A Guide to Kansas City's Cultured Cocktail Scene


An influx of cocktail lounges and mixologists has Kansas City buzzing. Less a service and more an artform, watching the people behind the bar is like witnessing Picasso paint or Rodin sculpt. Forget the hyperbole—KC’s cocktail scene is supremely cool and infinitely creative, which, not coincidentally, are two ingredients essential to any of the drinks these places serve.

Here are some of the best cocktail bars in KC:


Speakeasy Style

Kansas City was once home to “the wettest block in the world.” Sure, Prohibition may have ended, but the 1920s live on in spirit—and spirits—thanks to a collection of new-age speakeasies that can be as secretive as they are sensational.

Travel to the Crossroads Arts District to find Tom’s Town, a distillery that touts a tasting room rivaled by few in the city. Grab reservations in advance if you’re looking to hit up Manifesto, an underground institution known nationally for its impeccable menu and intimate vibe.

Hotel Phillips demonstrates classic art deco style done right all throughout its lobby, as well as in its underground speakeasy, P.S. Concealed among a variety of other shops and stores, The W is a Lee’s Summit hotspot with an inspired menu and warm environment. 

House Special

Specialized flavors call for specialized bars, right? That’s where TikiCat comes in. The underground tiki lounge is filled with tropical decorations and pours drinks that transport you away to an evening on an island in the Pacific. Keep your eyes peeled for the Creature from the Black Lagoon as well.

Love bourbon? Head to Julep and The Belfry, two bourbon haunts that boast drinks made from the iconic American whiskey. Slip over to Ça Va for champagne and champagne cocktails unlike any else you’ll find in Kansas City. Get your Moscow mule fix at Avenues Bistro in the cozy Brookside neighborhood, where you’ll find four different styles of this tasty ginger beer drink.

Classic Cool

Sometimes you don’t mess with a good thing. Take Harry’s Country Club, for example. You could spend hours scrolling through its extensive drink list, but that’s not the point. The River Market watering hole is a perennial favorite for happy hours—and was recognized by Esquire as one of the best bars in America.

Step into the neon-lit SoT—“South of Truman,” if you’re savvy—for carefully concocted drinks served with eclectic flair. The Kill Devil Club draws Power & Light traffic with live music and special events while an evening at The Mockingbird Lounge means incredible patio views and a charming ambiance. Swordfish Tom’s, a new addition to the club, uses only premium spirits in cocktails that are both approachable and complex. 

Not Quite Cocktail Lounges

With a cocktail culture as wide-spanning as KC’s, there are bound to be overachieving establishments that craft excellent mixed drinks in addition to their main attractions. Burnt ends or smoked fried chicken, know that the drinks at Q39 perfectly complement whatever kind of barbecue you have on your plate.

Sample James Beard Award-winning food at Extra Virgin or Bluestem to toast with exquisite beverages.

CHECK OUT SOME OF KC’S HOTTEST COCKTAIL BARS

Ca Va

A jewel box located in historic Westport. Midwestern French bistro with an affinity for grower Champagne and sparkling wine. #ChampagneForThePeople

Julep

Whiskey house and cocktail club serving modern seasonal cuisine.

Manifesto

A boutique cocktail den located beneath the historic J. Rieger hotel.

P.S. Speakeasy

An affectionate nod to the city's glamorous past, a contemporary incarnation of the 1930's speakeasy. idden under the radar, delivering today's imbibers fresh craft cocktails.

Soft Conspiracy

Cozy hideaway lounge in Westport featuring exquisite cocktails and a reserve whiskey list.

Swordfish Tom's

Quiet, quaint, pre-prohibition cocktail bar. 30 persons max capacity. Hospitality and inclusivity driven. Serving cocktails, premium spirits and prime atmosphere for conversation.

The Hey! Hey! Club

Dark and swanky, with a fireplace, elegant lounge furniture and private bar, The Hey! Hey! Club is our cozy little underground lounge that makes a big impression.

The Kill Devil Club

The Kill Devil Club is an adult oasis, downtown. It's Kansas City’s newest hotspot featuring hand crafted cocktails, plates for sharing and live music that moves you. For a full list of upcoming acts check out Facebook.com/KillDevilClubKC or KillDevilClub.com

The Rieger

The Rieger is a popular chef-owned restaurant committed to being seasonal and locally sourced. Our handcrafted cocktails in a lively community and historic space make for fun filled night in KC. #BeautifulFoodForThePeople

Tom's Town Distilling Company

Tom’s Town Distilling Co. draws its name and inspiration from the country’s most polarizing and corrupt political boss, Tom Pendergast. Pendergast had roots in the liquor business as a saloon keeper and as the founder of a wholesale liquor company. Under Pendergast’s influence, Kansas City flouted Prohibition. Tom’s irreverence for federal statutes in favor of bare-knuckled local business dealings allowed his town to emerge as the “Paris of the Plains.” Money, jazz, and spirits flowed like water, right out in the open.