There’s no time to explain the laborious process behind the house hard seltzer at Nighthawk lounge below the Hotel Kansas City (1228 Baltimore Ave., KCMO) on a Saturday night. “Dude, we were soaking the almonds in a grappa earlier this week,” says bartender Johnny Lancaster. “I’ll tell you about it if I can get a little break.”
The breaks never come, as a big and thirsty crowd watches honky tonk quintet Lorna Kay’s One Night Stand play a cover of “Islands in the Stream.”
Craft breweries have attempted hard seltzers since the White Claw era began, with mixed results. The Night Claw, as the lineup at Nighthawk is called, is a little closer to a canned cocktail, using vodka as the base liquor and pumping in some bubbles. Unlike most canned cocktails, there’s an emphasis on light and breezy flavors and drinkability.
The whole idea behind the Night Claw lineup, says Nighthawk general manager Zach Shore, was that “from the guest’s perspective” it’s as simple as the bartender cracking a cold one and handing it over—the customers don’t need to know anything about the liqueur infusion process.
“We wanted to take what we know about craft cocktails and implement into it a canned cocktail,” Shore says. “We can take all of those elements and do all of the work behind the scenes.”
Flavors like cucumber mint have enough going on for anyone who wants to think about how peeled cucumbers are infused with Fernet Menta herbal liqueur, but they remain plenty poundable for those who just want to watch the show.