At the Bar: Benton’s
I have to start by admitting I’ve never ordered a drink at Benton’s Prime Steakhouse, at the top of the Westin Crown Center. But Tony Beyer, the lounge’s regular (and usually only) bartender, is an enthusiastic and generous guy, though, so I stopped by recently for a chat.
Beyer’s no stranger to this business. To hear him tell it, he grew up behind the bar. His family had a hand in several KCK establishments such as the Piper Lake Club and Gino’s, and Beyer says there are photos of him as a toddler sitting on the bars. From that auspicious start, Beyer went on to study communications and Spanish; work for the United Way, as a high school teacher and as a corporate trainer; and tend bar at Pierpont’s and Bo Ling’s in the River Market before landing at Benton’s.
Along the way, friends challenged his thinking about drinking—especially those friends who didn’t drink. Beyer believes everyone deserves a good cocktail, whether there’s alcohol in it or not, and he began taking a culinary approach to zero-proof drinks. That approach soon spilled over into his regular drink-making, something that’s obvious from a cocktail list littered with fresh juices, herbs and ginger syrup. And it won fans—specifically a rowdy and loud cadre of friends and family that cheered him on at the Greater Kansas City Bartending Competition finals in 2009 and 2010 and voted him “Fan Favorite” both years.
Hopefully, some of those fans will follow him to The Art of the Cocktail, Turning Point’s 10th annual “An Evening Among Friends” Fundraiser on June 24. Beyer’s giving up a Friday night behind his own bar to serve as one of the event’s celebrity bartenders. What a guy.