Two local business partners are combining their love for literature and liquor to open a specialty cocktail bar on Mandan’s Main Street.
Thomas and Moriarty’s, to be located at 200 W. Main St., is named for Jerry Thomas, author of “The Bar-Tender’s Guide,” the first cocktail book published in the United States, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Professor James Moriarty from the Sherlock Holmes stories.
Michael Kashey and Stacy Sturm are partnering to open the late 1800s, early 1900s literature-themed bar this month.
Sturm was an English major in college and has worked in various forms of media.
“I love the classics,” Sturm said. “Classic cocktails, classic stories — I guess it all kind of goes together.”
The Devil in the White City will be one of their first drinks. The cocktail is named for H.H. Holmes, the infamous serial killer in 1893 Chicago. The drink starts white, with gin. Kashey will add sweet vermouth and squid ink to turn it black.
Kashey has worked at a craft cocktail bar for the past couple years. When the opportunity to implement his own vision for a bar came along, he went for it.
“I have an appreciation for not just drinks but alcohol as well,” Kashey’s partner, Sturm, said.
It was their shared focus on chemistry and combinations and what makes a good balanced cocktail that brought the pair together.
“There’s an appreciation you get when you really kind of study alcohol,” Sturm said. “We need more bars around here that really want to teach people about cocktails and spirits … That’s kind of the goal of our bar.”
Thomas and Moriarty’s will host alcohol education and tasting seminars, including a history of absinthe event in February.
Kashey said the events will often feature three drinks. As host, he’ll talk a bit about the history of the liquors involved, the distilling process and how they got their start.
“I think there’s a lot of misinformation about alcohol and not understanding the culture behind it,” he said.
In addition, they plan to have a daily “absinthe hour” with a discounted price on absinthe, which Kashey calls the “most misunderstood spirit,” with a murky history.
Sturm and Kashey also want to keep Thomas and Moriarty’s small, quiet and intimate, for the “social anti-social drinker who wants to go out to have a drink but not deal with a lot of people.” The capacity will be 30 people.
For those wanting an even more exclusive experience, there will be a VIP program, “The Main Street Irregulars,” with discounts on classes, tastings and events and access to a secret menu featuring time-intensive drinks.
“These will be really cool, edgy drinks you normally only see in bigger cities,” said Sturm, adding that membership to the program will be limited to 50 people.
There will be some beers on tap in the bar. For nondrinkers, there will be a craft “mocktail” menu, Sturm said. A charcuterie menu of preserved meats and cheeses will offer light eats.
Walking in will feel like walking into the 1800s, with woodwork, wainscoting, antique-style ceiling tiles and a vintage-style bar. Hours will be 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
Kashey said the feedback has been positive and they hope the bar will help diversify Mandan’s drinking scene.
“There’s a lot of people who work in Bismarck but live in Mandan so this gives them somewhere a little closer to home to come for a drink after work,” he said.
Mandan is somewhat untapped territory for high-end cocktail bars, according to Sturm, who said Mandan’s downtown is growing and a number of new drinking establishments will be getting a start there.
“It just gives options,” Sturm said. “People can spend a night in either (Bismarck or Mandan’s) downtown rather than just doing the same thing all the time.”