When you ask any of us here at ULAH and LUNA, "Where's a cool spot to grab drinks in Kansas City?", Mean Mule Distilling Co. is our top recommendation to impress out-of-towners.  The vibes at Mean Mule are a perfect mix of hip and sexy, while also being warm and inviting. It's like your favorite neighborhood joint, but with this cool twist that makes you feel like you're not even in Kansas City - the same feeling we try to invoke in our store. 

So, when Jeff and Meg, co-owners of Mean Mule, starting shopping in our store, we quickly hit it off. You know, small business owners bonding over shared struggles and triumphs. They've been part of our journey, doing pop-ups at charity sip n' shop nights and our Anniversary Block Parties.

We're excited to have mean mule as our next Community Spotlight feature.  We asked co-founder Meg some questions to learn more about what they do, what they love about Kansas City, and why they named their distillery Mean Mule:

Tell us what inspired you to start Mean Mule Distilling Co?
We were inspired by Jeff's passion for the science behind distilling, my background in storytelling, and our desire to create a distinctive, high-quality American agave spirit. Our ambition was to unearth our family story and legacy of distilling but in a whole new way. 
What's the story behind the name Mean Mule?
"Mean Mule" reflects the spirit and tenacity we embody in our distillery operations. It symbolizes the strength, determination, and a touch of rebelliousness that are essential to our pioneering efforts in the American Agave spirits market. The mean mule is a real animal that became a legend in our family. My grandma told a story about how one of the mules they used for farming was used to guard their secret distilling operation during prohibition. When the government men came knocking to discover proof of their booze business, they were scared off by one really mean mule! 
What advice would you give your past self when you were first starting Mean Mule?
To embrace patience, persistence, and the value of learning from failure. Understanding the importance of the journey, focusing on quality, and building strong community connections are pivotal insights we've gained.
What sets Mean Mule's spirits apart from others in the market?
Our spirits stand first and foremost because we make them ourselves. Lots of other spirits claiming to be local are made by contract distilling and are simply re-branded. We are craftspeople through and through. We emphasize innovation and are working to be part of a new spirits movement in the United States. 
Could you highlight some of Mean Mule's signature products?
We offer signature spirits that represent our finest work, including specially crafted agave spirits. We're really proud that we have won some awards for many of our spirits including our Poblano Agave Spirit. 
How does Mean Mule contribute/engage with the local community?
We engage with our local community through events, collaborations with local businesses, branding and design through local artists, and support for local causes. We participate in and host events that offer tasting experiences and work to make a positive impact in our area. Honestly, the community we've built started from necessity, but it's been the greatest gift. 
What is one unexpected challenge you've overcome and on the other hand, one of your proudest moments in being a locally owned small business?
Navigating unexpected challenges, such as regulatory landscapes, the pandemic, and market changes, has been a part of our journey. Our proudest moments include receiving recognition for our quality, contributing to our community, and achieving milestones that reflect our growth and positive impact. And to be frank, surviving all this time as a small business with over a dozen staff, and a seriously large lease payment. 
How would you describe the Mean Mule customer experience?
We focus on providing an experience centered around education, engagement, and enjoyment. Our visitors can expect tastings, fresh ingredients, an elevated cocktail program, private tours revealing the distilling process, and a warm, welcoming atmosphere that encourages exploration and conversation. We promote intimate gatherings over partying and really enjoy taking things slow. 
What role does fashion play in your daily life?
While not directly related to distilling (because agave is a big mess), fashion plays a role in our branding and the overall aesthetic of Mean Mule.  We are makers, and part of being a "creative" type allows you some eccentricities in your wardrobe and personality. We love to lean into that and encourage our team to be their authentic selves inside and out. I would definitely say we steer toward a Western vibe, which can look like a literal cowboy hat and boots or jewelry that has a Western spin. It's fun to incorporate little bits of the Mean Mule aesthetic into our own personal looks.  
Any future plans (events, products, collabs, expansions) for Mean Mule you can talk about with us?
We have plans for new products, events, and collaborations; these include launching new spirit varieties, hosting special events, and expanding our distribution!  We are really excited to be partnering with people like Keeyoung from Chingu this year on a special spirit and releasing an agave spirit from a new variety of agave. 
Lastly, what do you love about Kansas City?
Our love for Kansas City stems from its supportive community and vibrant food and drink scene. We take pride in our city and are motivated by the desire to contribute to its growth and reputation as a destination for craft spirits, the arts, and award-winning food and beverage. We have a huge heart for the East Crossroads especially and have been part of building this neighborhood since 2017, so we will take time to ask anyone who supports Mean Mule and our neighbors to VOTE NO on April 2nd.  Our ask is that the city and our neighborhood get more time to work together on understanding the impact of the proposed stadium before moving forward. It's a really cool and wild time to be from KC, as we watch it become an international destination. 
Check out this recipe they shared with us.  You can make it at home, or ask for it at the bar the next time you visit them: 
1 1/2 oz Mean Mule Silver
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Ginger Syrup
1/4 oz Aperol
Build ingredients in a shaker tin. Shake until chilled. Strain into a coupe glass.  No garnish is needed.
To make ginger syrup, simmer 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar, 3-4 slices of ginger until dissolved. Strain and cool.
Mean Mule Distilling Co. stands as more than just a top recommendation for a cool spot to grab drinks in Kansas City; it's a testament to the city's vibrant community spirit and entrepreneurial creativity. Co-founders Jeff and Meg have not only crafted exceptional agave spirits but have also woven their family legacy and rebellious tenacity into the fabric of Mean Mule.