For much of last year, I played a little parlor game. After you’re fully vaccinated, I’d ask anyone I chatted with, where’s the first place you’re going to go?
My own answer to this question was always the same: I’m going to go to The Peanut, where I’m gonna sidle up to the bar for draft beers and cheese fries. In early April, when I finally had two doses plus two weeks, I did exactly that. I walked up to The Peanut on Main and grabbed a stool between two guys with strong opinions on politics, religion and, especially, taxes. In turn, I helpfully explained why this Royals team was definitely not going to contend despite the strong start to the season.
I’d missed this. So much. Of course I missed time with my family and close friends—but I also spent more time talking to my mom on the phone than I had before the pandemic. My group texts are popping. But I’d gone a year without talking to random people while seated at a bar, which is one of my favorite things.
I made up for lost time while reporting this year’s bar guide. I personally went to at least fifty spots, usually drinking half a Bud Light and asking a thousand questions. I learned more new things about this city and my neighbors in a month of bar hopping than I had over the previous year. If you spend a lot of time online, everything in our society seems fake or fractured and hopeless. Bars are some of the last places in our society where all the walls that divide us fall. When you sit on a stool next to someone and have a respectful conversation peppered with genuine curiosity about how they came to an opinion that differs from yours, the world is a much friendlier and more hopeful place.
Which is all to say I could not be more excited about this month’s issue, the first comprehensive guide to the city’s best bars that’s been published anywhere in almost a decade. We combed the city, revisiting favorite haunts and poking into new ones that were recommended by readers and friends, to settle on eighty-seven greats. It goes without saying that Kansas City is an amazing bar city—we famously took a pass on following the United States Constitution when it came to the whole Prohibition thing—but I’d never paused to appreciate just how amazing. Dives? There’s a bevy, but Chez Charlie is top ten in the country, easy. Well-crafted cocktails? KC can hang with any city in the country—New Orleans, New York and old Chicago not excepted. Neighborhood spots, brewpubs, sports bars? Yup, we’ve got great ones.
We had an amazing time compiling this month’s feature, and we hope you have just as much fun putting it to good use. Cheers!