Photos by Jonathan Johnson

Kris Torrance is the bar manager at Republic Texas Tavern owner’s newest concept Onēsan Dim Sum Sushi. Torrance has been a bartender for over a decade, learning the ins and outs of the industry before opening Onēsan and creating its cocktail menu. 

Torrance started working as a bartender 10 years ago in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, before moving to Nashville and then Scottsdale, Arizona. He arrived in Dallas to work at Whiskey Hatchet in Deep Ellum. Later, after settling into the cocktail and bourbon scene at Republic Texas Tavern, Torrance helped open its neighbor Onēsan.

Onēsan opened in July and serves dim sum, sushi rolls, nigiri and other Asian-inspired dishes. The drink menu boasts cocktails like the Death Over Dishonor, with Japanese whisky, Szechuan peppercorn ginger syrup and plum bitters. 

What was it like moving from dive bars to Republic to this new place?

I’ve never worked in the sushi or Asian concept. So it’s a lot of learning about sake and dim sum and sushi and things I never thought I would eat, which is cool. Republic is up my alley with bourbon and American gastropub steak and stuff, but it has been really cool learning about the Asian restaurant world and studying its processes. It’s fun, and it’s challenging. But it’s easy to go right back into everything that you already know and are comfortable with. 

What do you like about being a bartender?

John Kinsler, the owner of Republic, mentions all the time that we’re not in the food and beverage industry; we’re an entertainment business. Which is to say, we’re giving you an experience and that’s definitely true. Especially being a bartender behind the bar, you’re on stage all the time. You have to talk to everybody and get along with everybody. Make everybody laugh. You’re everybody’s friend. People come and tell you things they probably shouldn’t tell you. Those connections to people are definitely one of the best things about the job. 

You’re relatively new to the area. What about bartending in this area differs from other places you’ve been?

This area has more drinking veterans, I’d say. They’re not college kids trying to get hammered every night. They enjoy the quality of the wine or the cocktail; they want to see what you do and like you to take your time to appreciate the drink. It isn’t what I dealt with for most of my career, but it’s a nice change of pace and I appreciate that they never ask, “Why is it taking so long?”

What is your favorite cocktail to make?

This one is my favorite cocktail to make and my favorite cocktail to drink. It’s our best. I have a Japanese twist on an Old Fashioned made with ginger peppercorn syrup and Japanese whisky. We have craft cocktails and classic cocktails, which are of course crafted when made correctly. We don’t have a sour mix or anything like that. We fresh-squeeze limes and lemons every day; it’s done the right way.  

This was your first time building an entire cocktail menu yourself. What was that creative process like?

That’s always the most fun, right? Being creative. I like to play music and get creative at work. When someone walks up to the bar and they’re like “I like vodka” or “I like sweet drinks” that is always a lot of fun for me because now I know that I know how to do this since I can do that. You get to express yourself or use a little bit of creativity.

Onēsan, 2300 Inwood Road, Hours: 4-9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 4 -10 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.