If you’ve visited Kansas City before, you know that it’s a food and beverage town. It has great breweries, some high quality distilleries, many incredible restaurants and BBQ. While I have written about many other cities, I would be remiss not to share my favorite spots in my hometown. I have been to the following cocktail bars in KCMO multiple times. These bars have consistently provided quality cocktails, amazing service, interesting menus, and great atmosphere. These truly are, in my opinion, the best cocktail bars in Kansas City. They are all on the Kansas City, Missouri side of the state line. For the best bars on the Kansas side read this post.
This post was originally written in January 2020 and was updated most recently in February 2022.
- Address: 210 West 19th Terrace
- Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 4pm-1:30am | Closed Sunday, Monday
- Hospitality: 5.0, they fully deliver on helping you get away from the outside world for a minute
- Atmosphere: 5.0, so fun, quirky, and inviting
- Drinks: 5.0, the best drinks in KC
Don’t let their lack of a website or any posts on their IG feed fool you – Swordfish Tom’s is the most unique and inventive cocktail bar in Kansas City. With a speakeasy vibe and a room full of vintage furniture, you will not be disappointed. (No matter how long you have to wait for the light to turn green.*) Owned and operated by the the amazing Jill Cockson, the bar is a jewel of the city. Featuring a rotating, seasonal menu and a few rules to adhere to (no photos, no phones, cash only), Swordfish Tom’s invites you to sit back and relax. Hailing from Lincoln, Nebraska, Jill is bringing craft cocktails to more than Kansas City. Shawnee, KS friends check out the second bar she opened in the metro with Jay Sanders. And, if that wasn’t enough, she also opened a third bar in the Crossroads.
*When the bar is full, guests sit in a holding room waiting for the light to turn from red to green. This is your signal that more guests can enter.
While the menu does change frequently, one of my favorites has held on for a few rotations. The D.C. Salsa (AOC personified in a cocktail) is SO good. It’s made with Una Vida Reposado tequila, peach liqueur, house made garden pepper syrup, and fresh lime. The cocktail is spicy, sweet, and tangy – pretty perfect if you ask me. The Tokyo Tiki (far right) is another great cocktail and is a variation of a Mai Tai. It’s made with Rihei Ginger Shochu, Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao, housemade orgeat syrup, and fresh lime. The citrus flavor really shines through. You will always find amazing flavor combinations on the menu. They also have a “Manhattan Project” menu full of riffs on the iconic drink.
2. The Monarch
- Address: 4808 Roanoke Parkway
- Hours: Monday-Saturday, 4pm-1am | Closed Sundays
- Takes reservations
- Hospitality: 5.0, classy and attentive
- Atmosphere: 5.0, the space inside and out are gorgeous, it’s definitely more on the fancy side at night
- Drinks: 4.9, the drinks are creative and delicious
It’s probably no surprise to anyone who’s been, but The Monarch easily makes the list of Best Cocktail Bars in Kansas City. The same team also has a bar on the Kansas side and another in the Crossroads. The bar is beautiful and the menu, based on the migratory patterns of the monarch butterfly, is ever-changing and gorgeous. The patio, with its sunken, cozy seating, is my favorite spot to grab a drink. Although, the inside is pretty plush too. You’ll find a DJ spinning tunes on the weekend.
See what I mean? These are so pretty! Left: Alcapulco Gold made with Sombra mezcal, Mezcal Union Uno, Bitterman’s Xocolatl Mole bitters, blue corn mole, blood orange, and a alaea mole salt rim. Middle: the menu’s table of contents. Right: Sixth Sense, a concoction of Roku gin, Averell Damson gin liqueur, Green Pu’erh tea, champagne acid, saffron lemon agrumato, egg white, and edible butterflies (not real ones).
- Address: 1521 Grand Boulevard
- Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 4pm-1:30am | Closed Monday
- Hospitality: 5.0, super friendly bar staff
- Atmosphere: 4.9, I love this spot and how from the outside you might miss it
- Drinks: 4.9, the drinks are great and the rotating menu is whimsical
If you’re walking or driving down Grand, you might miss SoT (“South of Truman”) on your first pass. Tucked into a rather plain strip of businesses, you’ll find this secret garden party bar. The bar is warm and inviting and there’s a charming patio outside to be enjoyed with a cocktail. On a recent visit, all of the cocktails were named after songs with a twist.
I swear I wasn’t here all day but I did see the sunset on the bar, see above. The cocktail on the left is the “Sloe Ride” a delicious combination of Plymouth sloe gin, Strega, Zirbenz, lemon, angostura, and egg white. The one on the right is “Hey, Mr Tamarind Man.” Made with Masuave Reposado tequila, Sombra mezcal, elderflower, Genepy des Alpes, and tamarind soda, it lived up to the description of “tangy, balanced, enlightening.”
- Address: 2700 Guinotte Avenue
- Hours: Wednesday-Thursday, 5pm-10pm | Friday-Saturday, 5pm-midnight | Closed Sunday-Tuesday
- Takes reservations
- Hospitality: 5.0, the bartenders switch off duties as waitstaff so everyone is super knowledgable about drinks and spirits
- Atmosphere: 5.0, swanky yet unpretentious
- Drinks: 5.0, great drinks with awesome ingredients
Nestled underneath the J. Rieger & Co. distillery, The Hey! Hey! Club is definitely one of the best cocktail bars in Kansas City. Open since the fall of 2019, it’s popularity is continuing to grow as a private event space and a great place to grab a drink. They serve a collection of cocktails built around the history of the city and feature a wide variety of spirits. The atmosphere is sleek and you’ll feel right at home with the staff. If you get hungry, snacks are available from the kitchen upstairs. You can also check out the newest addition to the distillery, Electric Park.
Sometimes a menu is too good not to order all the drinks you want to try. Clockwise from top left is the “Mochila” made with blended scotch, medeira, orange, lemon, egg white, and sherry cask cider. It had hints of chocolate and was super smooth. The top middle drink is the “Fort Union”. It’s a clarified milk cocktail made with genever, aperitif wine, bergamot, vanilla, turmeric, ginger, and grapefruit. It was light and tea-flavored. The drink to the far right is the “Mopac,” which is a light rum blend, mezcal, smoked pear shrub, and Brachetto D’Acqui. It was super flavorful and smoky. And, the drink at the bottom is the “Flintlock,” a rich blend of bourbon, Jamaican rum, vermouth, aperitif, and an amaro blend.
- Address: 1531 Genessee Street
- Hours: Thursday-Sunday 5-10pm | Closed Monday-Wednesday
- Hospitality: 5.0, you are family when you’re here around the fire or in the dining room
- Atmosphere: 5.0, like the most stylish glamping you’ve ever seen
- Drinks: 5.0, some of the best cocktails in Kansas City with ingredients you will want to buy and use at home
You know that feeling you get when you walk into a place and you feel like moving in? The Campground has given me those vibes since my first visit. Owners Christopher and Cristin Ciesiel started the restaurant in a shed. Opening to public in December 2018, they’ve now built a community. In addition to great food and drinks, they go the extra mile to bring people together. Whether it’s bringing in local musicians, celebrating the holidays with an outdoor Christkindlmarkt, or encouraging patrons to support local charities with them, it’s a truly special place. Located in the historic Stockyards District of Kansas City, this cocktail bar is one to visit.
The Campground introduced me to Zirbenz in their house gimlet (left). It’s a divine version of a cocktail I love that adds in tea and pine flavors to a gin and lime cocktail. I also love any drink with custom ice. The third cocktail is the Desert Paloma which is made with sage Mi Campo tequila, pamplemousse, Letherbee Besk, Rainwater madeira, and Jarritos. It’s the perfect representation of their drinks as they often make house infusions and combine bold flavors together in the best way. If you’re looking to bring some home, they also can some of their most popular cocktails.
6. King G
- Address: 500 East 18th Street
- Hours: Tuesday-Thursday, 4pm-midnight | Friday, 4pm-1:30am | Saturday, 11am-1:30am | Closed Sunday-Monday
- Hospitality: 5.0, excellent service from a friendly bartender
- Atmosphere: 4.8, a vibrant, light-filled space
- Drinks: 4.9, solid flavors and delicious drinks
Located in the Crossroads, King G opened in July 2021. After a nearly three year construction journey, the space is beautiful and generous in size. King G brings a fresh concept that combines an authentic deli together with two bars (one upstairs and one in the basement). The deli menu represents sandwich flavors from across the country. And best of all, you can order from the deli at the bar. The space is well designed, and the drinks were awesome. I am excited to hear about new people checking it out. They are also slated to open another bar off their alley later this year.
My favorite cocktail was the Fly by Night (left). It’s made with mezcal, Amontillado, Cafe Amaro, vermouth, and banana. The drink is smooth and delicious. Another incredible drink on the menu is called “Fearless John” and it’s a blend of rye whiskey, grapefruit, vanilla, lemon, egg white, IPA, and orange citrate. They also serve a nice selection of natural wine and beer.
- Address: 1830 Walnut Street
- Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 4pm-10pm | Friday-Saturday, 4pm-midnight
- Takes reservations
- Hospitality: 4.8, this is a fine dining restaurant without being too fussy
- Atmosphere: 5.0, it’s a gorgeous space with nightly live acoustic music, what more do you need?
- Drinks: 4.8, the food is the main event but the drinks are also fantastic
In addition to being a great restaurant, Corvino’s bar program is definitely notable. Plus, with live music and a fantastic happy hour, daily from 4-5:30pm, it’s a great spot to grab a drink. Corvino’s menu of shareable plates is a must for anyone who loves food. From homemade fries and fresh crudo to seaweed donuts and incredible desserts, you’ll leave happy if you like tasting a lot of amazing little dishes. I have never left hungry, despite some of the dishes being smaller. If you’re looking to splurge a bit, try the Tasting Room option.
The cocktail menu, which changes regularly, contains some real gems. One of my favorites is the “Weak in the Knees” which is made with London dry gin, paw-paw, yuzu-honey, lemon, agrumato, aquafaba, and black lime. Although this is a seasonal beverage, it does come back around. There are many other great drinks to enjoy like the Kurosawa (right). It’s made with Roku gin, Daiginjo sake, lemongrass, and aloe. A refreshing drink that pairs nicely with the food menu.
- Address: 4141 Pennsylvania Avenue, Suite 104
- Hours: Wednesday-Friday, 4pm-1am | Saturday, 1pm-1am | Sunday, noon-midnight | Closed Monday and Tuesday
- Hospitality: 4.6, they greet you and leave you in peace
- Atmosphere: 4.8, cozy, industrial vibes
- Drinks: 4.8, very solid drinks
If you are a whiskey lover, you have to get yourself to Julep for a flight or a cocktail. The bar is cozy and the staff are friendly. They also have a great snack menu and a great drink list. You’ll find both traditional drinks and seasonal selections. My only complaint about this bar is the parking in Westport. However, burning off some calories while you walk from the parking garage earns you an extra drink!
On my last visit, I enjoyed a seasonal drink (left) and a classic Julep (right). The “Black Flower” features JTB bourbon, fig, vanilla, lemon, and aromatic bitters. I was worried about it being too sweet but it was perfectly balanced with a hint of tartness. I also had the “Quintessential” Julep which is made with Julep’s own Ezra Brooks Distillers Collection bourbon, sugar, and mint. It was served properly in a Julep tin, so the Kentucky Derby would serve them exactly like this in the box seats.
9. The Ship
- Address: 1217 Union Avenue
- Hours: Tuesday-Wednesday 11am-11pm | Thursday-Saturday, 11am-1am | Closed Sunday and Monday
- Takes reservations
- Hospitality: 4.8, no nonsense service, the staff are friendly and hard-working but don’t linger
- Atmosphere: 5.0, you can’t beat a recreated bar from the 1950s
- Drinks: 4.5, you’ll find solid classic cocktails (reminds me of RJ Supper Club in Oklahoma City)
The Ship is a bit of a secret hideaway. Since it’s tucked away in the West Bottoms, you wouldn’t just pass by, unless you are part of the Saturday antiquing crowd. It’s just as well because that’s part of what adds to the charm of this cocktail bar. When you step inside this nautical environment you are about as far away from Kansas City as you can get. The bar opened in downtown Kansas City in the 1950s, closed in 1995, was put into storage, and was then rebuilt and reopened in a new location in 2014. (Read the full history here.)
Besides the kitschy vibe, The Ship also offers excellent pub food and entertainment. I once enjoyed a throwback vinyl night there that I will never forget. They recently expanded into the space next door and now have an event space called “All Else the Sea”. Do yourself a favor and sail away with The Ship sometime soon. And if themed bars are your thing, check out my other recommendations.
So, there you have it. My picks for the best cocktail bars in Kansas City, Missouri – my hometown. I would definitely suggest you try them out soon. And, let me know which ones you love. I am always looking for new places to try!