Stella and I tried to go to Manifesto about a month and a half ago on a weekend night and never made it in. I mentioned that fact and the fact that we never actually got a call back in a post shortly after. It was no big deal, I just thought that our dear readers would like to know some of the complications of going to Manifesto. What regular readers don’t know is that Ryan Maybee, proprietor of Manifesto, wrote to me to apologize for the incident (which wasn’t needed) and invited Stella and I over for a drink on his dime.

Last night we took him up on his offer. About 10 P.M. our movie “Funny People” ended at the AMC Mainstreet and we decided to end the evening with a cocktail at Manifesto. I gave them a call to make sure we could be seated (they only have room for 40) and whoever I talked to assured me we could get in, which should be expected on a Tuesday evening.

As we walked up to the “secret” backdoor at 1924 Main another couple was walking out so we didn’t have to go through the rigmarole of buzzing the buzzer and getting led down. But since we weren’t going through the rigmarole Stella commented as we walked down the narrow hallway, “this is like a movie where we stumble upon a group of wiseguys hatching a Brinks truck robbery plan”. Luckily when we walked through the curtain into the bar area I saw a guy sitting at the bar wearing a Chiefs hat. No self respecting mobster would sit at Manifesto wearing a Chiefs cap.

One of the waiters told us we can sit where we want so we made our way over to one of the half moon booths. Not that this happened or anything, but I’m willing to bet that the half moon booth at Manifesto on a Tuesday night might be the safest public place in KC to unzip your fly and let it all hang out (one of the curtain booths at the Melting Pot comes in second).
Our waiter came over and introduced himself and asked our names and he even shook my hand. I like that, I see a waiter/waitress as a partner in my drinking/eating experience not as a servant and the shaking hands thing kind of cements that relationship. You may feel differently, that’s fine. But this made it all the harder to tell the waiter that I was Bull E. Vard from the KC Beer Blog and I needed to see Ryan. Amazingly, the waiter took it well and didn’t laugh in my face. I don’t think I’m ever going to do that again, a free drink just doesn’t seem worth the embarrassment.

Ryan came by the table and we chatted for a couple of minutes about the blog, the origins of the Bull E. Vard name (maybe I’ll turn Bull E. Vard into a Dread Pirate Roberts thing) and various other things. Ryan then explained a couple of drinks to Stella because most of the ingredients in the drinks are hard to recognize. When you go in to Manifesto, have a cocktail starting point in mind. What’s your favorite cocktail? Most of the cocktails at Manifesto are based on classic cocktails from the 1850’s through the early 1900’s. Stella’s starting point (and mine as well) is the French martini. From there your waiter will explain a couple of options that you might enjoy. Since Ryan was doing the recommending, the explanations were flawless.

Stella got the French martini knockoff, Napoleonita. I was a pain and had Ryan create something special for me based on the Ward and Precinct (a Ward 8 knockoff). Getting a drink at Manifesto is much like ordering a meal at a restaurant, it’s going to take them a while to make it. If you go in knowing that, the happier you’ll be. It took about 5 minutes to get our drinks.

I wish that I could put the same smile on Stella’s face as the Napoleonita did. It was like a French martini only more so. Since the Napoleonita didn’t use Chambord which Ryan said was a one note liquer and did use Trennel Cassis a more full flavor liquer the Napoleonita delivered a more full flavor.

We also got a Wildfire Cobbler which is a fruity vodka based drink with some chili pepper puree. It looked a little like a bloody mary and had just the right amount of spice. I’d never had any chili pepper puree in any drink I’ve had before. That was clearly an oversight on my part.

As we had our drinks we enjoyed the salsa and standards music selection in the nearly completely dark room. Manifesto certainly has a unique look and feel to its bar area. I can’t think of anyplace in KC anything like it. As mentioned before it was quite private where we were sitting even though there were about 10 other patrons in the bar. Plus it definitely had an adult vibe, not the kind of place younger people go to try to slam as much alcohol into their system as they possibly can in the shortest amount of time possible. Those people have the Power and Light district. Manifesto is for people who want to enjoy a well crafted drink and pay attention to their companion. The drinks were sufficiently strong to ensure that some extra attention is paid to your companion once you get home or a dark street with some parking.

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