Cocktails and vibes at the Plaza District’s RadBar.
RadBar opened at 1715 NW 16th St. in the Plaza District last year, occupying the space that formerly housed Saints. The most surprising thing about the move is how long it took for the Plaza to get a bar that is cocktail-forward; The Pritchard and Lua had tried a wine bar approach, and several of the other concepts in the district have bars, but none really leaned hard into the cocktail bar vibe. Enter Melissa Yohn, industry veteran with years of experience with the Holloway Group, A Good Egg and consulting.
Yohn and her business partner, local artist Kristopher Kanaly, decided to combine cocktails, music, art and food to create a community space that celebrates creativity in the arts and hospitality.
“At the core of everything we do is creativity,” Yohn said. “We strive to provide well-orchestrated and original cocktails and a traditional bar food menu with our own spin, using local producers, purveyors and brands that support what we are: creative.”
Heading up the creativity behind the bar is Brandon Malone, who in his capacity as bar manager works with Yohn to craft smart, delicious cocktails that utilize some of the best ingredients available in Oklahoma, from Maggie’s Farm Rum to locally produced WanderFolk Spirits, including its Garden Club and Prairie Wolf lines.
The Toasted Wizard is an excellent example of what Malone does in that it’s simple, smart and delicious, but the build isn’t necessarily something everyone else is doing. He takes Old Overholt rye whiskey, Prairie Wolf dark coffee liqueur, oat milk and honey syrup to create a riff on a revolver that drinks like a creamy espresso martini.
Anotha Shrubbery features Garden Club gin, Luxardo liqueur, lemon juice and a house-made blackberry shrub. Again, a simple, four-ingredient cocktail that succeeds because of excellent gin and the shrub: a syrup made with concentrated fruit flavors, aromatics and/or botanicals and vinegar. The balance Malone achieves is impressive in that the interesting blend of ingredients doesn’t lead to flavor contests where one overwhelms the others — an easy thing to do when shrubs are involved.
RadBar is also following the trend toward more frozen drinks, even in winter, with a frozen spiked horchata. There are a few bars serving this delicious concoction now, and that’s another trend we’re very happy to support.
For Yohn and Kanaly, the goal at RadBar is to create a space where all the senses are engaged, as well as the intellect. Yohn said, “RadBar provides an immersive art experience with larger-than-life murals, eclectic wall decor and the lost toys of the ’80s and ’90s generation. We aim to provide our patrons with a memorable experience, whether just dining and drinking with us or occasionally enjoying live entertainment.”
The best way to dive into RadBar? Grab a cocktail and a house-made Hawt Pocket — Yohn’s cheeky name for the hand pies — at the bar (the Triple O.G. is a must). After you eat, head to the pinball room and just enjoy the vibe.