Meet the People Who Curate Creativity

by | Dec 13, 2023 | People, Places

Paducah LIfe | Fox Briar | Matt Johnston | Nick Weeks

Matt Johnston, and his cocktail co-conspirator Nick Weeks, are the masterminds behind the unique drinks and spirit experiences at The FoxBriar in downtown Paducah. From themed drink menus to an intimate, artistic, and upscale environment at this creative culmination of talents, more than 40,000 cocktails are being crafted from behind The FoxBriar bar.

“We believe drinks are 10% of the equation of a good bar, and the rest is experience,” Matt Johnston explains. “From conversations to the environment itself, our core mission is to give the best possible experience to every guest that walks through our doors.”

Matt, who has been the driving force from the beginning of The FoxBriar, and his crew first started with the goal of making cocktails specific to each customer. Ordering involved a discussion about likes and dislikes, flavor preferences and flavor aversions, as well as one’s willingness to branch out. It was different; it was intimate; and Paducah was drinking it up.

“Honestly, I never thought it would be what it is today,” Matt admits. “I had zero bartending experience outside of doing our speakeasy events before we opened the bar. But I had been making drinks for a few years as a barista at Piper’s. And I still firmly believe that if you can make drinks, you can make drinks. The ingredients change, the techniques change, but the overall concept of creating flavor profiles doesn’t.”

Starting with a Winnie the Pooh-themed menu in the spring of 2022 (which was certified sommelier Nick Week’s idea for celebrating the book series’ move into the public domain) to seven other themed menus that have followed, their story keeps evolving, one sip at a time.

Other themes have included drinks inspired by the National Park Services (complete with trifold menus mimicking a trail guide) and a host of literary tributes including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Lord of the Rings. This past fall’s menu, however, might be the most personal one for Matt to date. In celebration of Paducah’s 10th anniversary as a UNESCO creative city, the menu explored the world of drinks through the lens of the artist, featuring eight unique drinks inspired by great works of art.

And if it’s not clear yet, when an art lover walks into this bar, art is exactly what they’ll get. But for Matt, it’s never just the drink that is the art. It’s the drink in context.

“We want to give our patrons a reason to come out and a reason to stay. That’s something I find really encouraging about being in this space. The interactions I’ve watched people have are really what keeps us going.”

Read MORE about the wonderful world of mixology at The FoxBriar in the current edition of Paducah Life Magazine on sale now!

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