Bars, Boss Tom Pendergast, Speakeasies, Al Capone, Fitzpatrick’s Saloon, The Majestic, Kill Devil Club
Kansas City still holds fast to its legacy as a roaring boomtown of sinful indulgence. Here are some of best spots to guzzle classic martinis among the ghosts of Kansas City’s criminal golden age:
The Majestic: A preserved relic of the Jazz Age in downtown Kansas City, the Majestic operates out of the old Fitzpatrick’s Saloon building on 10th and Broadway. Boss Tom and his brother Big Jim were instrumental in the opening of the old saloon that served up booze and a brothel to the Quality Hill neighborhood in the years leading up to Prohibition. The Majestic now hosts jazz performers in what used to be the swinging speakeasy downstairs. If you’re feeling fancy, start your night with a meal at their steakhouse before making your way to the jazz club for a hand-crafted cocktail.
The Drum Room: Make your way to the old Hotel President to sip a Prohibition-era cocktail in its cozy-chic Drum Room lounge. The Hotel President opened in 1926 and its original Drum Room, opened in 1941, drew in celebrities from Frank Sinatra to Benny Goodman with the house band, the Warren Durrett Orchestra. The revitalized bar, with drinks such as Bootlegger’s Punch in dedication of Tom Pendergast and Truman-hattan, which utilizes Harry Truman’s favorite whiskey the Drum Room radiates the decadent charm of Kansas City’s more indulgent days.
The Kill Devil Club: Kansas City’s jazz legacy has as much to do with its early performers’ talent as it does with the influence of Tom Pendergast and his cronies on the nightlife scene. Pendergast and his inner-circle made beaucoups bucks off their sinful saloons, selling sex, drugs, and drinks at a hefty price tag. Though the Kill Devil Club in Power & Light has no structural roots in this era, its leather and wood décor and abundant jazz are classic Kansas City. Hear the music and have a rum drink and remember why we’re proud of our jazz heritage.
Manifesto: Just up Main Street from downtown proper, there is no better place to drink like a boss than the city’s slickest speakeasy in the basement of the Rieger Hotel, located on the same block as Tom Pendergast’s still-standing office building. The Rieger Hotel has its own mob roots—men using the restroom before entering Manifesto will surely delight in the “Al Capone Pissed Here” plaque above the urinal.
Manifesto is a straight-up-no-chaser speakeasy in the 21st Century. Guests are required to call or text the bouncer to make reservations, though there are no phones allowed in the basement bar. In a crowded cellar lit almost exclusively by candles, Manifesto is a truly transporting experience for those who long to party like its 1929. Their expert bartenders also serve some of the best cocktails in the county, including Prohibition-era choices not every mixologist can master. They even feature a whiskey drink named the Pendergast, sure to make you feel like just like the Boss.