CINCINNATI — Kathy O'Connell had no plans to open her own self-pour beer and cocktail bar in Cincinnati before taking a trip to visit a cousin in Chicago a few years ago.
"I went two and a half, almost three years ago now and visited him in Chicago and he said, 'Hey, I have this bar I want to take you to,'" O'Connell said.
That bar was Tapster, an early adopter of new technology that allowed customers to pour their own beer and pay by the ounce using a radio frequency technology card. Tapster opened its first location in 2017.
O'Connell said her first reaction to seeing Tapster's wall of more than 150 self-pouring taps was "like this is really, really cool."
"I've been in the (bar) industry forever and had never seen anything like it," she said. "I was like, 'this is really interesting. I want to bring this to Cincinnati.'"
Upon returning to the Queen City, O'Connell told her partner, Brandon Hughes about the concept and what she wanted to do. Hughes also is the co-owner of Nine Giant Brewery and Gastropub in Pleasant Ridge.
When Copper & Flame opens on June 3 in the former The Rook board game bar space at 1115 Vine St., it will be the first spot in Over-the-Rhine to offer a similar self-pour tap system as Tapster. That system is called PourMyBeer.
"We have fifty two beers on the bottom floor here," O'Connell said of Copper & Flame's two-story space. "And we have eight draft wines that are all self-pour and eight draft cocktails that are all self-pour upstairs."
The beer taps are organized by styles such as IPA varieties, sours, ales and barrel-aged brews. O'Connell said people won't find flagship beers such as Rhinegeist's Truth IPA on tap.
"In terms of the actual concept of kind of what we're going for beer-wise, we're aiming to not really do any flagships or have many flagships at all," O'Connell said. "We're trying to get the one-off barrels."
She said that might mean Copper & Flame orders half or quarter-kegs of novelty beers from local brewers that sell quickly. Those quick sales will make visits to the bar a true adventure of discovery, which is how she hopes guests approach Copper & Flame's drink program.
To that end, she added, "We will have a full staff here. It's not meant to feel cold and inhospitable."
O'Connell said Copper & Flame will employ "walltenders" to assist customers in their beer, cocktail or wine self-pour journey.
"There job is to essentially help lead you through the experience, educate you on styles," she said.
About a month after opening, Copper & Flame will start offering food as well. O'Connell said the menu will feature South Asian and South American street-style food with the occasional burger.
She also hopes Copper & Flame becomes a place for people to gather before FC Cincinnati home games or to watch other sporting events on one of the bar's 11 televisions.
"This is really dope," O'Connell said of the concept. "I want to do this and so, yeah, we did it."
You can learn more about Copper & Flame by visiting www.copperandflame.com.