Today we’d like to introduce you to Jay Sanders.
Hi Jay, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
I started as a server at Rm39 when I was 19.
The head bartender was (and is) named Jared Murray.
He made cocktails so well I wanted to be just like him.
He let me behind the bar to learn how to do it and eventually, he let me take Monday and Tuesday nights.
I used those shifts to learn everything I could about craft cocktail bartending.
A few years later, Jared moved on and I took over the bar program. I started putting out full menus of my creations… I bought my own glassware, tools and printed my own menus on special paper. I paid for all my special ingredients out of pocket. I just wanted to learn.
When I was 28, I got a job offer to move to Florida to run a bar program- building it from the ground up. I took it and moved across the country.
When I was 30 and living in Florida- learning all the how to (and how not to) open a restaurant a hurricane struck the area and I was displaced. I decided to return home to KC…
A local cocktail bar called SoT offered me the general manager position. I packed up whatever wasn’t taken in the hurricane with my mom on a Saturday and drove it all to KC. I started work that Tuesday.
After six months, I was starting to make things happen at SoT and I was offered my dream job, running Manifesto.
I happily accepted.
I worked perhaps the most stressful and most rewarding 14 months of my life there until I was again offered another job- this time as the director of bar development for a new restaurant group. I was offered a very generous salary and creative control over all the bars and concepts we planned on opening.
I kept switching jobs and moving up the ladder because I wanted to own my own bar. I was tired of working for someone else’s dream and I wanted to realize my own. This was the final opportunity to achieve that.
My friend Jill Cockson (owner of Swordfish Tom’s in KC) and I were contacted to meet the owners of a small building in downtown Shawnee.
I was commuting back and forth from
Iowa City at the time but we scheduled our meeting and all of us clicked. We were going to open a bar.
In January of 2020, I quit my job to focus on Drastic Measures (a name I had kept in my notes for many years)
We opened in June 2020, in the height of the pandemic.
And we just celebrated our first-year open last week.
That’s my story so far.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It’s never been easy but I am also privileged with an easier path than most.
I survived a hurricane and a pandemic and was still able to realize my dream.
And I could not have done that without support from everyone I encountered on my path.
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I am a craft cocktail bar owner and bartender.
I am known for doing interesting but approachable cocktails with dramatic presentation but in low stakes environments.
I am most proud of being able to learn from and educate other bartenders in the city.
What sets me apart from others is that I bring a tenacity and work ethic not only for my craft but for hospitality. And I pay attention and obsess over details in drinks and service that wouldn’t bother others.
Do you have any advice for those looking to network or find a mentor?
Surround yourself with people smarter, nicer and more qualified than you. Stay hungry. Don’t stop learning. When you stop growing, you will be outshined by the next thing.
- Email: Jay@drasticbar.com
- Website: www.drasticbar.com
- Instagram: jay.drinker