Molly Wellmann’s eyes light up when she talks about history. Especially when that history connects her two passions: Cincinnati and cocktail culture.
Myrtle's Punch House
From notorious local Prohibition-era bootlegger George Remus, to the stories behind vintage libations, to the region’s long tradition of bourbon- and beer-making, Wellmann is a walking Wikipedia of Cincinnati’s boozy past as a hub for distilling and brewing.
Wellmann has harnessed her enthusiasm for cocktails and history in a group of neighborhood watering holes and craft cocktail bars stamped with her own personal touch. “All of my bars are like you’re walking into a party in my house,” Wellmann says. “You come in, you sit down, you’re greeted, you’re taken care of, you enjoy a great cocktail and great conversation.”
Myrtle's Punch House
Myrtle’s Punch House
in up-and-coming East Walnut Hills typifies Wellmann’s aesthetic. Historically, she says, Cincinnati neighborhoods were anchored by two institutions: the church and the tavern. Just a block north of Myrtle’s, the steeple of St. Francis de Sales soars above Madison Road. “The whole point of opening Myrtle’s was the community,” she says. “The church was there. We brought the tavern.”
Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar
Other Wellmann Brands spots are just as neighborhood-centric. She calls Neon’s, with its dog-friendly beer garden (and the only Wellmann bar with a TV), “Over-the-Rhine’s patio.” Japp’s–Since 1879, housed in an old wig shop on resurgent Main Street, is a step back in time, with classic drinks and vintage beauty ephemera bedecking the space. At the Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar in Covington, bartenders get six months of training in everything whiskey. Wellmann’s bartenders create inspired cocktails using juices, syrups and mixers made in house with local ingredients where possible.
This seventh-generation Cincinnatian says the local hospitality scene is unlike any other city’s. “There’s a magic in Cincinnati that you can’t find anywhere else,” she says. “I’ve lived in San Francisco and traveled extensively, and I’ve always found Cincinnati to be so comfortable, so approachable.”