Ghosts aren’t the only spirits in Guthrie these days. The suburban town, Oklahoma’s former capital now known mostly for its antique shops and haunted lore, has a drinking history, too, and one that lives on at The Wander Inn — a new type of bar for the oldest distillery in the state.
WanderFolk Spirits is an evolution of Prairie Wolf Distillery, the first distillery still in Oklahoma after it became legal to make alcohol in 2012. General manager Derek Duty and lead distiller Jeffrey Alan Cole initially showed off their wares at Mack & Ike’s, the first modern-day cocktail bar in Guthrie, where they partnered with the owners to showcase the products they were distilling right in town. Once state law changed to allow distilleries to have tasting rooms, Mack & Ike’s underwent its own evolution into The Wander Inn. It might be technically new, but history is at its heart. It’s housed in an 1890s building outfitted with enough memorabilia and news clippings to look like a boozy Guthrie museum.
Nestled in the heart of downtown, surrounded by fiddle shops and vintage candy stores, and located right next door to the WanderFolk distillery, the cozy, saloonlike lounge harkens to the past with Prohibition-era callbacks. Its Garden Society gin and vodkas are clad in images of rowdy Prohibitionists from the Guthrie Daily Leader, while Same Old Moses bourbon is named after the first legal bar in the pre-statehood territory, which was located a mere 100 yards away.
Vintage ephemera aside, the spotlight is squarely on the spirits. “We want to honor the story and history of Guthrie,” Duty said. “We’re proud of being the first, of putting Oklahoma on the map for making spirits.”
Calling it a “spirits lounge,” as a place to experience Oklahoma-made spirits, he said they wanted the vibe to feel traditional Victorian Guthrie, but modern. “A place to be able to control the narrative behind our spirits, but also show the cool woven history of the state’s disdain for sin.”
Guests can sip for themselves via single pours or flights of any of WanderFolk’s spirits, anchored by bourbons, gins and vodkas, or cocktails such as the Gold Rush — a bourbon drink with honey and lemon — or a brisk Tom Collins, made with gin, lemon, simple syrup and soda. Tours and tastings can be booked directly through the WanderFolk website at wanderfolkspirits.com, and new spirit releases are announced on social media. Snacks and charcuterie boards are also a post-Mack & Ike’s addition that feature tinned vittles from sustainability-minded Patagonia Provisions, like smoked mussels and paprika-spiced mackerel.
While some state laws have lapsed, others remain. “That’s why even now, there’s still the unique way we traditionally serve cocktails,” Duty said, noting that they serve their spirits in separate glassware from the rest of the cocktail mixers. “Our license allows us to produce alcohol, not make cocktails. So we serve the alcohol we make, and you make your own cocktail, basically.”
As dusty laws linger and evolve, it’s all part of a greater mission to establish Guthrie — and Oklahoma at large — as a spirit epicenter. “As the first legal distillery in Okla- homa, our mantra is we’re trying to help people understand that world-class spirits are happening up the street, locally,” Duty said. “Sometimes the best stuff you can find is in your own backyard.”