Since he moved back to Kansas City from Boston, Andrew Olsen has cut a swath behind the bar of some of Kansas City’s most popular restaurants, creating clever (and delicious) craft cocktails. Late of Cleaver & Cork and The Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange, Olsen recently landed at Bluestem as the new bar manager.
Andrew Olsen’s List
1. RVCA (pronounced rue-cah) Weekender Chinos. I typically don’t wear denim. I prefer something similar to chinos. The Bunker carries these in a variety of different colors and styles. Being 6’5” makes it a bit difficult to find the right fit, but this specific brand fits perfectly. You’d be hard pressed to find me shopping anywhere else.
2. Little Freshie on the Westside. Lindsay does incredible work and is just about the sweetest person I’ve ever met (no pun intended). I had the opportunity to have some of her pistachio brittle with a Boulevard beer and it was exquisite.
3. J. Rieger Co. If anyone knows anything about me, it’s that I have an incredible appreciation for anything of quality and a great story. J. Rieger Co. and its whiskey has rapidly become a staple in the Kansas City community and brings us back to an extraordinary part of our city’s past.
4. Nixon watches. They’re incredible timepieces. They stand up to harsh conditions and hazardous environments. These watches are simple and practical. They don’t only make watches, but as a whole, Nixon has a great appreciation for “making the little stuff better.”
5. Rajasthani Royale. Recently, I’ve been working on this fun little drink. Turmeric-infused gin, fresh lemon juice and sparkling wine, garnished with lavender. Unbelievable color and altogether refreshing. I believe that if a cocktail is going to be sitting on a table in the dining room at Bluestem, it needs to be as beautiful as the food beside it. With this I looked for something with resounding color. Turmeric makes a cut above anything our guests have seen. The drink tastes great. It’s well rounded, approachable and also a bit ambitious. Before I named it, a few guests were able to try it. One guest told me it reminded her of Rajasthan, India. She explained it as the “wild west” of India. Reactions like this are exactly what I’m looking for when creating drinks. I just want people to leave happy.
6. The Downtown Streetcar. I enjoyed using “The T” while living in Boston. Unfortunately, we don’t have that in Kansas City but I am very much looking forward to catching a ride on the streetcar once the construction has been completed.
7. Mexican beer or a sparkling rosé. This may not be wildly popular with my Busch Light drinking bros, but I love one of these on a hot Sunday afternoon. Find me at a tailgate at Sporting Park or at Kauffman Stadium, there is a chance my red Solo Cup is full of one or the other.
8. The Joinery: Heirloom Works by Dylan Sly. I’ll be honest, I don’t know much about classic furniture, but I do know some people who make very impressive furniture here in Kansas City. A fella I had the pleasure of working with at The Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange and who is one of the reasons I got into this profession works out of his own shop. Not only is Dylan one of the most efficient bartenders I know, he is incredibly hospitable and ridiculously knowledgeable. He treats his woodworking the same. I’ve known him to stay up until the wee hours of the morning working diligently on some spectacular pieces of art.
9. Waylon Jennings. His music reminds me of where I grew up and some of my most memorable moments visiting family in Nebraska or my grandpa’s ranch in eastern Colorado. “Mammas, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys.”