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Bar Guide: What your favorite drink says about you

Photographer: Rich Sugg, The Kansas City Star

Makeup artist: Michelle Taylor

Models: Whittney and Brittney Burnett, Voices &

Drink stylist: Sarah Gish

Art direction: Jennifer Hack, Tasha Fabela-Jonas

Clothing: Standard Style

Background: Kansas City Upholstery

“I’m tough.”

Old Fashioned Ass Kickin’

Whiskey is the ultimate statement-maker.

“If somebody orders a whiskey on the rocks, that’s a business drink,” David Smuckler says.

The bartenders we spoke with agreed that rye whiskey and Irish whiskey (think Jameson) are having a moment. Ordering them on ice or neat — that’s room temperature, with no water added — is the way to experience the spirit’s subtleties.

Want to kick it up a notch? Order an Old Fashioned Ass Kickin’ from a bartender at Barrel 31 and prepare yourself. The drink mixes Jack Daniel’s Tennessee whiskey with cherry moonshine, Peychaud’s bitters and a zesty-hot orange-habanero shrub.

If you like the Old Fashioned Ass Kickin’ …

You’re not scared of a drink that bites back.

You’ve sampled your way through the deep whiskey and bourbon selections at Voltaire and Harry’s Country Club, and you were first in line for the opening of Julep, a new whiskey bar in Westport.

You have your favorite — maybe it’s Jameson, Templeton Rye, Bulleit — and you’ll dole out an Old Fashioned Ass Kickin’ to anyone who says their favorite whiskey is better.

The Old Fashioned Ass Kickin’ costs $9 at Barrel 31.

“I’m down to earth.”

Genesee Beer tallboy

Anna Cole has no beef with yard beers such as PBR, Miller High Life and Coors.

“They’re easy to drink, you can drink quite a few of them, and for cheap,” she says.

When it opens Friday, Cole’s bar, Barcadia on 5th, will serve 24-ounce “tall boy” cans of Genesee beer brewed in Rochester, N.Y. Cole calls Genesee tallboys “the new PBR.”

Hang on the patio at Riot Room and you’ll see what she means — it’s Genesee tallboys from wall to wall. The light lager goes down like carbonated water, which is a good thing if you prefer chugging to sipping.

If you like Genesee tallboys …

You don’t need a fancy drink to have a good time, which is a good thing, because you’re on a budget.

You know where to get Schlitz on tap (at Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange and you learned from your dad that Miller High Life is, in fact, the champagne of beers. For you, there’s no shame in keeping it real — real cheap and real easy.

Genesee tallboys cost $2 at Barcadia on 5th.

“I’m here to party.”

Fireball Cinnamon Whisky shot

In 12 years as a bartender, Anna Cole has seen many drink trends come and go.

She says that lately, customers can’t seem to get enough of Fireball Cinnamon Whisky, a whiskey-based liqueur that tastes exactly like Atomic Fireball candy.

“It’s the new popular shot,” Cole says.

Some people shoot Fireball Cinnamon Whisky straight, and others mix it with RumChata, which blends cream with rum and cinnamon. That blended shot tastes almost exactly like the leftover milk from a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal. It goes down easy — almost too easy — which is why the shot is popular among the late-night crowd.

Despite its dangerous-sounding name, Fireball has a lower alcohol content than true whiskey, which is usually around 40 percent alcohol by volume. Fireball is 33 percent alcohol by volume, and if you mix it with RumChata (at 13.75 percent ABV) you dilute the shot even more.

If you like Fireball Cinnamon Whisky …

You see yourself as a daredevil who’s always up for another round. You like the idea of taking whiskey shots but don’t love the taste of actual whiskey.

Your goal is to catch a buzz, do some dancing and have a blast with you friends — not to impress everyone with your sophisticated knowledge of wine/scotch/craft beer.

A shot of Fireball Cinnamon Whisky costs $4 at Barcadia on 5th. .

“I’m super-sweet.”

Moscato Sangria

Traditional sangria sweetens wine with hunks of fresh fruit, plus orange juice, sugar or honey.

At Tavern in the Village, the Spanish nectar gets even sweeter with Moscato wine, which tastes like peaches, apricots and orange blossoms.

David Smuckler’s Moscato Sangria starts with muddled fruit. Depending on what’s in season, he’ll use blackberries, strawberries or blueberries, plus lemon, lime and orange juice.

A dash of peach bitters and Aperol, an Italian apertif, balance out the natural sugar in the fruit and wine.

If you like Moscato Sangria …

You’re a social drinker who hates to be bowled over by the burn of alcohol. Sangria has been your go-to drink since you fell in love with it at La Bodega’s happy hour.

Cider is the only beer you’ll drink, and when it comes to hard stuff like vodka, you’re not interested unless it tastes like candy. Because why be bitter when you can be sweet?

Moscato sangria costs $9.75 at Tavern in the Village or Tavern at Mission Farms.

“I’d rather be poolside.”

Grapefruit Floral Radler

Last summer, a grapefruit-flavored Austrian beer with a bright orange label took Kansas City bars by storm.

Stiegl Radler is a refreshing blend of lager and grapefruit soda that tastes a little like Squirt. Because of its low 2.5 percent alcohol level, it’s perfect for day drinking.

“You didn’t go to the pool at Woodside (Health & Tennis Club) last summer and not see guys drinking Stiegl Radler,” David Smuckler says. “There’s no way it won’t be popular again this summer.”

At Tavern in the Village, Smuckler doctors Stiegl Radler with Uncle Val’s Botanical Gin to make a Grapefruit Floral Radler cocktail. The cucumber and lemon flavors amplify the sunny citrus in the radler, and the extra alcohol adds kick.

If you like Stiegl Radler …

You’re probably the type who’s always planning your next beach getaway or float trip.

On weekends when you can’t get away, you grab a bright spot on Grunauer’s patio, order up a radler and catch some rays. Because nothing goes better with that orange can than a nice tan.

Grapefruit Floral Radler costs $9.75 at Tavern in the Village and Tavern at Mission Farms. .

“I’m up for anything.”

Pradikat Swizzle

Anyone who frequents cocktail bars is used to the sight and sound of bartenders rigorously mixing drinks with ice in shakers.

But that’s not the only way to cool down a cocktail fast. At Tannin Wine Bar & Kitchen, bartender Arturo Vera-Felicie is putting a fresh spin on the classic Rum Swizzle.

The Caribbean cocktail is traditionally made by swirling a swizzle stick, a forked rod that agitates the mix of rum, water and ice until it’s incorporated and thoroughly chilled.

Vera-Felicie’s version, the Pradikat Swizzle, blends Cana Brava rum with Riesling wine, Thai basil, lime juice and spicy Thai ginger syrup the bartender makes by juicing the root. To make the drink, Vera-Felicie holds a swizzle stick between his palms and rubs them together like he’s trying to start a fire.

A red pour of Peychaud’s bitters floats atop the perfect patio drink, which Brock Schulte says is unlike anything else you’ll find in Kansas City.

If you like the Swizzle …

You’re far from the vodka-and-soda type. You’re open to avocado margaritas at Port Fonda, tobacco-smoked bourbon cocktails at Rye and toasting Manifesto’s fifth anniversary with tiny clay pots of mezcal.

In fact, you’re open to trying any spirit — gin, tequila, absinthe — as long as it’s served by a bartender you trust.

The Pradikat Swizzle costs $10 at Tannin Wine Bar & Kitchen.

“I’m serious about wine.”

Becker Estate Pinot Noir

When it comes to wine, those who prefer reds to whites are often seen as “more serious,” sommelier Hannah Frost says.

Frost says that Pinot Noirs in particular make a bold statement.

Pinot Noir grapes can be challenging to cultivate, and the resulting wine can be more “complex, earthy and interesting” than a fruitier red such as Malbec, Frost says.

Tannin Wine Bar & Kitchen recently added Becker Estate Pinot Noir, a German wine, to its menu. The grapes, explains general manager Barry Tunnel, were grown in limestone-rich soil on the Becker Family estate, which sits on the border between Germany and France.

The Pinot Noir tastes of stone and cherries, but it’s not cloyingly fruity.

If you like Pinot Noir …

You pride yourself on your sophisticated palate, know the proper way to hold a wine glass — by the stem, not the bowl or base — and wouldn’t be caught dead with White Zin in your hand.

You’re a member of the wine club at Osteria Il Centro, and even your favorite pizzeria, Minsky’s, has a Wine Spectator award.

A glass of Becker Estate Pinot Noir costs $10 at Tannin Wine Bar & Kitchen. A bottle costs $42.

“I’m living the high life.”

Sassy’s Champagne Cocktail

Pop out the bubbly, because sparkling wine isn’t reserved for special occasions anymore.

Bartenders are adding fizz and fun to cocktails with champagne, cava and prosecco. The cocktail menu Brock Schulte drafted for Providence New American Kitchen and the Drum Room Lounge features a pink sparkler called Sassy’s Champagne Cocktail.

The drink, named for legendary jazz singer Sarah “Sassy” Vaughan, is made with tart lime juice, a strawberry-raspberry shrub, vodka and prosecco. One sparkly sip will give you that New Year’s Eve feeling, even if it’s after work on Wednesday.

If you like Sassy’s Champagne Cocktail …

You live life to the fullest. You’re still toasting the opening of Ca Va, Kansas City’s first champagne bar, and your Sunday afternoon isn’t complete without mimosas at Westport Cafe & Bar.

Sassy’s Champagne Cocktail costs $9 at the Drum Room Lounge and Providence New American Kitchen.

“I’m a beer geek.”

Drie Fonteinen Zwet.Be

Sour beer might sound like a bad thing until you take a sip of La Folie, a sour brown ale brewed by New Belgium Brewing Co. in Fort Collins, Colo.

The lightly fizzy beer boasts bright sour apple flavors and earthy undertones. It was a “life changer” for Erica Pyles, who realized after her first sip of La Folie that she was destined for a career in beer.

Pyles devoted an entire cooler at Bridger’s Bottle Shop to sours. Aside from La Folie, which tapped out earlier this month, the cicerone adores Drie Fonteinen Zwet.Be, a Belgian porter that gets its sour cherry undertones from wild lambic yeast.

If you like sour beer …

You’re not scared off by bold brews. You’re into hop-heavy beers like Bell’s Hopslam Ale and super-strong Russian imperial stouts.

Your garage is filled with home-brewing gear, your kitchen cabinets are overflowing with specialty beer glasses collected from keep-the-glass nights at Bier Station, and you’re well on your way to earning a coveted spot in the Flying Saucer Draught Emporium’s Ring of Honor.

A bottle of Drie Fonteinen Zwet.Be costs $10.75 at Bridger’s Bottle Shop.

“I rep Kansas City.”

Boulevard Tank 7

Brewed in small batches by Kansas City’s Boulevard Brewing Co., this straw-colored farmhouse ale balances spicy flavor with a grapefruit hop aroma.

You can find Tank 7 in doughnuts at Westport Ale House or in a shandy cocktail at Providence New American Kitchen. The local brew is a favorite among chefs, bartenders and beer lovers with a soft spot for Boulevard.

If you like Tank 7 …

You’re a proud Kansas Citian who’s happy to pay a little more for artisan products made right here. Your go-to whiskey is Reunion Rye from Lenexa’s Darkhorse Distillery, and you’re a regular at Cinder Block Brewery’s taproom in North Kansas City.

You’re always stoked to see a cool collaboration between two local businesses, whether it’s Christopher Elbow and Boulevard coming together for Chocolate Ale or the Roasterie and Original Juan teaming up on coffee-infused barbecue sauce. Because to you, buying local isn’t a trend, it’s a lifestyle.

A glass of Tank 7 costs $6 at Bridger’s Bottle Shop.

The Bar Guide

Find more info about all of the bars mentioned in this story see our Spring/Summer Bar Guide.


* Find more info about all of the bars mentioned in this story see our Spring/Summer Bar Guide.*

On their first date, Brock Schulte didn’t give Erica Pyles a bouquet of flowers. He brought her a bottle of beer.

Schulte, a bartender, hoped the bottle of New Belgium La Folie would impress Pyles, who is one of a handful of female certified cicerones in Kansas City. And it did.

“I remember being like, ‘You are the man of my dreams,’” says Pyles, general manager at Bridger’s Bottle Shop.

What you drink on a first date could be just as important as what you say: A recent national survey by Wist, an app for food and drink recommendations, shows that men and women have surprisingly strong opinions about date-night drink orders.

In the survey, 35 percent of men said their dream date would order wine. Twenty-six percent said they like ladies who sip specialty cocktails such as margaritas and mojitos, and only 18 percent said they prefer beer drinkers.

Thirty percent of women, on the other hand, said they like guys who order beer. Even more ladies (33 percent of those surveyed) said they prefer men who order well drinks such as gin and tonics. Only 19 percent said they’re looking for a wine lover.

If there’s one thing men and women agree on, it’s that shots are a bad idea on a first date. Only 1 percent of men and 4 percent of women said taking shots and shooters is a classy move.

Find your favorite spot in our updated Bar Guide

If you’re thinking it’s a little shallow to judge your date by a drink order, you’re not alone. David Smuckler, bar manager at Tavern in the Village in Prairie Village, says that “if you’re judging somebody by what they drink right off the bat, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.”

That said, Smuckler and other bartenders we talked to agreed that what you drink makes a statement.

Whiskey, for example, is seen as a power drink. And not just for men.

“There’s this idea that girls don’t drink whiskey,” says Rachel Freeman, a bartender at the Chesterfield in downtown Kansas City. “But all the girls I know drink whiskey.”

Freeman says her knowledge about whiskey does intimidate some men, “but those aren’t the guys I want to keep around anyway.”

As far as wine goes, the type you drink can say a lot about you.

For example, those who guzzle super-sweet white wine are often viewed as less sophisticated than those who sip a complex, earthy Pinot Noir, sommelier Hannah Frost says.

“I have a lot of friends who just drink red wine because it’s ‘more serious,’” Frost says.

Then again, sparkling white wine is having a moment, especially since the uncorking of Ca Va, Kansas City’s first champagne bar.

“So many places have sparkling wine by the glass now,” Frost says. “It’s like a celebration in a glass, even if you just got off work.”

When it comes to cocktails, classic is best, says Anna Cole, who opens a low-key Kansas City, Kan., bar called Barcadia on 5th next week.

“The more simple the drink, the more sophisticated the drinker,” Cole says.

Sorry, Long Island iced tea lovers: That kitchen-sink mix of vodka, gin, tequila, rum and cola is almost universally frowned upon by bartenders.

“If a girl comes in and wants a Long Island iced tea,” Cole says, “I’m going to immediately ask for her ID.”

Classic cocktails such as the Old Fashioned are still considered cool. Barrel 31, a new whiskey bar on Martini Corner, serves an updated take made with cherry moonshine. It’s called the Old Fashioned Ass Kickin’.

Bar manager Jake Fankhauser says he appreciates customers who are willing to try new things, whether it’s a cocktail or craft beer. It’s sexy, he says, when a woman gets out of her vodka-cranberry comfort zone.

“It shows they’re willing to try new things,” he says.

But knowing exactly what you like and sticking to it is sexy, too.

Tiffany Walas, assistant general manager at Barrel 31, says gin and tonic is a gentleman’s drink, “but I like a guy to order a beer.”

Your go-to brew can say a lot about you, too. Freeman likes the hoppy flavor and pungent aroma of IPAs, but she says there’s a time and place for PBR.

After all, she says, “I’m not going to walk into Buzzard Beach and order a glass of champagne.”

Yard beer drinkers are seen as down-to-earth and budget-conscious. Smuckler has some more specific observations.

“If a girl orders Coors Light on draft, she’s a lake girl,” he says. “She can’t wait for summertime so she can go to the Lake of the Ozarks and drink Coors Light cans out of koozies.”

Or: “She’s probably got a pretty cool dad,” he says.

Smuckler and the other drink experts we spoke with agreed that no one should let a dating survey dictate what they order on a first date.

“At the end of the day,” Freeman says, “we’re all just trying to get a buzz, right?”

Meet the drink experts

Anna Cole is opening a bar called Barcadia on 5th in the Strawberry Hill neighborhood of Kansas City, Kan.

Jake Fankhauser is bar manager at Barrel 31 on Martini Corner.

Rachel Freeman is a bartender at the Chesterfield in downtown Kansas City.

Hannah Frost is a sommelier and on-premise sales representative for Glazer’s, a beverage alcohol distributor.

Erica Pyles is a certified cicerone and the general manager at Bridger’s Bottle Shop in Westport.

Brock Schulte is a bar consultant at Providence New American Kitchen and the Drum Lounge in downtown Kansas City. He’s also a bartender at three Crossroads Arts District restaurants: the Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange, Tannin Wine Bar & Kitchen and Grunauer.

David Smuckler is the bar manager at Tavern in the Village in Prairie Village and Tavern at Mission Farms in Leawood.

Tiffany Walas is assistant general manager at Barrel 31 on Martini Corner.


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