You might have read through my favorite cocktail bars in my hometown of Kansas City, Missouri. Many people know there’s another side of the state line. Locals are used to driving and working on both the Missouri and Kansas sides of the Greater Kansas City metro area. For a long time, Kansas liquor laws had limited cocktails to only be served with food. However, this changed in 2020 and new cocktail bars have been opening up on the Kansas side of the state line ever since. So, here are the best cocktail bars on the Kansas side, along with a few of my other favorite spots to grab a drink in Johnson County. I’ve been to most of these places multiple times and can say they are always a good time. Cheers!
This post was originally published in July 2020 and updated November 2022.
1. Drastic Measures – Shawnee, Kansas
- Address: 5817 Nieman Road, Shawnee, Kansas
- Hours: Tuesday-Thursday, 4pm-midnight | Friday-Saturday, 4pm-1:30am | Closed Sunday-Monday
- Hospitality: 5.0, very warm and inviting; they use the same red/green light system as Swordfish Tom’s, so you know if there is room for you to enter
- Atmosphere: 5.0, the space has been lovingly renovated by hand with details and touches from the past and present
- Drinks: 5.0, I had to control myself not to order the entire menu at once; I did try five cocktails in my first visit (with my husband)
Opening to the public in June 2020, Drastic Measures should go immediately on your list of places to visit. From Jill Cockson, the owner of Swordfish Tom’s, and bartender extraordinaire, Jay Sanders, comes this beautiful cocktail bar. This former doctor’s office has been built onto in three phases starting back more than 100 years ago. Its limestone walls and sumptuous decor will only pale in comparison to the delicious cocktails on the menu. This bar marked some of the early renovation in downtown Shawnee. Jay is getting ready to open a new bar next door in early 2023.
I enjoyed all of the drinks I tried but these two stood out. The cocktail on the left is the Deadeye Diaz. Described as smoke, spice, and tropical fruit, I couldn’t resist. It’s made with mezcal, passionfruit, Ancho Reyes, lime, and infused olive oils. The drink on the right is the Clothed & Alone. Its flavor profile is bright, vegetal, slightly bitter, and refreshing. The Clothed & Alone is made with chipotle pepper infused tequila (yum!), Giffard pamplemousse, Campari, and lime. I am not usually one for Campari in drinks, but this one was perfectly balanced. Hope you get to visit soon!
2. Verdigris – Leawood, KS
- Address: 5245 116th Place, Leawood, Kansas
- Hours: Monday-Thursday, 3pm-midnight | Friday-Saturday, 3pm-1am | Sunday, 4-10pm
- Hospitality: 5.0, from the smartly dressed bartenders to the high standards of service, you will feel pampered
- Atmosphere: 5.0, this is definitely a place to see and be seen, so dress to impress and enjoy the beauty that extends to the golden selfie wall and the restrooms
- Drinks: 5.0, the cocktails were in full summer mode and hit all the notes of light and refreshing (and the food we had were the perfect snacks)
From the team behind the Monarch Bar and The Mercury Room, is a lovely Park Place resident in Leawood. Named and styled after the green pigment created when acid is applied to copper, brass, or bronze, Verdigris is a true beauty. Occupying the former space of a coffee shop, this cocktail bar and lounge is here to stay. Their menu changes seasonally and is organized by flavor profile: classic, light, imperial classics, and rich cocktails. You’ll often discover a new favorite spirit and delicious snacks.
Two of my favorite drinks were the Rosemary, Baby (left) and the Ecotonal (right). The Rosemary, Baby is a blend of mezcal, blackberry, green apple, and rosemary salt. The Ecotonal was definitely my favorite of the drinks I’ve tried there so far. A mixture of rye, scotch, tepache, cacao, mint, malic acid, and hop water, it lands on a flavor that is interesting and intriguing. I try to get back at least quarterly to try my old and new favorites.
3. The Restaurant at 1900 – Mission Woods, KS
- Address: 1900 Shawnee Mission Parkway, Mission Woods, Kansas
- Hours: open 6 days a week for lunch and dinner; hours here | Closed Sunday
- Hospitality: 5.0, this place was so warm and welcoming, the staff was kind and just the right amount of chatty
- Atmosphere: 5.0, while they are operating from their patio (expanded to include part of the parking lot), it is modern and sleek with the right decorative touches
- Drinks: 5.0, the drinks we had were balanced and crisp, while also being unique and surprising
I first experienced dinner at The Restaurant at 1900 for my birthday in 2020. I had driven by the building that houses the restaurant countless times, but I had never been in. At four years old, the restaurant and bar is still unknown to some in the city. (I’ve been trying to change this.) The cocktails are really spectacular and pair beautifully with any meal they serve. I particularly loved the Green Parrot (left). Featuring light and dark rums, Aperol, passion fruit syrup, lime, pineapple, and pimento bitters, it was summer in a glass. On a recent visit, I enjoyed the Pear of Hearts (right). It was made with pear-infused bourbon and rye whiskies, yuzu caramel, cardamom and pimento bitters.
4. The Primrose – Mission, KS
- Address: 5622 Johnson Drive, Mission, Kansas
- Hours: Wednesday-Saturday, 4-11pm | Closed Sunday-Tuesday
- Hospitality: 4.9, the service was great and the bartenders were friendly and talkative
- Atmosphere: 4.8, the space is attractive and inviting
- Drinks: 4.7, solid drinks made from a nicely curated collection of spirits
The Primrose is the newest spot on this list of bars on the Kansas side. We visited on their fifth weekend of service back in September of 2022. They have a cute patio out front and cozy places to sit inside. I can see this easily becoming a beloved neighborhood spot for years to come. It’s just a few doors down from the popular craft brewery, Sandhills Brewing, so you can stop in before or after a pint depending on the crowds.
The signature drink, The Primrose, is a delicious blend of Tom’s Town gin, vermouth, Campari, rosemary simple syrup, lemon, orange, and egg white served in a smoked rosemary glass. I also enjoyed the Havana Halloween which is made with Havana Club rum, Kahlua, and pumpkin cold foam. It was complex and delicious.
5. Rye – Leawood, KS
- Address: 10551 Mission Road, Leawood, Kansas
- Hours: open 7 days a week for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner; hours here
- Hospitality: 4.8, this place is generally bustling and the waitstaff are always busy but knowledgeable
- Atmosphere: 4.5, judging on the basis of grabbing a drink, it’s an upscale version of a bar & grill
- Drinks: 4.2, with an emphasis on rye cocktails, you will also find other solid drinks like a rum punch and gin cocktails
Rye has long been one of my husband’s favorite places to dine. If you are looking for a farm-to-table meal and a great cocktail, definitely visit Rye. Either this location or their second location on the Country Club Plaza. Our last meal out with family, before everything shut down, was here. It was my father-in-law’s birthday and his request was good pie. Rye has that too.
Every good cocktail deserves brunch, and Rye delivers. I recently enjoyed mine with a Ramos Gin Fizz. It was made classically with Hayman’s Old Tom gin, egg white, lemon juice, lime juice, orange blossom water, and cream. I respect any bartender willing to shake one of these for their guests. I always order the cold smoked salmon with all the fixings. Get there early to share one of their homemade cinnamon rolls before they sell out. Another one of my favorite cocktail of theirs (not pictured), is the New Whiskey Sour. It’s made with Medley Bros. bourbon, Montenegro amaro, rooibos syrup, lime, egg white, and angostura. Yum!
6. Overland Park Grill (formerly J. Alexander’s) – Overland Park, KS
- Address: 11471 Metcalf Avenue, Overland Park, Kansas
- Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 11am-9pm | Friday-Saturday, 11am-10pm
- Hospitality: 4.8, a solid restaurant hospitality experience every time
- Atmosphere: 4.8, it’s dark with pendant lighting and you step up into the booths, but it’s cozy and slightly swanky
- Drinks: 4.7, a solid martini experience, strong cocktail list
One of my favorite things to do on a Saturday afternoon is to drive across the state line to walk around the shops at Town Center Plaza. I will get hungry and want a cocktail very shortly after that and I love making my way to the Overland Park Grill. They have the best fried calamari and fish tacos. And, the atmosphere feels like “old money” to me which puts me in the mood for a martini. They offer other cocktails, but the martini list includes seven flavors, including the English Martini (pictured above). Each martini comes with a side of more martini, so you can’t go wrong. This place is a Johnson County Kansas staple.
7. story. – Prairie Village, KS
- Address: 3931 West 69th Terrace, Prairie Village, Kansas
- Hours: Wednesday-Sunday, 4:30-10pm|Closed Monday-Tuesday
- Hospitality: 4.9, always a very nice, consistent experience at this restaurant
- Atmosphere: 4.8, for a strip-mall location, they’ve done a great job of transforming the space to feel cozy and sleek
- Drinks: 4.8, the drinks are great and although the menu is small, they are willing to take a few flavorful risks
Story has long been one of our special occasion restaurants. Their homemade cheddar focaccia has lingered in my flavor memories long after a great meal there. And, for me, every good meal deserves a good cocktail, and they deliver on that. They recently reopened to the public and have a large outdoor patio, if you aren’t ready to dine indoors yet. In addition to many delicious dishes, we sipped on these two beauties. The cocktail on the left is the Hemingway, made with Rhum Barbancourt, St. Germain, lime, and basil bitters. The drink on the right is the Purple Haze. It’s a mixture of Elvelo Blanco, hibiscus, creole shrub orange, and lime. Both were light and refreshing.
Other great bars in Johnson County Kansas
If you’re still in need of a few more recommendations for great bars in Johnson County, Kansas, here are a few more. I have been to most of these and I think you’ll find a great sip at any of these spots.
- Tavern at Mission Farms (Leawood, Kansas) – across the parking lot from Rye
- Louie’s Wine Dive (Overland Park, Kansas) – while they definitely focus on wine, I’ve had a few nice, basic cocktails there as well
- Gaslight Grill (Leawood, Kansas) – a nice spot for seafood & steak and a cocktail
And there you have it! My picks for the best bars in Johnson County, Kansas for cocktails. If you’re still in need of a place to try nearby, check out this bar in Lawrence, KS and the best bars in Kansas City, Missouri. These Kansas City distilleries also serve up some incredible cocktails. Cheers!