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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, and many incredible restaurants including BBQ. While I have written about many other cities, I would be remiss not to share my favorite spots from my hometown. I have been to the following cocktail bars in KCMO and Johnson County, Kansas many times. These bars have consistently provided quality cocktails, amazing service, interesting menus, and great atmosphere. These truly are the best cocktail bars in the Greater Kansas City area. Unless otherwise noted, they are located in Kansas City, Missouri. The list spans across both sides of the state line because the city is very fluid that way. And if you want updates on upcoming Kansas City bar events and happenings, I have a local Instagram account you can follow.

This post is updated annually. The most recent edition was published in September 2023.

1. Swordfish Tom’s

  • Address: 210 West 19th Terrace
  • Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 4pm-1:30am | Closed Sunday, Monday
  • Scores:
    • 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, some of the best drinks in KC

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 (no photos, no phones, cash only), Swordfish Tom’s invites you to sit back and relax. Hailing from Lincoln, Nebraska, Jill shares her approach to craft cocktails through multiple bars in Kansas City, including the next bar on the list and 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. 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 which includes riffs on the iconic drink.

2. Drastic Measures – Shawnee, Kansas

  • Address: 5817 Nieman Road, Shawnee, Kansas
  • Hours: Tuesday-Thursday, 4pm-midnight | Friday-Saturday, 4pm-1:30am | Closed Sunday, Monday
  • Scores:
    • 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 have to control myself not to order the entire menu at once

Opening to the public in June 2020, Drastic Measures should go immediately on your list of places to visit. 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 revitalization of downtown Shawnee.

The menu is always changing but some of the favorites stick around like these two. 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.

3. Verdigris – Leawood, KS

  • Address: 5245 116th Place, Leawood, Kansas
  • Hours: Monday-Thursday, 3pm-midnight | Friday-Saturday, 3pm-1am | Sunday, 4-10pm
  • Takes reservations
  • Scores:
    • 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 are delicious and iterative

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.

4. The Monarch

  • Address: 4808 Roanoke Parkway
  • Hours: Monday-Thursday, 4pm-midnight | Friday-Saturday, 4pm-1:30am | Closed Sundays
  • Takes reservations
  • Scores:
    • 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 operates Verdigris 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.

the inside of the monarch cocktail bar in kansas city

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).

5. Hey! Hey! Club

best cocktail bars in kansas city the hey hey club bar
  • Address: 2700 Guinotte Avenue
  • Hours: Wednesday-Thursday, 5pm-11pm | Friday-Saturday, 5pm-1am | Closed Sunday-Tuesday
  • Takes reservations
  • Scores:
    • 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, Madeira, 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.

6. King G

best bars in kansas city king g's bar
  • Address: 500 East 18th Street
  • Hours: Tuesday-Thursday, 11am-midnight | Friday-Saturday, 11am-1:30am | Sunday, noon-8pm | Closed Monday
  • Scores:
    • Hospitality: 5.0, excellent service from friendly bartenders
    • Atmosphere: 4.8, a vibrant, light-filled space
    • Drinks: 5.0, 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 are awesome. Every time I visit I think of when I can visit again. They also just opened another bar off their alley.

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.

7. Wild Child – Shawnee, KS

  • Address: 11022 Johnson Drive, Shawnee, KS
  • Hours: Wednesday-Friday, 5pm-11pm | Saturday, 1pm-11pm | Closed Sunday-Tuesday
  • Takes reservations
  • Scores
    • Hospitality: 4.9, efficient and friendly service
    • Atmosphere: 4.8, cozy and vibrant space (does get a bit loud)
    • Drinks: 5.0, delicious and inventive low- and no-ABV (non-alcoholic) drinks

Opening right next door to their sister bar, Drastic Measures, in July 2023 is Wild Child. From the very first week, when the soft opening was slammed by eager guests forwarding their invite, it’s been a hit. You will want to make a reservation for this colorful and creative bar. They are working to level the playing field for drinkers and non-drinkers alike. From deacoholized spirits made in-house to delicious wines and batched and bottled cocktails, you will find something for everyone.

  • Cucumber Fernojito – alcohol stripped Fernet Branca Menta, clarified cucumber juice, mint
  • Me and a Street Corn Kakigori – mango distilled mezcal, roasted corn, mango nectar, lime, Tajin
  • Vegetal – gin, clarified cucumber, celery, blanc vermouth, aloe, clarified bell pepper, basil distillate, citrus acids

8. The Campground

best cocktail bars in kansas city the campground bar
  • Address: 1531 Genessee Street
  • Hours: Thursday-Sunday 5-10pm | Closed Monday-Wednesday
  • Takes reservations
  • Scores:
    • 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.

9. The Mercury Room

the mercury room bar best bars in kansas city

I wrote a whole blog post on this lovely bar for you here.

10. Westport Cafe

best cocktail bars in kansas city westport cafe
  • Address: 419 Westport Road
  • Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 4pm-midnight | Sunday, 10am-11:15pm | Closed Mondays
  • Takes reservations
  • Scores:
    • Hospitality: 4.9, always great service from a hard-working team
    • Atmosphere: 4.8, sidewalk cafe vibes
    • Drinks: 4.9, delicious drinks always

If you haven’t checked out the Westport Cafe in Kansas City, you should really fix that. Open since 2012, this cozy French-American bistro has been a long time favorite of mine for a delicious meal and incredible cocktails. From brunch with friends to a romantic dinner, this place is always a good choice. The interior has a real Parisian vibe, the staff is friendly, and the cocktail menu is impressive. One of their cocktails became so beloved, it’s become its own stand-alone business – @bronsonsmilkpunch. You can still order at the restaurant or buy at local retailers.

Along with their menu of classics, they are coming up with some really inventive, seasonal drinks. I had the pleasure of trying a few. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Satisfied Mind: Armagnac, Cardamaro, apple cider and poached pear, lemon
  • Suze Valley Blast: Suze, Cap Corse Blanc Quinquina, blue curaçao, citrus cordial, soda
  • Yellow Datsun: Plantation Pineapple rum, creme de cacao, turmeric falernum, lemon, egg white, bruleed sugar and spices

11. Corvino Supper Club & Tasting Room

best cocktail bars in kansas city corvino supper club
  • Address: 1830 Walnut Street
  • Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 4pm-10pm | Friday-Saturday, 4pm-midnight
  • Takes reservations
  • Scores:
    • 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.

12. 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
  • Scores:
    • 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.

13. The Primrose – Mission, KS

bars on the kansas side the primrose bar
  • Address: 5622 Johnson Drive, Mission, Kansas
  • Hours: Wednesday-Saturday, 4-11pm | Closed Sunday-Tuesday
  • Scores:
    • 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 sits a couple of miles across the state line from the Country Club Plaza. 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.

14. CHEVAL on Main

  • Address: 3940 Main Street
  • Hours: Wednesday-Thursday, 3-10pm | Friday-Saturday, 3-11pm | Closed Sunday-Tuesday
  • Scores:
    • Hospitality: 4.8, friendly and efficient service
    • Atmosphere: 4.7, cozy French vibes
    • Drinks: 4.6, a small but curated selection of classic riffs

When the owners of the restaurant TAILLIEUR opened, they didn’t have a bar. They solved this dilemma by opening CHEVAL on Main directly across the street early this Fall. (I’m always excited when there are new cocktail bars in Kansas City!) CHEVAL means horse in French and the bar keeps up the interior feel of TAILLEUR. They serve cocktails, wine, and delicious small plates from the restaurant. As the streetcar extension project continues, this place is bound to become a hot spot in Kansas City.

I tried two cocktails at Cheval, along with a lovely glass of champagne. The first was the De-Frocked. It’s made with Aviation gin, Luxardo bitter, centerbe, lime juice, and simple syrup. It was bright and delicious. I also tried the Easy Like a Sunday Afternoon which is made with Sundays Japanese Whisky, toasted pecan orgeat, and Angostura bitters. A lovely riff on an Old Fashioned.

15. The W

  • Address: 6 1/2 3rd Street
  • Hours: Thursday, 6pm-close | Friday-Saturday, 5pm-close | Closed Sunday-Wednesday
  • Text 816-287-0000 for reservations

Tucked away on Downtown Lee’s Summit‘s 3rd Street, you’ll find The W through an unmarked, wooden door and up a flight of stairs. This dimly lit, cozy cocktail lounge has been a favorite amongst locals for 8 years. Their seasonal menu changes bring new in flavors constantly. But don’t worry, fans of the original Smoked Vanilla, you will still find that on the menu. They serve incredible cocktails that feature unique spirits and ingredients, including a menu of tropical drinks. Just ring the doorbell to get in. While there’s no password needed, reservations are highly recommended.

The drinks pictured are:

  • Action Bronson: Bronson’s Tropical Punch, Clairin Casamir, coconut cream, Jarritos Guava, Native Hemp Co. CBD gummy
  • Moon Flowers: Una Vida reposado, Cynar, Amaro Sibona, Blanc Vermouth, Elderflower, orange flower water
  • Butter-Scotched: New Roff Strother District #3 Single Barrel, Highland malt, butterscotch, saline, umami, smoke

Four New Bars in Kansas City Opening Soon

  1. Moon Bar (Operating currently as a pop-up) – follow them on Instagram
  2. Bar Medici (December 20, 2023) – follow them on Instagram
  3. Sagebrush (Opening in 2024) – follow them on Instagram
  4. Fern Bar (December 31, 2023) – follow them on Instagram

So, there you have it. My picks for the best cocktail bars in the Greater Kansas City area. I would definitely suggest you try them out soon. If themed bars are your thing, check out these recommendations. If I missed any of your favorites, let me know which ones you love. I am always looking for new places to try. Cheers!

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