Mad Men has been off the air for two years now — it’s high time we millennials admit that Don Draper taught us how to drink whiskey. The education shouldn’t stop there, and fortunately for our tastes, Bridge Street is at it again with another establishment dedicated to upping our collective spirits knowledge. This month, Revue sat down with Meagan Freriks of One Bourbon to talk whiskey, fried chicken and daily homemade pie that would make Dale Cooper blush.
How did you end up on Bridge Street?
We loved the sense of community here. We want it to be a friendly restaurant. I’m out on the floor here every night talking to customers. George is the one in the back of house running the kitchen. We want to be the neighborhood pub where you sit down and we’ll know your name. I mean, as corny as it sounds, we want the Cheers feel.
And you get that feeling on the West Side. We’re not going for the 2 a.m. bar crowd — we’re too old for that — so we wanted One Bourbon to be a place where you can sit down with a nice cocktail and be able to have good conversation with your friends, along with some great American comfort food.
Yeah, the menu has that middle-South kind of comfort vibe to it.
My husband and I love to go out and try new restaurants — there’s one opening all the time now. But what I grew tired of was having a great dinner at these places, but getting a little, teeny, tiny portion of this and that and leaving the restaurant hungry and stopping at McDonald’s on the way home. See, you’re laughing because it’s a thing!
It is. Some restaurateurs forget there are 14 of those tiny plates at most upscale restaurants — nobody’s leaving on an empty stomach.
Yeah, sometimes you just try a little too hard, right? Like, there’s nothing wrong with a burger. It’s good! And there’s no reason to put kale on every blessed thing. So here, we want to move back to classic dishes, good sizes, reasonable prices.
It may not be super creative, but it’s gonna taste really good. We’ve got a great burger, mac and cheese. Even the fries are excellent — and poutine! I mean, smothered fries. It just doesn’t get any better than that sometimes. But our big seller so far is our fried chicken — we’ve gotten a lot of compliments on that. Super crunchy coating, and the chicken stays nice and juicy on the inside.
You’ve got an impressive amount of spirits here, too.
Yes, everybody’s always asking about the name One Bourbon. Why the bourbon? And... it’s because I hate beer. All right? I’ll say it. I wish I liked it! And my partners love beer, but I was always the sober one eating soggy tacos at the end of the night — that’s no fun! So I wanted a spirit-forward bar, where you can have a great cocktail or try a glass of a really nice whiskey before you drop a bunch of money on a bottle at the store.
Anything you’ve got that’s a little different here?
Well, the state of Michigan controls what alcohol comes in and stays out, so you’ve got to figure out what’s available to you, first of all. And when you’re talking specialty bottles, it’s mostly a matter of what’s allocated to your different liquor reps, so on that end, it’s all about making connections. Week to week, we have no idea what might surprise us.
With time, the area has developed a pretty sound beer palate, but maybe not with spirits. Do you offer flights or classes?
Yes, we’ll be starting them (June 12). And what we’re planning on doing is from start to finish, so to speak. It’ll start with a shine, like that Buffalo Trace White Dog Rye Mash on the shelf, there.
Then, it’ll go to a bourbon like Michter’s American, which is a four-year age. Then, we might move to an Eagle Rare 10-year. So all in all, it’s a brief introduction to the stages of a whiskey: Here’s what it starts out as, here’s a taste of a standard four-year, and see what happens to the flavors when you age a bottle beyond that, 10 years, 12 years.
And again, we love that people are asking about tasting notes, flights and classes, but if you want a Jack and Coke, enjoy your Jack and Coke, or your gin, rum, tequila, whatever. Or your beer! Do you.
Well, I think we’re one of the only places around town that offers homemade pie for dessert every day. That’s all of our desserts: just two or three different kinds of pie. So save room.
One Bourbon is located at 608 Bridge St. NW, Grand Rapids. Menu and more info: onebourbongr.com