These quintessential beverages quench Kansas City’s thirst

By Pete Dulin

The Rieger/Manifesto

Manifesto Drink

Bartender Ryan Maybee, co-owner of The Rieger, also owns cocktail lounge Manifesto which is located below the restaurant. The Pendergast, named after infamous political heavyweight “Boss” Tom Pendergast who reigned locally during Prohibition, nods to the city’s storied past. Maybee’s drink offers a contemporary spin on a Manhattan with Bénédictine. The Pendergast is a potent blend of Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Dolin Sweet Vermouth, Bénédictine, and Angostura Bitters. A barrel-aged version of the cocktail is also available.

The Horsefeather’s lineage traces back to a drink known as “Horse’s Neck” as recorded in Jacques Straub’s 1914 book of recipes simply titled Drinks. Then, the non-alcoholic drink was comprised of ginger beer and a lemon rind garnish. Today, the cocktail includes whiskey and bitters for good measure. The J.Rieger Horsefeather uses the namesake KC distillery’s whiskey, which is blended with Oloroso sherry from Jerez, Spain, to add a touch of sweetness. Bitters, ginger beer and a lemon rind complete the cocktail.

Columbus Park, a cocktail named after the Kansas City North End neighborhood, is a variation on a Boulevardier, or a similar cocktail known as Little Italy which is itself a take on a Manhattan. For The Rieger’s version, sweet and slightly bitter herbal liqueur Averna adds another layer of flavor to Four Roses Private Selection Cask Strength Bourbon, Carpano Antica and Campari used in the drink.

The Drum Room


Drum Room

A Dark ’N Stormy is a highball made with dark rum and ginger beer over ice with a lime slice as garnish. Barritt's Tipple is both a nod to Barritt’s brand of ginger beer produced in Bermuda and an update on a Dark 'N Stormy. At The Drum Room, an infusion of Chinese five spice adds kick to Gosling's Dark Rum. The addition of ginger soda and lime cordial ensures smooth sailing while savoring this drink. Ford’s Bramble Tonic is named after President Gerald Ford’s alleged favorite drink, gin and tonic. This cocktail spruces up Pinckney Gin and house-made tonic syrup with lemon juice and fresh blackberries.


Bluestem in Westport

The Longfellow is bartender Andrew Olsen’s transformation of a Martinez (a predecessor to the martini), normally made with gin, vermouth, Italian maraschino liqueur Luxardo and orange bitters with orange garnish. Olsen named this drink after his downtown neighborhood and wanted to incorporate Bénédictine into a classic Martinez. His version sought “seamless harmony” with the use of Nolet’s dry gin, Dolin Rouge, Bénédictine and honeysuckle cardamom bitters, stirred and served with a single large ice cube and garnished with a swath of lemon peel. The drink’s floral rose and citrus notes precede initial peach, raspberry and floral flavors from the gin’s botanicals followed by sweet raisin and fig from the vermouth.

The W

This modern-day speakeasy is a treasure worth seeking out in downtown Lee’s Summit. Make advance reservations to slip into this popular, upscale lounge, where bartender Mike Strohm offers attentive service and cocktail presentation with flair. Strohm’s Snowfall Cobbler is a contemporary winter version of a Sherry Cobbler, a summer cocktail popular in the 1800s that used fresh berries, sugar and sherry. Strohm’s interpretation dazzles the senses with its mix of sherry, house-made orange marmalade, lemon juice, cranberry, rosemary and nutmeg.

Port Fonda

Port Fonda by Megan Swann of Star Chefs

Port Fonda’s cocktail menu is a passport to sunny climes, in spirit at least. The restaurant’s Michelada is a spicy interpretation of cerveza with lime juice and peppery sauce. They use house-made hot sauce, fresh lime, serrano chili and salt with Pacifico. In its most basic form, a Paloma is tequila mixed with grapefruit soda and lime juice. The kick in Port Fonda’s Spiced Paloma comes from serrano-infused plata (silver) tequila blended with fresh grapefruit juice, Jarritos toronja grapefruit soda, lime and serrano-laced salt. For a tropical twist on a classic, consider the Orange Ginger Margarita made with reposado (“rested” or oak barrel-aged) tequila, Solerno blood orange liqueur, fresh orange and carrot juice, ginger agave syrup and citrus salt.


Julep in Westport in Kansas City

The Bee's Knees is a classic gin sour made with London Dry Gin, lemon juice and honey, hence the name. Julep’s owners Beau Williams and Keely Edgington Williams offer Garden and Gun, named after the Southern lifestyle magazine. This best-selling version uses Hendrick's Gin and incorporates honey-lavender syrup in the mix and a few dashes of orange bitters. The lavender provides a top note and the bitters fill in the void on the palate. Garnished with a cucumber slice, the result is a refreshing, floral and bright cocktail with a beautiful pale golden hue.


This Mexican restaurant and tequileria takes a traditional Moscow Mule south of the border via the Country Club Plaza. Instead of vodka, ginger beer and lime juice, the Mexican Mule combines serrano-infused Patrón tequila, lime, fresh ginger and Gosling's ginger beer.

Westport Cafe and Bar

Westport Cafe & Bar

Bartender Bronson Kistler updates the Old Fashioned, traditionally prepared with four ingredients: a spirit mixed with bitters, sugar and water. For Brother's Keeper, the cocktail uses Old Overholt Rye Whiskey, Fernet Branca and Yellow Chartreuse. Kistler notes that the rye whiskey serves as the base spirit, Fernet Branca replaces the bitters and herbaceous Yellow Chartreuse sweetens the cocktail. Kistler says, “The result is what one might call a brother to the Old Fashioned, keeping the classic definition of this cocktail intact while putting a couple of twists on the ingredients.”


The Old Square is based on the New Orleans classic Vieux Carre made with Cognac and rye whiskey. Bartender Van Zarr’s version uses local Union Horse Distillery’s Reunion Rye, vermouth rouge, VS Cognac and Bénédictine with dashes of Peychaud’s and Angostura bitters. The cocktail is pre-batched and barrel-aged. Served over a big chunk of house-cut ice, The Old Square is garnished with a flamed orange peel.


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