Whiskey For My Friends
Updated: Oct 4, 2022
Opening in October, Gunpowder is the City's Newest Bar
This fall will see the launch of a new whiskey bar in Fergus Falls. Dubbed Gunpowder Whiskey, Wine & Beer, the business will be located in the former The Spot location, on West Lincoln Avenue, and will feature a well-tested menu of sandwiches and meals, daily specials, regular events, and a wide and ever-changing selection of drinks – from simple favorites to elusive exotics. Gunpowder has big plans for the future and a history in fine drinks spanning many years and several states.
West to Midwest
Blue Kunz, owner of the Gunpowder bar, was brought up amidst the hustle and bustle of kitchen and clientele.
"I was that kid that stole alcohol at 14 and made a mess in the kitchen when the chefs weren't watching," she recalls. "I swore up and down I would never open a bar."
And for many years, she didn't. She worked a job with Boeing out of high school and met and married the love of her life while there. She worked a few jobs, picked up a degree, and spent more than a decade serving in a career she ultimately chose to leave behind. Kunz and her husband moved to his family's hometown, in Illinois, and she found herself searching for a direction in life.
"I don't have anything else I could do," she confided to her husband.
"Yes, you do," he replied.
What followed was a realization. Kunz told her husband she wanted to take her savings and open a bar. In nearby Dubuque, Iowa, she opened what would become Third Corner Food & Spirits, at the intersection of First and Main streets. The location was historically significant, sitting opposite the very first lot in Dubuque – which is said to have been surveyed in 1835, 13 years prior to Iowa becoming a state. Kunz chose the name "Third Corner," as the four corners of that intersection were comprised of three bars (of which hers was the third) and a church. Something she says is very characteristic of Dubuque.
Over several years, Kunz built a reputation for great food—the recipes for which she jokes she stole from her father—and an incredible variety of fine drinks.
"Unique stuff is what I specialize in, and I've done well at it," she says.
Finding Fergus Falls
Kunz says eventually it came time to settle down long term. She had always expected to move back to Seattle, but it no longer seemed right. She jokes that finding Fergus Falls was a bit like throwing a dart at a map.
The couple spent time in Wisconsin, near Chetek Lake, but the state never felt quite perfect. Instead, for the last three years, they've traveled to west-central Minnesota, including Fergus Falls. She saw room in the market and made her move to settle a new bar in Alexandria, but the conditions weren't right there, either. Thinking that maybe the state itself was a poor fit, Kunz made one last attempt, reaching out to Greater Fergus Falls.
"They are amazing," she says, "I can't say anything better."
Through Greater Fergus Falls, Kunz found the support she needed. The organization connected her with a prominent downtown property, and in a few months the matter was settled. She says she's found city staff ready and able to help navigate liquor licensing and ensure her new business meets local ordinance and code requirements. She's working to renovate the space, with a striking coat of stiletto red and flat black paints mixed with signs and decorations that match her personality and the business's ambiance.
Although she's still adapting to that signature "Minnesota Nice."
"I'm not used to people waving at me," she jokes.
More importantly, drinks for every budget have been arriving in steady supply in preparation for the weeks ahead. As in Dubuque, Kunz means to have a locally incomparable supply of beer, wine, and whiskey ranging from everyday drinks to multi-hundred-dollar exotics and imports. The bar itself is named after Kunz's favorite drink, Gunpowder Irish Gin, and she's a capable connoisseur that can recommend a drink to anyone.
With a handful of days remaining, Gunpowder Whiskey, Wine & Beer is scheduled for a soft launch on the week of Oct. 10. From Monday through Thursday, the bar will be open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. A big "try everything" night will be held on Friday, Oct. 14. Kunz has pulled-pork sliders, drink specials, and more planned for the initial soft launch, and feedback from the first few weeks will help shape the final menu when the bar opens formally on Nov. 23.
In addition to its regular menu, Gunpowder will feature daily specials and events – like game nights, line dancing, movie nights, and live music. Kunz hopes to work with the local Chamber of Commerce to conceive an annual weekend-long bourbon, beer, and barbecue event downtown – something to create a draw and benefit all of the city's businesses.
Kunz says she is encouraged by the community's response so far, fielding phone calls for reservations, bands scheduling performances, community events, and the like with more than a month to go until the bar's grand opening. She hopes her business will serve as a local staple in time.
"I want it to be a place where people can come in and have that Bud or a glass of wine after work and sit and talk and have fun," she says.
R.C. Drews for Greater Fergus Falls
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