A Modern Day Speakeasy

In the back alley of the address at 1924 Main, you will find a small call box aside what looks to be some kind of staff entrance. This entrance takes you to the underground modern day speakeasy known as Manifesto, a laid back cocktail lounge that takes its cocktails seriously. If you are lucky enough to have gotten in, (reservations are recommended) one push on that call box will have someone from the Manifesto staff at your beckon call.

Once inside you are guided downstairs and through a long dim lit hallway that takes you to this cocktail Mecca.

Owned by Ryan Maybee who is also founder of the Greater Kansas City Bartending Competition knows a thing or two about cocktails. He has created a cocktail menu that is truly one of a kind. Some drinks on the menu are just a twist on the classics; others are seasonal and use local and seasonal ingredients when available.

I have actually been a few times now and have not had a single drink that was nothing less than spectacular.

On our first visit, we actually entered through the Rieger Hotel Grill and Exchange, which is a restaurant, housed above Manifesto. Lucky for us there was seating available. (It is best to call and make a reservation 816-536-1325) As we were lead through the restaurant down the stairs and the dimly lit limestone walled hallway, I could feel the anticipation building as to what lied ahead. Once in we took a spot at the bar. I was thrilled to see Ms. Jenn Tosatto (a contestant of last year’s bartending competition) mixing up the cocktails. Having tried some of Jenn’s creations before I knew she could mix a mean drink. As we scanned the menu, the cranberry cobbler caught my attention. (Think cosmo, only not). This drink is a perfect example of how Manifesto takes a classic like the Cosmopolitan and then takes it to another level by adding lemon, orange, cinnamon, and fresh cranberries. The cinnamon really pops in this drink and is a great one to try.

I could have been happy drinking those all night, but my curiosity got the best of me with the Ward and Precinct. This drink is set on fire and consists of Bourbon, lemon, sugar, orange, homemade grenadine, and Angostura Bitters. The sugar and oranges are added to the glass and then it is set ablaze which caramelizes the ingredients and gives this drink just a bit of sweetness.

As we watched Jenn and the other amazing bartenders work, I was amazed at the intricacy these drinks have with most having their own specific house made ice cube. Cocktails that are considered sipping drinks like the Smoke and Choke my husband ordered, are adorned with a large block shaped cube. The cube is designed to melt slowly as not to water down the drink. The Smoke and Choke is another fabulous cocktail that has Applewood Smoked Bourbon, maple syrup, lemon, and oranges. Funny name for a drink but the smokiness really does come through and if you sip this drink like it is intended to be, there will be no choking involved.

Some other drinks we have tried at Manifesto have been the Shatto Blanc made with Vodka and Shatto Root Beer Milk. This drink is like a root beer float for adults and almost to pretty to drink.

Other drinks have included The Winter in Buenos Airies, which has cinnamon bark simple syrup, lemon and butternut squash puree. The Old Oazacan, (mostly Tequila with a tough of agave) and The Stay Wet (Vodka, lime, lemon and egg white.) The handcrafted cocktails at Manifesto are intricate and intriguing. Some are shaken, while others are stirred but one thing they have in common is they are all unique and delicious.

Along with the cocktails, Manifesto offers a few small plates. We ordered the breads and spreads. The bread is from the local Fervere Bakery and is served with a variety of house made spreads including a basil butter, goat cheese beet, olive tapenade, and apple butter.

Located above Manifesto is The Rieger Hotel Grill and Exchange. There you will find a modern take on classic American and European fare. I have yet to dine at the Rieger but will be soon. Chef Howard Hanna who has made a name for himself at Room 39, the River Club and now The Rieger will be hosting a four-course dinner.

This dinner is put on in part with the Slow Food chapter of Kansas City, a non-profit organization that focuses local and seasonal foods. This dinner is open to the public to attend. There is a discounted rate for members of Slow Food Kansas City. Menu, details, and ticket information is below. I suggest making reservations at Manifesto beforehand so you can enjoy one of their fabulous cocktails. Call 816-536-1325 for reservations.

Chef Howard Hanna’s four course dinner menu featuring local products.

Insalata – local greens (Crum’s Heirlooms), Lily Cheese (Shatto), sherry vinaigrette

Pasta – Tagliatelle al Coniglio (Rare Hare Barns rabbit)

Porchetta – (heritage breed pork from Paradise Locker Meats), presented whole, carved tableside with family style sides – local polenta and braised tuscan kale

Sformato – candied Missouri Northern Pecans (local pecans, cream from Shatto, eggs from Campo Lindo)

The Rieger Hotel Grill and Exchange

1924 Main
Kansas City, MO 64108

Wednesday, March 16, 2011, 6:30 PM Reception / 7 PM Dinner

Members: $35, Non-members $45. Price includes punch at the reception, and a four-course meal. Tax, gratuity, alcohol are not included. Suggested wine/drink pairings will available by the glass.

Reserve your spot at www.brownpapertickets.com by March 14th.
To find out how to become a member, visit www.slowfoodkc.org

Questions? Contact Slowfoodkansascity@gmail.com

If you have a great food find in KC you think I am missing, email me.

In Good Taste,
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