Ford County alcohol law prevents distillery from having bar

Published: Jun. 23, 2016 at 6:08 PM CDT
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What was once a run-down building is now the home of western Kansas' only distillery.

Mark Vierthaler, distiller and marketing director for Boot Hill Distillery, says they selected the building they're in because of its rich western history.

"Where we are now was the original Boot Hill graveyard here in Dodge City," said Veirthaler.

Boot Hill Distillery will begin offering samples and selling bottles of their drinks next month, but Vierthaler says the distillery's plans to open a bar is at a standstill.

"Unfortunately, now we are unable to do that because of some local regulations. But we have been speaking with county commissioners and local commissioners in the hopes that we can start bringing people in both for samples, bottles as well as cocktails," he continued.

Like many Kansas counties, Ford allows individual alcohol drinks to be sold only if more than 30-percent of that business' profit comes from food sales.

"We are just a distillery we don't have a commercial kitchen and we aren't really situated for that right now," said Vierthaler.

Ford County Administrator JD Gilbert says only a change to the county law would allow locations like Boot Hill Distillery to sell individual drinks at their bar.

"We have to move from a dry county to a wet county. In order to do that, you would have to go to the general election, which would be this November. They have to get on the ballot, and it will be up to the community after that," said Gilbert.

Vierthaler says although the bar may not be possible yet, they will continue to pursue the idea.

"What we want people to know is that we're not just opening a bar, we're not going to be selling beer, all of the cocktails that would be sold in the tasting room would feature our own products," said Vierthaler.

Currently, 31 Kansas counties do not have a food sales requirement for public places selling alcohol.