Kansas City’s cocktail scene runs deep and wide with fine whiskeys and bourbons being mixed, smoked, or served neat to savor this fall and winter.
Kansas City master whiskey distillers — Alex Lindsey (West Bottoms Whiskey), Benay Shannon (Restless Spirits), Tom Nichol (Rieger & CO), and David Epstein at Tom’s Town Distilling Company – honor the old while releasing new, innovative whiskeys that are turning heads nationally.
Belly up to the bar and these passionate Kansas City distillers guide you to a whiskey cocktail that matches your mood.
If you’ve visited a bar with a decent cocktail menu, you know that it can be hard to choose something that you know you’ll like. Many bars also offer seasonal drinks or entire rotating menus of cocktails which makes it even harder to pick.
As a cocktail blogger, I love trying all the newest flavors, spirits, and ingredients. But, I also love returning to a tried-and-true drink. As the seasons change from Summer to the colder months, I am looking for bolder flavors in my glass. These bourbon and whiskey drinks in Kansas City highlight both the classics and twists on original recipes.
West Bottoms Whiskey
1321 W 13 St, Kansas City, MO 64102
West Bottoms Whiskey is the new kid on Kansas City’s distilling scene. The product is stellar and the ambiance, pure gold.
When it comes to classic whiskey cocktails, there’s none more well-known than the Old Fashioned. It’s a simple, three-ingredient cocktail but you’ll find varying levels of perfection. When West Bottoms Whiskey opened in January 2021, they wasted no time getting drinks on the menu. Their Old Fashioned ($13) is named “The BEST” in the city, and I dare you to try it and tell me what you think.
The Hey! Hey! Club
2700 Guinotte Ave, Kansas City, MO 64120
In the basement of the most well-known distillery in Kansas City, you’ll find a truly special bar. Along with live music and a sophisticated yet cozy interior, you’ll find some pretty incredible drinks.
One of my favorites is the Flintlock ($15). Not only is it beautiful, thanks to the stamped clear ice, it also tastes amazing. It is made with bourbon, Jamaican rum, vermouth, aperitif, and an amaro blend. A great way to end any evening.
Every visit comes with risks, warns Ryan Maybee, co-founder of J. Rieger & Co. “If you come to Kansas City, you’ll end up wanting to live here.” (via WhiskeyAdvocate)
J. Rieger’s Kansas City Whiskey is a blend of Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Light Corn Whiskey, and Straight Rye Whiskey, all aged at least 4 years, as well as a small amount of 15-year-old Oloroso Sherry from the Williams & Humbert Bodega in Jerez. Bottled at 92 proof, Kansas City Whiskey is well-balanced, smooth, and slightly sweet. It’s beautiful when served neat or on the rocks but also works well in classic Bourbon – or Rye-based cocktails such as the Horsefeather, Manhattan, and Old Fashioned.
900 Westport Rd, Kansas City, MO 64111
Chewology is a Taiwanese gyoza bar that has just moved into the former Bluestem space in Westport. In addition to serving up handmade dumplings, bao buns, and noodles, you’ll also find an incredible cocktail menu.
One of my favorites is a complex riff on the classic Manhattan recipe. The ‘823’ is made with sesame-oil washed Rittenhouse rye, Kavalan whisky, Cocchi Torino Rosso vermouth, Braulio, birds eye chili and iron demerara ($14). A truly special drink with ingredients from all over the world.
1221 Union Street, Kansas City MO 64101
Hailing from perhaps one of the most notorious bars in Kansas City, The Ship, you’ll find a great representation of a New Orleans classic from the 1930s. Get to the ship and order the Vieux Carre’. It’s made with Overholt Rye, cognac, sweet vermouth, Benedictine, and Angostura and Peychaud’s bitters. My favorite part is sipping it inside a reconstructed ship-themed bar from 1950s Kansas City.
1701 Main Street, Kansas City, MO 64108
Head to Tom’s Town Distillery on Main and make your way to the back to the alluring Pendergast Lounge. Tom’s Town Distillery is the first legal distillery to open in downtown Kansas City after the prohibition.
Order a Tom Pendergast made with the distillery’s award-winning bourbon for $13. It’s made with double oaked bourbon, lemon juice, smoked cinnamon agave, sweet vermouth and Mezcal.
And there you have my five picks for the best bourbon and whiskey drinks in Kansas City, right now. If you’re a fan of local spirits, Kansas City has some incredible distilleries creating quality products.
Whiskey Shopping Hotspots in KC
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