When The Monarch Bar opened in 2017, it offered the Kansas City jet-set crowd a new upscale drinking experience, one where fanciful $18 cocktails meant a special occasion. Now, the people behind the Monarch and its Leawood sister bar, Verdigris, are trying to outdo themselves again. The Mercury Room, an eight-hundred-square-foot mirror ball topping off a fourteen-story apartment complex in the Crossroads, is open and ready to welcome guests. (Not just anyone, though: The strict dress code requires jackets for men and prohibits hats. Show up looking sloppy and you might be turned away, reservation or not.)
The space is designed to take your breath away, and it succeeds. Thousands of LED lights are meticulously arranged on the mirrored ceiling (Starry Night can’t compete), and the sweeping views of downtown will make you feel like you are miles above the city. It’s romantic— and with just twenty-eight seats and a $30 starting price for a cocktail, it can be prohibitively exclusive.
Thirty bucks would be a steep price if all you were getting out of the deal was a mixed drink, but Mercury Room builds in tax, tip and an amuse-bouche in the form of a non-alcoholic “elixir,” which is served in dainty antique silver glasses. Then comes your main course, one of Mercury Room’s dozen specialty cocktails. Each of these boasts an outlandish list of ingredients—rose quartz mint, a carbonic-macerated concord grape— that your server will happily explain.
As fussy and experimental as these drinks may sound, their presentation is straightforward. There are no smoking spheres or beakers or flavors delivered as flashes of light. The bonbori, named for a traditional Japanese paper lantern, is a cloudy, stone-washed liquid served in a coupe glass and garnished with a pickled oyster. On a list of adventurous cocktails, it may well be the wildest. To build it, the bartender combines—among a host of other things—Japanese gin treated with butter, yuzu juice (from a tart Japanese citrus fruit) and seaweed-infused sherry. It tastes, not unpleasantly, like taking a dip in a sun-warmed ocean.
GO: The Mercury Room is open 4-10 pm Tuesday-Saturday. 1800 Walnut St., 14th Floor, KCMO