A Quick Start Guide to Kansas City’s Speakeasy Scene

A thriving town during the Prohibition era, Kansas City is home to a number of low-key watering holes we like to call Speakeasies. Thanks to the hoppin’ jazz scene and probably Mr. Pendergast himself, Kansas City bars know how to create that ambiance of exclusivity pretty dang well.

Kansas City Speakeasies

This is by no means a comprehensive list of every speakeasy in the city. There’s always somewhere more secretive in the wings. But if you’re having trouble finding a place to land, here’s a quick-start guide to six speakeasies in Kansas City– each so unique you’re sure to find something you love. Pro tip: Don’t wear a ball cap or flip-flops to these dives. 

1. Manifesto

Manifesto is a cozy cocktail lounge located in the Basement of The Rieger. On top of creative cocktails and warm hospitality, this place actually was a speakeasy back in the Prohibition era. Folks even say it was frequented by Tom Pendergast and Al Capone in the flesh. Named one of the “Best Bars in America” by Esquire magazine, Manifesto earns itself a Gatsby-style toast.

2. Swordfish Tom’s

This premium spirits and cocktails bar is located in a basement in the crossroads. Down a couple flights of stairs, past a capacity stoplight, and through an iron door, you’ll find this hip little spot. In addition to their cheekily titled cocktail list, they have a handful of quiet table games guests can play.

3. Hush

Hidden underneath the Broadway Bistro, Hush features live music Wednesday through Saturday, plus a list of kick-in-the-pants cocktails to keep you coming back for more. Located in downtown Kansas City, you can search for the red light by their entrance on Broadway.

4. P.S.

Open Tuesday through Saturday evenings, P.S. lives in the Hotel Phillips. P.S. calls itself a contemporary incarnation of the 1930’s speakeasy, with modern twists on classic cocktails and chic decor. This speakeasy is great for those looking for a more white-glove experience when it comes to their booze.

5. TikiCat

Let’s just get this one out of the way. Underneath Hopcat lives a little tiki bar named TikiCat. Serving up cocktails with fresh juice and an aloha spirit, TikiCat calls itself a “secret oasis.” I’ll be honest, I don’t vibe with the tiki thing. Something about this joint feels a little… disingenuous. But hey, you let me know what you think. I’m always down to be wrong.

6. The W.

If you’re willing to branch out to Lee’s Summit, The W. might tickle your fancy. The staff at this speakeasy puts as much effort into their cocktails as they do the ambiance. Guests are expected to conduct themselves with at least some semblance of class. Don’t we wish all bars would ask that?

Of course, the prohibition is over. These Kansas City Speakeasies aren’t necessarily trying to hide, but they do pay homage to the city’s rich history and culture. Plus, they make some delicious craft cocktails. So enjoy yourself, and be safe out there.

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