2014 KC Magazine City’s Best Awards: Nightlife

Best Bar: Harry’s Bar and Tables

Classics never go out of style, as your pick proves. This Westport watering hole is the very definition of a classic, with rich wood paneling and tiled floors creating a cozy, traditional ambiance where friends gather over good old G&Ts, martinis and Manhattans.

2nd Place: Bier Station  |  3rd Place: Extra Virgin

Best Upscale Bar: Julep

The Southern-inspired whiskey bar only opened in April but clearly has already made a big impression in Kansas City’s bar scene. Julep is owned by husband and wife duo Beau Williams, well known for his time bartending at Manifesto, and Keely Edgington, who formed their own cocktail catering company Hawthorne and Julep before opening the bar.

In addition to outstanding hand-crafted cocktails, the Westport hot spot offers a range of Southern-style small plates and sandwiches (Rye’s chef de cuisine, John Brogan, consulted on the menu). Even so, the atmosphere is designed to feel more like a bar than a restaurant—somewhere you can “let your hair down and shake it out,” Edgington says.

2nd Place: Manifesto  |  3rd Place: Ça Va

Best Bartender: Alberto Santoro, Extra Virgin and Michael Smith

It takes a helluva bartender to make a name for himself working at a place fronted by an already very recognizable name, but Santoro is a helluva bartender. His skills and creativity behind the stick make the cocktails at these neighboring Crossroads restaurants as much of a highlight as chef-owner Michael Smith’s cuisine.

2nd Place: Beau Williams, Julep  |  3rd Place: Van Zarr, Bluestem

Best Dive Bar: The Peanut

Don’t expect fancy cocktails and candlelit tables at this KC classic, which has a history that dates back even to before the end of Prohibition in 1933. Do expect a lively environment, ice-cold beers and the biggest and best chicken wings outside of Buffalo, NY.

The locally owned chain has five locations around the metro, but for the true Peanut experience you must visit the original south Plaza location, which claims to be Kansas City’s oldest bar.

2nd Place: The Brick  |  3rd Place: Hi-Dive Lounge

Best Nightclub: Green Lady Lounge

If it’s jazz you’re after, this Crossroads venue is a must. Subtle lighting, vintage décor, classic cocktails, plus no cover charge make the Green Lady the ideal place to hear some of the genre’s most talented musicians.

2nd Place: Mosaic  |  3rd Place: Kill Devil Club

Best Entertainment District: Power & Light District

With more than 50 diverse businesses calling it home, you could spend full days in the P&L’s eight blocks without ever needing to leave its borders.

Wake up with a workout at the brand-new One Life Fitness club, a cup of joe at Kaldi’s Coffee, or a giant cinnamon roll at MeMa’s Bakery. Treat yourself to some retail therapy at the KC Garment Collective or with a pampering treatment at Polished Nail Salon or at Zafar Salon and Spa. Choose a healthy lunch at The Mixx or Drunken Fish or indulge yourself at Tengo Sed Cantina or BRGR before an afternoon’s entertainment catching a flick at the Alamo Drafthouse or knocking down pins at Z-Strike Bowling. Come evening, dine at one of the district’s upscale restaurants, including Bristol Seafood Grill or 801 Chophouse, before catching some live music at The Kill Devil Club, the Midland Theatre or under the stars on the KC Live! stage.

2nd Place: Westport  |  3rd Place: Crossroads

Best Corporate Venue: Boulevard Brewing Company.

Corporate events can sometimes be a bit dry, but that’s never the case for shindigs hosted at Kansas City’s favorite craft beer brewery. Whether it’s a mid-size mixer in the Brewhouse Bar or a larger function in the Muehlebach Suite, good times and great beers are always on tap.

2nd Place: Dark Horse Distillery  |  3rd Place: Overland Park Convention Center

Best Happy Hour: Cafe Trio

How can you top a menu that features great drink specials and fantastic (and fantastically priced) dishes, such as $5 steak burgers and $7 Tuscan shrimp pizzas? Offer it longer. This Midtown restaurant’s happy hour runs from 2-6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and all day on Monday. We’ll drink to that.

2nd Place: District Pour House + Kitchen  |  3rd Place: Extra Virgin

Best Martini: District Pour House + Kitchen

The year-old Waldo bar and restaurant puts its own unique twist on the classic cocktail by using gins and vodkas infused in-house with a range of fresh, seasonal ingredients, including fruits, berries, herbs and spices.

2nd Place: Capital Grille  |  3rd Place: Café Trio

Best Bloody Mary: Port Fonda

Strictly speaking, the category winner doesn’t even have a Bloody Mary on its menu. Instead, the inventive Mexican restaurant lets brunch guests mix their own eye-openers at its “Bloody Maria” bar. Instead of vodka, choose a tequila or mescal (or go half and half), top with one of the house-made mixes, pick a salt for the rim (chicarrón salt, perhaps?), and garnish with anything from a crispy bacon stirrer to a pickled egg.

2nd Place: District Pour House + Kitchen  |  3rd Place: RecordBar

Best Microbrew: Cinder Block

In just the past year, Kansas City’s craft beer scene has grown dramatically with the launch of several local breweries that focus on quality rather than quantity. This North Kansas City venue, owned by Northland native Bryce Schaffter, is leading the pack with beer nerds and newbies alike flocking to its taproom to try its pale ales, porters, wit biers and seasonal brews.

2nd Place: McCoy’s  |  3rd Place: Martin City Brewing Company

Best Local Festival: Paris of the Plains Cocktail Festival

The annual multiday event brings the region’s best bartenders to Kansas City to network, learn the tricks of the trade and, of course, shake, stir, mix and muddle delicious drinks for patrons of culminating event of “PopFest,” a cocktail competition at the Uptown Theater.

2nd Place: Boulevardia  |  3rd Place: Plaza Art Fair

Best Hotel: Hotel Phillips

This boutique gem has been welcoming out-of-town guests to downtown Kansas City since 1929, but also has a lot to offer locals, thanks to its 12 Baltimore restaurant and free Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening concerts, where visitors can sip cocktails while listing to performances by acoustic, jazz and featured local musicians.

2nd Place: The Raphael  |  3rd Place: Hotel Sorella

Best Not-So-Lazy-Sunday Excursion: Weston, Mo.

From hiking at Weston Bend State Park to skiing at Snow Creek, tasting wine at Pirtle Winery to sampling cheese at Green Dirt Farm, and touring the Weston Historical Museum to trawling the shops on Main Street, there’s no shortage of things to do in this charming community just 30 minutes north of downtown Kansas City.

2nd Place: Powell Gardens  |  3rd Place: Shawnee Mission Park

Best Fundraiser: Jazzoo

Sampling food and drinks from KC’s top restaurants, dancing to live music under the stars and strolling around amidst exotic animals at the Kansas City Zoo? Sounds like a wild night to us!

2nd Place: Bacchus Ball  |  3rd Place: Bloom

Best Wedding Venue: The Guild

Glossy white subway tiles, dark wood paneling and a sparkling crystal chandelier of epic proportions work together to create an event space that is at once modern and traditional. In other words, this chic Crossroads venue provides a perfect backdrop in which to celebrate the Big Day.

2nd Place: Loose Park  |  3rd Place: Dark Horse Distillery

 See more of the award winners from our 2014 City’s Best