Speakeasy: “An illicit liquor store or nightclub.”
The prohibition-like speakeasy has made its resurgence over the last several years, popping up all over urban areas across the country. Of course Kansas City joined this movement with gusto, opening up several in the downtown area. One that has received attention is Manifesto, connected somewhat to the old Reiger building.
The Reiger was in its original form a hotel and according to their website was located on “The Wettest Block in town” before prohibition. Now it's a prime time spot for happy hours, dinner and drinks for anyone of age within the metro area.
Feeling like we should do a little recon on the subject of the speakeasy, Manifesto became a target. Securing a reservation was the first order of business, and it is done only by text message. You initiate contact then receive confirmation that they have space available. Only then do you send your name and party information over.
Choosing a Friday nighttime slot and enlisting some friends to join me it was time to see what this place had to offer. Walking down the narrow alley way, stepping up onto the back “porch” before sliding into the back entrance, there were no signs guiding us. Thank goodness I was with professionals, the sort of late night drinkers who can sniff out a backdoor bar without hesitation.
The reservation desk, slightly hidden from plain site, greeted our party. Before we could share our name, they knew why we had found them. Turning slightly towards a narrow flight of stairs the only identifying sign for Manifesto hung above our heads, reading “Mind Your Head” and “Cocktails Liberated”.
Carefully walking down the narrow staircase towards what seemed to be an old cellar the mood slowly surrounded us. No lighting with the exception of candles, no phone usage, and plenty to drink.
Our table situated in the back part of the room allowed for perfect surveillance of the crowd. All ages of patrons sat around us, enjoying drinks of a unique kind. Having a mild palate myself, the first thing we all noticed was the drink menu. If you have a simple taste in libations, this is not the place for you. Period. There is no order taken that deviates from the menu. And that is not negotiable.
Choosing a simple concoction of rum, vodka, grapefruit juice and pepper I had my doubts. Shortly that concern was lifted. After another round it was time for a restroom break.
Carefully we maneuvered the narrow stairs once more to the main floor. Sharing the facilities with the Reiger the bathrooms had to be good. Being a fan of the prohibition era I was hopeful, the old porcelain stools stood out, white as could be with the brass accents. The tile with black accents also a perfect classic match. One stall slanted, covering the corner space in order to make room for each guest during their private moments. Just as expected it was unique and quite lovely. The feeling of history prevailed, in every detail. The simple mirrors, faucets, and wall hangings all reminded us of the buildings age.
The real surprise, however, came from the Men’s room. In a building with so much history we should have not been surprised. Just being present within the space allows the nostalgia to flow. Seeing our friend exit the men’s room with a smile it was obvious.
“Al Capone Peed Here.” He chuckled. “Who knew?” Showing us the picture he took as evidence we too enjoyed the moment.
At the end we all agreed on that the experience was one for the record books. It’s not everyday you get to relieve yourself where Al Capone hung