At a hotel bar, you can be whoever you want to be, even for just an afternoon. Wander in wearing pajama pants or a ball gown. Flirt with a stranger away at a conference. More intoxicating than the booze is your guaranteed anonymity.
Today’s hotel bars have evolved beyond wood-paneled dens of red meat and dirty martinis—which makes them even better for my purposes. The Crossroads Hotel (2101 Central St., KCMO) has two spots: The all-day XR Cafe, with a large wrap-around bar and plenty of cozy seats, and the popular Percheronrooftop bar, offering sweeping views of the cityscape. At The Savoy at 21c (219 W. Ninth St., KCMO), you can sit in the same booth Harry Truman favored—though much has changed since it opened in 1903. Cocktails are eclectic (there’s something called a Bryophyta, with matcha, Jamaican rum and clarified milk), perfectly matching the vibe of the contemporary art gallery adjacent to the lobby.
The Lobby Bar at Hotel Kansas City (1228 Baltimore Ave., KCMO) is so pretty it doesn’t even need alcohol, but it does feel terrifically decadent to sprawl across one of those sloping salmon-pink velvet settees as you delicately grasp your stemware. Also downtown: A former mail sorting room has been converted into the moody P.S. Speakeasy, which you will enter through a hidden door behind the reception desk at Hotel Phillips (106 W. 12th St., KCMO).
The best part of Parker at The Fontaine (901 W. 48th Place, KCMO) is the adjacent rooftop pool that overlooks the Plaza. Although the water is reserved for hotel guests, you’re welcome to take your Aperol spritz outside and collapse onto a deck chair. And if you want a taste of the old-style hotel bar, head to the lounge at the Intercontinental (401 Ward Parkway, KCMO). There you’ll find stately dark oak walls, comfortable couches and a grand piano open to passing talent. Curl up with a Manhattan and make a friend. Or don’t. No one’s judging.