May 24, 2023

Where The Wild Things Are: Wild Child brings low

Photo by Jay Sanders

Staying at the forefront of cocktail creativity can be tough. If anyone in Kansas City can do it, it’s Jay Sanders. Not only was Drastic Measures a recent finalist for the “Outstanding Bar” James Beard Award (an honor only five bars in the country receive each year), but his latest concept, Wild Child, is aiming for a completely different approach to the beverage game.

Luckily, the two will be easy to compare—Wild Child (11022 Johnson Dr., Shawnee, KS 66203) is literally next door to its older sister.

If you’ve visited Drastic Measures, you’ve probably seen a line of people waiting outside on a few different occasions. Sanders saw an opportunity when the space next door went up for sale, and he knew it was the perfect spot for the next concept he’d been shaking up.

Photo by Jay Sanders

Whereas DM is known for its moody vibe and a rotating list of big, boozy drinks, Wild Child’s central focuses are on a curated wine list and a series of non-alcoholic and low-ABV cocktails.

“Wild Child will still have high-quality drinks at the center of things, but it will have a totally different vibe and style than Drastic Measures,” Sanders says.

For one, the green-light, red-light system of DM is not a part of things at Wild Child. They’ll have a more traditional host and even take reservations over the phone or online—table reservations are in 90-minute increments. The decoration and feel of the space are much bigger and brighter than the darker sister bar. Big windows for natural lighting, colorful wallpaper, rich wood, and a whole lot of plants make the space feel very open and inviting. Also setting it apart from Drastic Measures is the drink menu, which will consist of three different sections of cocktails along with an impressive wine selection.

The first grouping of cocktails is the “full-ABV” section. These cocktails are variations on classics, like an Old Fashioned featuring some bold chili flavors and a smoke infusion, or a Gimlet riff made with a lime distillate and tincture.

Photo by Jay Sanders

“We know not everyone is going to be all about the low/no options,” Sanders says. “That crowd can still grab some drinks they know and love at Wild Child.”

The second section of cocktails is the “no-ABV” drinks. After getting into some number-crunching, Sanders discovered it was much more cost-effective for Wild Child to make its own non-alcoholic spirits. They picked up a distiller and evaporator, and all the NA spirits for these cocktails are made in-house. Wild Child’s catchphrase seems to be: “Non-alcoholic doesn’t mean it has to suck.” Judging from their NA takes on everything from a Negroni to a Paloma, we’re inclined to agree with them.

The third cocktail section at Wild Child is the most esoteric but also stands to be their signature line: “low-ABV” drinks. Sanders approached local artists with words that elicit a strong reaction—words like “Vibrant,” “Nostalgic,” and “Exotic.” Those artists designed labels based on the word, and then the Wild Child team based the drink on the prompt and artistic direction of those labels. Exotic uses Haitian rum as a base spirit and also boasts a flavor profile that includes clarified carrot, picked apple, mango, Szechuan peppercorn, and lime acid.

These drinks are around the alcoholic strength of a glass of wine, and you’ll be able to order a bottle to enjoy on location or to take home with you. They’ll also rotate a few times each year, giving you even more incentive to come back and see what’s new.

Speaking of wine, Wild Child has even more fun stuff up its sleeve. Sanders promises a unique, ever-evolving wine list that will showcase a collection of up-and-coming wineries and makers as well as highlight some more outside-the-box varietals and ideas. In addition to the equipment used to make the bar’s NA cocktails, Wild Child is home to a shaved ice machine. We can expect some seriously fun cocktails to come from that. There is also a small plates menu created by Jeff Workman of The Campground. There are no hot food items on the menu at this point in time, but shareable snacks like savory popcorn, salads, and charcuterie are all up for grabs and a perfect way to keep you at the bar for just one more drink.

During its first few months of operation, Wild Child will be open Wed. through Fri. from 5-11 p.m. and Saturday 1-11 p.m. Sanders hopes to eventually extend those hours as word starts to get out and possibly even open another day of the week.

Raise your glass and let your inner Wild Child out.

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