One of the most common questions I receive on Instagram is, “Where should I go in KC for a good cocktail?”
Kansas City has such a vibrant cocktail and bar scene, my list could go on and on. Bryce and I love spending our time searching for unique lounges in the metro area. I thought it might be helpful to share my top picks. If you are visiting Kansas City for the weekend or have friends in town, enjoy a few drinks at some of my favorite establishments! Cheers to a fabulous time.
SoT, otherwise known as South of Truman makes the top of my list. I love SoT so much, that I will sit inside for two hours without air conditioning. And yes, I am speaking from experience. Their bartender that wears a legalize marinara t-shirt and is a cocktail magician. He truly is incredible and so are their drinks. Not too mention, they have a wonderful backyard patio and a mini library within their lounge. The vibe is casual, so it’s a great place to visit during the day and night. Their mantra is, “We take our drinks seriously, but not ourselves. Come as you are and enjoy the creations of some of Kansas City’s finest bartending.”
My go-to at SoT is the Zombie. Trust me – order one and you will be good to go for the rest of the night haha!
If you were a big fan of Manifesto in the crossroads, the Hey! Hey! Club will be reminiscent to you. J. Rieger (who owned Manifesto) has another speakeasy within their distillery. Everything from the ambiance to the drinks are fabulous. It’s a little off the beaten path, but so worth the trip to the East Bottoms. Not to mention, they have a slide you can ride down.
Before heading there, make sure to make a reservation. People will rent out the lounge for parties and it can fill up super fast during the weekends. And if you go, don’t forget to take a photo with the blue Great Dane that looks like Sky.
Here’s a little history about the original Hey Hay Club taken from J. Rieger’s website:
The original Hey Hay Club was located in downtown Kansas City at 4th and Cherry. It only lasted for a few years, 1931 – 1938, but in that time it played host to jazz musicians the likes of Count Basie, Lester Young, and countless others. True to its name, patrons sat on real hay bales (which were later used to feed livestock) and the stages were made of old hay wagons.
The Hey Hay Club was owned and operated by Milton Morris, a well-known entrepreneur and saloon owner throughout the 1930’s. Milton went on to own several other taverns such as The Novelty Club and Milton’s Tap Room, as referenced in Pee Wee Hunt’s recording, “Meet Me Tonight At Milton’s.”
In 1996, filmmaker Robert Altman memorialized the Hey Hay Club in his film, Kansas City. He changed the spelling of the name slightly for his fictionalized version, and our sign at the entrance is the movie prop used in the film. “The Hey! Hey! Club” is our tribute to Kansas City’s rebellious past, weaving another vital element of iconic KC history into the J. Rieger & Co. story.
This is the perfect cocktail lounge for a date night. It’s sexy, dark, chic and gives you NYC vibes. It’s like stepping back into time. I’m having a difficult time putting it into words because it’s something that cannot be written – you have to experience it.
The live jazz music is incredible. If you are wanting more modern jazz music, head over to Black Dolphin (Green Lady Lounge’s speakeasy). If you can’t find a seat upstairs, the basement is cozy and also has live jazz music along with a grand piano. The basement is referred to as the Orion Room and has chandeliers galore. I cannot recommend this place enough. Bryce and I always end our night out here.
My go-to drinks at Green Lady Lounge are a Horse-feather and a French 75.
If you are in the mood for a good cocktail that looks as beautiful as it tastes, visit Monarch in the Country Club Plaza. Although it’s definitely on the pricey side for cocktails, it is well worth the money. Each drink is a piece of art and totally “instagram-able”. The vibe inside is very up-scale and fancy, so wear a beautiful dress that you have been saving!
Okay … so this may not be a cocktail lounge, but you cannot miss the views from Percheron. It truly is the best place to sip on a cocktail or beer and look at the Kansas City skyline. The vibes during the summer are hard to beat! If you have family or friends in town, I highly recommend visiting. It’s a place where you can find something on the menu for everyone.
Percheron is located inside of the Crossroads Hotel. The lobby bar is just as phenomenal as the patio bar. They even have rotating art installations. I could spend hours wandering around the hotel!
Make a reservation. It fills up FAST.
With Manifesto gone, Swordfish Tom’s is one of the only speakeasies in downtown Kansas City. It is a small boiler room with amazing whiskey cocktails. They are a true pre-prohibition cocktail speakeasy. This is a cash only bar, however they do have an ATM inside. I recommend going at weird hours with a very small group. You can be waiting to get inside for over 2 hours if you go during the weekend.
With it being a speakeasy, there are no reservations. It is a first come basis and NO phones allowed.
Fern is not yet a cocktail lounge, but they are doing pop-ups all over Kansas City. They should have a brick and Mortar by the end of 2021!
Bryan Arri is the mastermind behind the concept and he is a FABULOUS mixologist. I almost put down Corvino on my cocktail list, but I remembered the reason why it was so good is because Bryan made the drinks for them for a while. He treats bartending like an art form and is so creative. Bryce and I just attended Bryan’s experimental tasting and he literally turned a Manhattan cocktail into spaghetti and meat balls. He truly is a genius.
Keep watch on the Fern Bar instagram account for his next pop-up!
Places On My List
The wonderful thing about Kansas City, is there is always something new. Here are a few places I haven’t visited yet, but heard amazing things about. These are definitely on my radar!
Save this blog post or share it with your cocktail drinking friend. Let me know your favorite below!
Until next time, Spread Kindness.