The shakers are gleaming, the ice is, well, on ice, and the drinks are ready to be poured. The Paris of the Plains Cocktail Festival has arrived. The event — created by Manifesto’s Ryan Maybee, Doug Frost and Brandon Cummins — is a five-day celebration of cocktail culture in Kansas City that kicks off today and culminates with a bartending competition on the stage of the Uptown Theater Sunday night. We thought we’d go ahead and help you navigate your way through the seminars, cocktail competitions and gustatory affairs. Since we know you have to work, we picked you one thing each day you shouldn’t miss. [Note: You may have to invent some dentist appointments to attend everything.]
Tonight, Dale DeGroff — a former bartender at New York City’s Rainbow Room and the author of The Craft of The Cocktail — will hold court at The American Restaurant. “On The Town,” runs from 6 to 9 p.m. with DeGroff providing a history of the American cocktail alongside drinks and a menu created by chef Michael Corvino in homage to the Rainbow Room. Tickets are $55. Call 816-545-8001 to make a reservation.
Thursday: The Midwest Melee is from 6 to 8 p.m. at The Dark Horse Distillery (11740 West 86th Terrace, Lenexa, Kansas). Anybody who has been to a monster truck show before knows that there’s always a moment in the act when the hometown team of motorcyclists battles a rival town of drivers. The stakes are no less high at the third annual Midwest Melee. The Pendergast Trophy is up for grabs as teams of mixologists from St. Louis (the 2013 winner), Denver, Chicago, Indianapolis and Omaha/Lincoln do battle in this cocktail competition. They’ll be judged on speed, creativity and the ability to entertain the crowd (who gets to sample the drinks alongside the judges). Tickets are $10.
Friday: Sherry Seminar from 1:30 to 3:15 p.m. Maybe it’s time you updated your vision of sherry — it’s no longer something that you sneak a slug of while the pot roast is cooking in the oven. Steve Olson and Will Shine will lead a talk at The Guild (1621 Locust Street) on how sherry is made, delve into the flavor profiles and talk about how to form a cocktail around the fortified wine. Tickets are $20.
Saturday: Coffee Extraction & Cocktails is from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Sean Kenyon of William & Graham will talk about how different coffee extraction methods impart flavor in a cocktail. It’s a two-fer — a chance to learn more about coffee at The Roasterie’s Bean Hanger (1204 W 27th Street) and pick up some behind-the-bar tips from the Denver mixologist. Tickets are $20.
Sunday: The eighth annual Paris of the Plains Bartending Competition (it began as the Greater Kansas City Bartending Competition) is 6:30 to 10 p.m. at the Uptown Theater (3700 Broadway). You can taste the competitors’ cocktails (a list of the finalist and their recipes is here), grab bites to eat and watch Kansas City’s top mixologists duke it out on stage. Tickets are $20.
Tickets for all the events are available here.[Image via Facebook: PopFestKC]