KC After Dark
435 Magazine's ultimate guide to the city's best bars, entertainment, craft cocktails, live music and other nocturnal fun.
1. KC’s Best New Whiskey Bar
Julep Cocktail Club
Whiskey is the shining star of Westport’s newest watering hole. The aptly named Julep, owned and operated by Beau Williams (formerly the bartender at Manifesto) and his wife Keely Edgington, is the perfect culmination of southern cocktail culture and contemporary cool.
Julep’s extensive collection of whiskeys from all over the world is on display from the minute you walk in the doors of the stunning 1,000 square-foot bar. The floor-to-ceiling wall of whiskey includes samplings of scotches, bourbon, other American whiskeys as well as Japanese, Tanzanian, Indian, Irish and Canadian bottles hand-selected (and sampled) by Williams himself. If you are new to the whiskey game, Williams suggests one of Julep’s whiskey flights as a way to sample a wide variety of selections.
“Whiskey is for everyone,” Williams insists, raving about Julep’s deep inventory. However, there are also plenty of drink options for the non-whiskey inclined. For example, the Garden & Gun, a twist on a southern cocktail called the Bee’s Knees, is a masterful blend of Hendrick’s Gin, honey, lavender, lemon and orange bitters. Another favorite, Black Flower (Cabin Still Bourbon, vanilla, fig, lemon, Angostura Aromatic Bitters). A tasty menu of southern inspired bar bites from chef John Brogan, a Charleston, S.C. native, pair perfectly with the drinks menu. They also serve a Sunday brunch.
photo by brooke vandever
Williams and Edgington opened Julep in spring 2014 as an extension of their cocktail-centered catering company Hawthorne & Julep. “The mission we have set for ourselves at Julep is to put out consistent, great products and show unprecedented hospitality to every guest who walks in our door,” Williams says. “We can be three-deep to the bar on a Saturday night, and we won’t turn you away at the door. Just make yourself at home. That’s why we are here.”
Perhaps one of Julep’s most unique features is its whiskey locker program in which Williams hand-delivers customized whiskey selections to members on a bi-monthly basis. “It’s our version of bottle service,” Williams says.
From elusive bottles of Pappy Van Winkle to the latest cult Japanese whiskey, Julep’s whiskey collection begs to be checked out.
Julep Cocktail Club, 4141 Pennsylvania Ave. #104, Kansas City, Mo. (816) 216-7000 or julepkc.com
For reservations for Julep’s Whiskey Tasting Room which seats 30 or Champagne Room, which seats six, call ahead or email email@example.com.
More of KC’s Best Whiskey Bars
With more than 80 well-known and more obscure whiskey selections from moonshines to scotches, Barrel 31 is a whiskey-lovers paradise. But Barrel 31 also offers a full menu of heavy-pour cocktails, whiskey flights and cocktails made and aged in in-house oak barrels. Fun fact: Barrel 31 offers a weekday happy hour from 3 p.m. to 6:47 p.m.—the time of Tennessee whiskey distiller Jack Daniels’ death. barrel31.com
This West Bottoms eatery and bar has left its mark on the cocktail crowd with an extensive selection of whiskeys and hand-crafted cocktails, and Food & Wine magazine noticed, nominating it for the “People’s Best New Bar, Midwest” award last fall. Open for dinner and drinks Wednesday through Saturday, Voltaire has quickly become a KC favorite with its ruggedly handsome bar staffed with expert mixologists. Try the Stockyard Fix (Tito’s Handmade vodka, apricot, ginger, lemon, orange bitters). voltairekc.com
2. Best New Cocktail Lounge
L’Cove Lounge at Avenues Bistro
Since its opening in 2006, Avenues Bistro has been drawing foodies to Brookside with its European menu and impressive wine list. In November 2014, Avenues opened L’Cove Lounge—a cozy space nestled into the Avenues, which offers small plates, signature cocktails and a wide selection of wines and beers. Adorned with an entire wall of windows and soft, low lighting, L’Cove (pronounced ‘alcove’) conveys an al fresco atmosphere without losing the intimacy of a modern lounge. A revamped menu includes more than 25 bistro plates starting at $6, such as a savory brie and mushroom cobbler or Avenue’s famous bacon-wrapped dates. This romantic lounge is also perfect for sparkling prosecco and a late-night dessert, or sip your dessert with a silky Brandy Alexander. 338 W. 63rd Street, Kansas City, Mo., (816) 333-5700, avenuesbistro.com
3. Best Dom Pérignon by the Glass
Drum Room at the Hilton President Hotel
No matter the occasion, you can raise a glass of Dom Pérignon at The Drum Room inside the Hilton President Hotel. The historic hotel has the exclusive rights to offer this fine Champagne by the glass, rather than just the bottle, in Kansas City. Thanks to a state-of-the-art pouring system that preserves the Champagne’s signature effervescent bubbles, each glass of Dom tastes as if it’s just been uncorked. But at $45, it’s just a fraction of the cost of a bottle, which can be as much as $500 a pop. 1329 Baltimore Ave., Kansas City, Mo., (816) 303-1686, providence-kc.com
4. Best Jazz Joint
Green Lady Lounge
Kansas City is famous for its rich history in jazz music. For the best of the best, bring your hepcats to Green Lady Lounge. Located in the Crossroads district, Green Lady Lounge features music by some of Kansas City’s most talented jazz musicians seven nights a week at no cover charge. A mellow, unpretentious, yet classy atmosphere (think low lighting, rich wood tones and plush bordello-red booths) provides the perfect backdrop for a sultry evening. Order yourself one (or two) of Green Lady’s strong cocktails and settle in for a night of music laced in Kansas City’s heritage. 1809 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. (816) 215-2954, greenladylounge.com
Green lady lounge
More Hot Jazz Joints
The Blue Room at the American Jazz Museum
Nestled within the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City’s historical 18th & Vine Jazz District, The Blue Room continues to showcase up-and-coming jazz musicians while paying homage to stars of the past in an intimate setting. Bring your instrument and participate in the Blue Monday Jam session or just sit back and listen to some of KC’s finest. club.americanjazzmuseum.org
For years, The Majestic has played host to some of Kansas City’s best musicians. The legacy continues with nightly live music in the speakeasy-like, basement jazz club. Be sure to inquire about the Pendergast Club—the exclusive whiskey and cigar club on the third floor. A choice wine list, interesting cocktails crafted by nationally renowned bartender Sean Moriarty and a solid steak menu make The Majestic the perfect place to enjoy live music in this historic former saloon. majestickc.com
In addition to its famed aged steaks and fresh seafood, as well as its impressive wine list, Gaslight Grill offers live jazz by Kansas City-born clarinetist Lynn Zimmer year-round Wednesday through Sunday nights in the back room. Enjoy dinner, dancing and cocktails to the backdrop of Zimmer’s New Orleans dixieland jazz and you will feel transported to Bourbon Street. gaslightgrill.com
Plaza III on the Country Club Plaza
Enjoy one-of-a-kind entertainment from famed KC jazz legend and tap dancer, Lonnie McFadden, on the Club Level of the iconic Plaza III Steakhouse, Saturday nights from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. McFadden is the son of Smilin’ Jimmy McFadden, who danced with The Count Basie Orchestra during jazz’s golden age. Lonnie has performed with legends like Sammy Davis, Jr. Mix that jazz with a cold martini and a nice porterhouse and channel the cool vibe of the Rat Pack. plazaiiikcsteakhouse.com
Take Five Coffee + Bar
Located at Corbin Park in Overland Park, Take Five is a hip coffeehouse by day and a swinging jazz club by night. It’s a little oasis of hot jazz in the middle of suburbia. On Friday and Saturday evenings, Take Five features some of the best live jazz in the city and beyond. takefivecoffeebar.com
left to right: Brock schulte, kenny cohrs, alberto santo, jen tosatto at extra virgin. photo by brooke vandever.
5. Four of KC’s Buzziest Bartenders
In a city mad for mixologists, we gathered four of the best in the business and picked their brains about their techniques, style, coolest concoction and the cocktail trends they are so over.
Alberto Santoro, Michael Smith and Extra Virgin
Coolest cocktail I've made: “I suppose the most ridiculous cocktail I’ve ever made was a sidecar with some $700 Cognac we got from a distillery we were visiting in Cognac, France.”
Show-off cocktail technique: “I’m definitely showing off when I’m making six or more cocktails at the same time efficiently. People love the show and can’t really understand how you can keep track of all you’re doing. The quadruple stir and double shake is pretty fun too!”
Cocktail trend I'm so over: “I’m very much over the late ‘90s and early 2000s cocktail trend. It was really an awful time. Some people still ask for a martini menu as if they will only have a libation if it’s in a martini glass and called ‘something-tini.’”
Favorite cocktail den other than my own: “I’m a huge fan of Manifesto and The Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange
Favorite classic cocktail to drink: “A stirred Old Fashioned.”
Jen Tosatto, The Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange
Signature cocktail style: “Precariously balanced boozy cocktails. Very often with sherry in them.”
Show-off cocktail technique: “I do a super absinthe drip with the flaming sugar cube.”
Cocktail trend I'm so over: “Carbonated everything. I have no problem with carbonation per se, but some cocktails have no business being carbonated. I hate when bartenders do something just because it's cool. If it does nothing for the cocktail, then don't do it. This includes ridiculous garnishes.”
Favorite classic cocktail to drink: “An original gin martini. 50/50, Old Tom Gin and an orange twist. Heaven!”
Brock Schulte, Providence New American Kitchen and The Drum Room
Signature cocktail style: “KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid.”
Cocktail trend I'm so over: “Cosmos.”
Favorite bar other than my own: “Harrys Bar & Tables.”
Favorite classic cocktail to drink: “A Martinez.”
Kenny Cohrs, Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar
Signature cocktail style: "Classic craft cocktails."
Show-off cocktail technique: "I like to shake cocktails. Using fire is fun, too."
Favorite cocktail den other than my own: "Westport Cafe and Voltaire, but really I like to drink wine and beer when not working on cocktails."
Favorite classic cocktail to drink: "A Negroni."
6. Best Wine Bar
Tannin Wine Bar & Kitchen
Tannin’s website poses the question “Food obsessed wine bar or wine obsessed restaurant?” The answer is a toss-up but we know that KC’s Master Sommelier Doug Frost has tipped his hat to Tannin’s wine list. Located in the Crossroads, this urban eatery boasts an extensive list of seasonal wines by the taste (2 ounces), pour or bottle. Pair your Barbera d’Asti with New American dishes like crispy slow braised pork cheeks with white polenta and house-made kimchi or pan roasted chicken breast with foie gras stuffing. Wine lockers are available for true grape nuts, and be sure to inquire about special wine events like the past “Riesling Picnic.” 1526 Walnut Street, Kansas City, Mo. (816)842-2660. tanninwinebar.com
Other Places for a Good Glass of Grape
The recently reopened JJ’s earned a past Grand Award from Wine Spectator magazine. Fortunately, most of the restaurant’s wine collection was cellared off-site during the tragic blast and can be enjoyed at its reincarnated spot just down the road on the Country Club Plaza. Other spots for a good wine-down: Louie’s Wine Dive, Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant, Michael Smith, Morton’s Grille (with wine lockers for the BYOB crowd) and The Capital Grille.
7. Best Brew Pub
Bier Station, in Waldo, made DRAFT Magazine’s Top 100 List in 2014 for many reasons, including the 28 rotating brews on tap, a no-frills craft beer tasting bar/bottleshop and an upstairs biergarten with glass garage doors, communal tables and a more than solid food menu. Think: Farm to Market Bread Co. soft pretzels with a choice of dipping sauces and handmade bratwurst by a James Beard Award finalist chef. Wash it down with an Abita, Boulevard or Tallgrass. 120 East Gregory Boulevard, Kansas City, Mo., (816) 548-3870, bierstation.com
Other Brew Bastions
Plenty of artisanal beers await at The Belfry, where former “Top Chef “contestant Celina Tio is a certified Cicerone; The Foundry boasts lots of ales on tap, including beertails and beer flights, as do its two Westport siblings McCoy’s Public House and Beer Kitchen. Other ale houses like District Pour House; Waldo Pizza; Grinders; 75th Street Brewery (equipped with growlers and siphons), the new Local Tap (focusing on local craft beers) at One Block South and Flying Saucer Draught Emporium round out the beer hit list.
8. Best Bottle Service
Mosaic Ultra Lounge
Sleek and modern, Mosaic is as cosmopolitan as it gets. The luxe lounge serves Champagne by the bottle or the glass on an outdoor balcony with a fire pit, overlooking “Kansas City’s living room”—The Power & Light District. Book your private bottle service and enjoy the area’s premier DJs at this dramatic drinks den with a brand new state-of-the-art sound system. It was an explosion of glow sticks and electronic dance music when Mosaic recently imported DJ Audien.
1331 Walnut St., Kansas City, Mo., (816) 679-0076, mosaicmo.com
mosaic ultra lounge
9. Best Club for Dancing to Live Music
The Kill Devil Club
One of downtown’s hippest venues for cocktails and live music, The Kill Devil Club was voted one of the “Best New Bars in the U.S.” by Food & Wine Magazine in 2013.
From burlesque to Latin to swing, you can dance to live music seven nights a week on the spacious dance floor at this adult oasis in the Power & Light District. Sip the potent (and famous) Kill Devil Rum Punch or try other artisanal libations created by the team behind Manifesto. The swanky atmosphere of black leather seating overlooking the KC skyline, is also perfect for date night. Book a private cocktail lesson and tasting session through the Kill Devil Club Cocktail Club. 31 E. 14th St. Kansas City, Mo., (816) 471-0704, killdevilclub.com
10. Best Modern-Day Speakeasy
Manifesto at The Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange
Buzzed by Esquire as one of the best bars in America, Manifesto has been credited with upping the whole cocktail game in KC. With a back alley entrance and only 48 seats to spare, Manifesto is one of the most sought-after speakeasies in the city. If the 1920s vibe and the dimly lit basement locale don’t make you feel as if you’ve been transported to yesteryear, Manifesto’s “rules” of bar etiquette most certainly will. “Buy a stranger a drink. Chivalry is not dead” and “No screaming into your cell phone. Enjoy your present company,” are among our favorites. The cocktails at Manifesto are handcrafted by well-versed bartenders who are passionate about their craft and willing to share their knowledge with guests. Seating is limited, so reservations are recommended. Call ahead, and they’ll buzz you in the back door. 1924 Main St., under The Rieger Historic Hotel, Kansas City, Mo., (816) 536-1325, theriegerkc.com
Sterling pear fizz: citadelle gin, cardamaro, mathilde poire, lemon, grapefruit, blanquette de limoux, egg white. photo by anna petrow.
11. Real Deal Speakeasy
At its original location on 10th Street between Oak and Locust, The Ship opened its doors right after the repeal of Prohibition in 1935 and remained a popular destination for almost 60 years. From judges and politicians to prostitutes and hoodlums, Kansas Citians from all walks of life came “aboard” The Ship to unwind and relax. But in 1993, when the City of Kansas City condemned the building to make room for Ilus Davis Park, The Ship was forced to close its doors. Thanks to the foresight of several local men, the interior relics of The Ship were salvaged before demolition. Today, after almost 10 years of restoration, The Ship has been restored and sits at its new location in the West Bottoms. The Ship is open to the public for drinks and live music Tuesday from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m., Wednesday through Saturday 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. and select Sundays. 1217 Union Ave., Kansas City, Mo., (816) 471-7447, theshipkc.com
12. Best Hotel Bars
What is it about hotel bars that seem so alluring? Perhaps it’s the dream of escape while ensconced in your city. It’s hard to beat the fireplace and clubby oak paneled décor of The Oak Bar at the InterContinental on the Plaza, coupled with a glass of Cognac and live jazz on select nights. Chaz on the Plaza at The Raphael Hotel also offers an intimate and cozy setting for hot jazz on a cold night. And for real throwback appeal visit the historic Hilton President downtown, circa 1926, for live jazz in The Drum Room lounge where Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Benny Goodman held court. Not a jazz fan? Head to Bar Rosso at Hotel Sorella where cosmopolitan types sip a Delayed Gratification (mezcal, lime, cinnamon/nutmeg simple syrup, chocolate bitters) at a sexy, blood-red bar.
13. Best Classic Cocktail Den
Harry’s Bar & Tables
Harry’s, open nightly until 3 a.m. is a favorite late-night watering hole of industry types like mixologists, chefs and wait staff post-shift, so that tells you something. Go earlier and you may find a swanky crowd of business types in this classic Westport bar with old-school tile floors, a burnished wood bar and a full menu of whisky and classic cocktails like the Boulevardier or Aviation. 501 Westport Road, Kansas City, Mo., (816) 561-3950, harrysbarandtables.com
14. Best New/Old DJ in Residence
Fresh from 15 years in NYC, DJ Ray Velasquez returns to his hometown with new weekly residencies at the miniBar. It’s a cushy step up from his former KC warehouse events. On Monday nights he’s hosting “Rebel Rebel,” spanning 50 years of classic rock and pop from The Beatles to The Clash, “indie alt to ballistic block rockin’ beats,” in a show intended to cater to the service industry. Then on Friday nights he presides over “Deep.” Think: global house music popular in New York and Europe. This from a man who’s opened for everyone from Bebel Gilberto to Moby. 3810 Broadway Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. (816) 326-8281, minibarkc.com
15. Best Place to Watch the Big Game
Brookside’s flagship bar and grill, Charlie Hooper’s has been a Kansas City staple for 30 years. Serving up made-from-scratch pot pies, meatloaf and more, Charlie Hooper’s is also home to one of the most extensive beer lists in the city. Toss some darts, shoot some pool or watch the big game. There may be fancier sports bars, but none more neighborly. 12 W. 63rd St., Kansas City, Mo. (816) 361-8841, charliehoopers.com
16. Best Place to Get Up Close with a Band
There is no better way to watch a band than in a small venue—and in this city, there’s really no better small venue than the institution that is recordBar. Couple live music from Kansas City artists, as well as nationally known acts, with a build-your-own pizza menu, sandwiches named after cult tunes like Bizarre Love Triangle and a substantial drinks menu, and you have yourself a pretty rockin’ night out. Coming Feb. 6 indie rock band Bad Suns, Feb. 20, Evan Dando of ‘90s band The Lemonheads and The Districts on Feb. 25. 1020 Westport Road, Kansas City, Mo. (816) 753-5207, therecordbar.com
photo by brooke vandever
Other Live Music Venues Worth the Venture:
Arvest Bank Theatre at The Midland
One of Kansas City’s most historic concert venues, The Midland (which recently took on the Arvest Bank Theatre title thanks to a multi-year sponsorship deal) plays host to some of the city’s best entertainment. Recent performers have included Broken Bells, Ed Sheeran and Jack White. Up next: Enjoy John Mellencamp performing Valentine’s night at this red velvet and gilded jewel box. midlandkc.com
CrossroadsKC at Grinders
From rock and hip hop to bluegrass and reggae, CrossroadsKC, now in its ninth season, hosts dozens of outdoor concerts each year under the bright, beautiful Kansas City skyline. Notable past performers have included The Black Keys, Elvis Costello, Gotye, David Byrne, Ziggy Marley, Lucinda Williams, The Temper Trap and Blondie. crossroadskc.com
VooDoo Lounge at Harrah’s Casino, North Kansas City, manages to pull in some of the city’s best national touring acts for live shows in an intimate venue. Past acts have included Pete Yorn, Marc Broussard, Sevendust, Chris Isaak, The Original Wailers and everyone from Dwight Yoakum to Dweezil Zappa. Naturally, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy has also hit the stage! voodookc.com
17. The Happiest Happy Hour
la bodega at town center crossing.
There is a vibrancy about La Bodega that is infectious. Maybe it’s the communal nature of shared tapas, the delicious pitchers of sangria, the colorful wall art or the festive patio. Its well-attended happy hours are always energetic. Enjoy half-price tapas, $5 bar specials and $6 wines by the glass from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Sunday. Pair your $3 Modela Especial with the delicious Champiñones a la Plancha (roasted mushrooms with garlic and white wine parsley sauce). 703 Southwest Blvd., Kansas City, Mo., (816) 472-8272 or 4311 W. 119th St, Leawood, Kan., (913) 428-8272, labodegakc.com
More Killer Happy Hours
Bristol Seafood Grill
This classy seafood resto and bar offers up amazing deals like $1 oysters and $3.50 lobster claws Sunday through Friday 4 p.m. to 7 p.m, at its see-and-be-seen happy hour at the bar and on the patio. bristolseafoodgrill.com
Bluestem Restaurant, The Lounge
If you can’t splurge on dinner at this James Beard winning boîte, stop by for the value-laden lounge menu and drink specials in the chicly revamped lounge/bar. Tuesday through Friday, 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. bluestemkc.com
Located next to Michael Smith and owned by the same James Beard Award-winning chef, Extra Virgin has a sophisticated, industrial chic décor. Pretend to be a Euro and sample global tapas like wood fired hanger steak with grilled cherries, crab and corn fritters or grilled octopus nachos on the buzzy patio in warmer months. Pair it with one of mixologist Berto’s expert drinks. Happy hour specials include lower priced tapas plates and $2 off all cocktails and wines by the glass, Monday through Friday 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.. extravirginkc.com
Red Door Grill
From 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily, chef/owner Debbie Gold’s Red Door Grill offers a selection of $5 appetizers (smoky green chili cheese dip, anyone?), $3.95 cocktails, and $2.50 domestic draft pints and well drinks. And on Tuesday, “wine” down at Red Door Grill with select pours priced at $15 a bottle. reddoorgrill.com
Sullivan’s is one of our favorites for a filet mignon, bananas foster bread pudding and (when the weather warms up), live music on a picturesque patio. Happy hour specials run from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and all day on Thursday and include deals on select martinis, wines by the glass and bar entrees. Every Thursday is also live music night with $7 signature martinis. sullivanssteakhouse.com
18. Best Patio
Gram & Dun
This relatively new gastropub specializes in southern-inflected dishes and perfect libations, but its star asset may be its expansive patio. Gram & Dun’s enviable outdoor fireplaces and corner locale on The Country Club Plaza make it the perfect place to enjoy a casual evening or celebrate a special occasion. Dine on everything from corn-fried catfish to chicken and waffles. And with an extensive reserve wine list and cocktail menu (try the Old Fashioned with local Dark Horse Distillery Reserve Bourbon Whiskey), you won’t want to leave this patio paradise. 600 Ward Parkway, Kansas City, Mo., (816) 389-2900, gramanddun.com
19. Best Passport to a Different Country
Wunderbar at Grünauer
A little Austria in the heart of Kansas City, Wunderbar is an authentic, family-owned establishment with roots in Vienna. Grünaeur restaurant will transport your palate across the pond, while Wunderbar’s late-night libations will keep you on vacation into the wee hours. Splashes of fresh citrus, homemade syrups and infusion of unique flavors produce one-of-a-kind Austrian-American hybrid cocktails. Wunderbar also offers ample beers and wines native to central Europe. Enjoy a brat or Bavarian pretzel with a streudel-inspired cocktail made with dark rum and Kansas City will seem very far away. Wunderbar is open from 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily. 101 W. 22nd St., Kansas City, Mo., (816) 283-3234, grunauerkc.com
20. Best Honky Tonk
Harry’s Country Club
Nestled into the River Market district and widely regarded as having one of Kansas City’s best whiskey selections, Harry’s is nothing like its moniker might suggest. Rather, it is the perfect blend of a hip honky tonk and a cozy roadside bar in the heart of Kansas City. National drink expert David Wondrich called it “unpretentious but not divey.” And with a drink menu that boasts a similarly extensive selection of brews from around the world, as well as Kansas City’s own Boulevard beer, Harry’s has something for everyone. In 2013 Esquire magazine agreed, naming it one of the “Best Bars in America.” 112 E. Missouri Ave., Kansas City, Mo., (816) 421-3505, harryscountryclub.com
More Saloons With Style:
The Old West meets a modern roadside biker bar at Knuckleheads Saloon. Listen to national blues and country music acts on indoor and outdoor stages to the backdrop of the trains rolling by. A cowboy bar through and through, PBR Big Sky brings the country to the KC Power & Light District. Ride the mechanical bull or enjoy live country and southern rock as you throw back a couple of cold ones. Kanza Hall at One Block South is the place to go for serious line dancing to live country and rock acts, while BB’s Lawnside BBQ has been serving up tasty burnt ends, plus Louisiana fare, with a side of blues for more than 20 years.
21. Best Cultural or Sporting Night Out
Kansas City has a myriad of non-bar alternatives for a festive night out. Pinstripes at Prairiefire takes bowling to the next level with an upscale venue featuring a bistro, live blues and jazz, wine, bocce and an outdoor patio with fire pit. Dancers and vintage-lovers can catch swing dancing on Fridays and salsa dancing on Saturdays at the old-school Chesterfield Club within Alamo Drafthouse. Culture vultures will want to take in a First Friday of gallery hopping in the Crossroads, The Nelson-Atkins Museum’s new Third Thursday events or the Kansas City Symphony’s monthly free Happy Hour Concerts with cash bar. Sportier types can’t go wrong with special night races at the Kansas Speedway, an evening Sporting KC game or fireworks night at the Royals game. If all else fails, find out if luck is a lady at the casinos at Ameristar, Argosy or Harrah’s.
22. Best After-Hours Scene
Everybody knows Town Topic is Kansas City’s original greasy spoon, and post midnight draws the most interesting crowds at this open-24-hours institution on Broadway. It’s known for its burgers but patrons also rave about the malts and the Truckstop Omelet. Another place to view florid night crawlers in their own environment is iPhotower, the Vietnamese-French bistro on Broadway serving steaming bowls of pho, dumplings and tamarind wings way past midnight in a neon-lit décor, with Asian karaoke in the back room. Lastly, try the late-night happy hour from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. at Westport Café and Bar, including a bargain $10 steak frites, and pretend you and your love are canoodling at a romantic French bistro on the Left Bank.
23. Uniquely KC
Snow & Company
Named by Paste Magazine as the No. 1 Frozen Cocktail Bar in America, this icy paradise is located in the Crossroads and Gladstone. Snow & Company serves up made-from-scratch frozen cocktails from fresh ingredients and top shelf liquor. Try The Rockefeller (Old Overholt rye whiskey infused with real cherries blended with Cinzano sweet vermouth and Angostura bitters). snowandcompany.com
A masterful blend of nightlife entertainment combining dance, aerial acrobatics, avant garde fashion and live music, Quixotic will blow the traditional connotations of a “night at the ballet” completely out of the water. With its captivating, big-top-esque productions, Quixotic Fusion has been thrilling audiences throughout the country and in its hometown of KC since 2005. quixoticfusion.com
Dust off your dancing shoes at this wonderfully quirky dance club unique to KC. Plan to lose your inhibitions as you groove to nostalgic hits from the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s. And though a cocktail undoubtedly makes one a better dancer, there’s no drink minimum and an affordable cover at the door, so for a carefree night out, you just can’t beat it (or maybe you can if the Michael Jackson tune comes on!). 8300 Blue Parkway, Kansas City, Mo., (816) 737-3865, funkytownkc.com
Best Hangover Brunches
Continue the night’s revelry the next AM at jazz club The Phoenix’s famed “hangover brunch” with French toast, bacon and a side of Alex Abramovitz and His Swing’n Kansas City Jazz Band from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. It’s a Sunday, Bloody Sunday at the Nuevo Mexican eatery Port Fonda with a serious bloody mary bar for the hair of the dog. Knock it back with a plate of chilaquiles or hearty pozole verde. Suburbanites flock to Bristol Seafood Grill in Leawood for a bountiful Sunday brunch buffet, including several brunch cocktails and bloody marys, as well as omelet, seafood, sushi and carving stations. Enjoy prime people watching on the Plaza patio of Classic Cup Café over a Sunday brunch of eggs Benedict, Dutch babies and of course a hot cup of Kansas City Blend.
Alberto Santoro, mixologist at Michael Smith and Extra Virgin and president of the local chapter of the United States Bartender’s Guild, shares a Valentine’s Day cocktail recipe that is a pretty, pale pink color and embodies just the right amount of sweet and tart.
Old Souls and Zoo Animals
1.5 ounces Plantation Jamaica Old Reserve 2000 Rum
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
½ ounce cinnamon syrup
1 ounce fresh grapefruit juice
3/4 ounce Falernum (use Bitter Truth Golden Falernum or John D. Taylor’s Velvet Falernum, or make your own like Alberto. See recipe below.)
5 dashes Angostura Bitters
Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime wheel and a candied Amarena cherry.
Santoro’s recipe for house-made Falernum:
8 limes zested
2 ounces minced ginger
1 star anise
1/4 ounce orange blossom water
10 ounces high proof rum (Plantation Original Dark Overproof)
Steep the above ingredients for 24 hours and strain then add:
13 ounces simple syrup
1 ounce lemon juice
3 1/2 ounces lime juice
1 ounce Amarena syrup
Best Seasonal Beer Picks
As recommended by Celina Tio, Cicerone and owner of The Belfry
Sierra Nevada Harvest Fresh Hop IPA
Ginger-lemon radler (this one’s great added to a cocktail)
St. Lupulin, Odell Brewing company
Founders Double Trouble IPA
Sierra Nevada Harvest Wet Hop IPA
Odell Isolation Ale
Schlafly Tasmanian IPA
Madrugada Obscura Dark Brown Stout , Jolly Pumpkin Aristan Ales
Bell's Hopslam Ale