Visit Stave Cocktail Lounge Inside of West Fork Whiskey Co.
Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing
Photographer / Brian Brosmer
What can whiskey do? Find out by visiting Stave, a speakeasy-inspired lounge located inside of West Fork Whiskey Co. that offers an intimate atmosphere, perfect for relaxing with friends while sipping top-tier cocktails.
In case you didn’t know, a stave is a narrow length of wood with a slightly bevelled edge to form the sides of barrels.
“We want to show the quality of whiskey that West Fork is making, but we also want to push the boundaries of what people believe whiskey can do,” says Todd Tapp, lead bartender and beverage director at Stave.
For instance, they have a tasty concoction called Creek Water, for which they infuse their whiskey with brown sugar and molasses to create a beautiful rich flavor. They pair that with a fresh ginger-root syrup.
“You get a molasses cookie paired with this soft, spicy ginger,” says Tapp, who crafted and created the initial menu. Going forward, all Stave bartenders will be granted creative freedom when it comes to flavors and cocktail names for other menu items.
Another favorite beverage is the Cactus Sour, which takes an egg-white whiskey sour and amps it up a little by using a prickly-pear syrup.
“The bourbon is already great, we’re just accenting it with these other flavors and pairings,” Tapp says. “We are reintroducing people to what is becoming popular and trendy [in whiskey]. “We’re taking flavors that you may have never experienced and throwing them into cocktails. We love that shock factor when people try it.”
The menu is separated into different cocktail categories including Summer, Sippin’, Rugged, Cheerful, Flights, and Timeless.
“We want people to take their time reading the menu and get into that lounge experience,” Tapp says. “We try to use words that won’t scare people away, because we want them to ask us questions so we can teach them and get them to explore.”
He notes that it’s easy in a bar setting for patrons to default to ordering classics such as an old fashioned or whiskey mule. At Stave, they have fun with the menu by pairing other ingredients with what you would find in a classic beverage.
“If you’re more into those bright, refreshing summer drinks, we’ve got you covered,” Tapp says. “The same is true if you like rugged drinks such as an old fashioned or a Manhattan. We have something for everybody.”
Stave also offers vodka and gin cocktails. One of Tapp’s favorites is called the Femme Antique, which he describes as a vodka old fashioned. It’s paired with a couple of different wine vermouths (a rosé and a white wine) along with a soft, oak-smoked syrup.
Their number-one priority is ensuring that everyone who comes in feels comfortable. If you try something and it doesn’t fit your palate, send it back and they’ll get you something that does.
“We want to make sure you’re having a great time at Stave,” Tapp says.
Their other goal is to be the leader in the cocktail industry – especially the leader in distilling. They do this by teaching their clients and the community about quality craft cocktails.
“The only way we can become a great leader, or inspire other bars and restaurants, is to educate our community and our customers,” says Tapp, who has been in the industry for eight years and has learned quite a bit about mixology in that time. “That’s the only thing that will help drive us forward and push ourselves to be better in the service industry. If we can grow the community around us on well-crafted, bespoke cocktails, I think it would push the rest of the industry to do the same.”
Stave’s beautiful leather lounge resembles a cozy at-home whiskey den.
“That’s what we want, to bring that comfortable at-home feel as if you just stepped into our living room,” Tapp says. “We are excited to give you an experience that you wouldn’t find anywhere else.”
Stave is located inside of West Fork Whiskey Co., at 10 East 191st Street in Westfield.
For more information, or if you are interested in working at Stave, call 317-763-5400 or visit westforkwhiskey.com/location/stave-cocktail-lounge.