Josh Widner is startlingly approachable, in the midst of the close-to-cocky air of confidence he exudes. I sat down to interview him for a magazine piece one chilly evening in his scotch and cocktail bar, Scotch & Soda, in the heart of the revitalizing Springfield, Missouri downtown. The air of substance and luxury surrounding me was unexpected in what I’ve always seen as a gritty town: floor-to-ceiling, deep-red tapestries, wall-to-wall wood that glows in the strategic light, and a beautiful library ladder at the back of the bar that Josh tells me was built by his grandfather to replicate the ladder from his family’s 60-foot catamaran.
“When my studio job in Iceland fell through, I started working as a barback with my brother here in Springfield,” said Josh, a Full Sail graduate whose emergence into the music industry coincided with the demise of the CD. It was a fortuitous dead end. Three years later, with funding and business plan in place, Josh and his business partner opened Scotch & Soda.
With over 130 single malts to offer and a growing fan base, Scotch & Soda is the 3rd largest scotch bar in the state. “From a business standpoint, we’re selling a lifestyle brand,” says Josh. From a customer service standpoint, he and his staff are simply presenting their passion for good drinks and offering education, humor, and a sense of belonging. “My regulars are some of the coolest people ever. We’ve created a small family here.”
Springfield, MO / evening / Scotch & Soda