Thursday, October 23, 2014

Lavender-Honey Latte

Drink: Lavender-Honey Latte
Type: Espresso
From: Second Best Coffee
Price: $3
Description: Perfect

Don't let the name of this coffee shop fool you, it's certainly one of the best in Kansas City. Second Best Coffee in Waldo focuses on simplistic quality in its beverages. With a focus on espresso, they own the only Slayer (a high-end, custom, professional espresso machine) in KC.

The drink: frothy, bold, smooth, full-flavored.

The absolute best part of this latte is the perfect foam and the subtly of the house-made syrup. Second Best Coffee prides itself on the quality and flavor of their coffee and espresso and have created their syrups to compliment those flavors, rather than cover them. The result is a phenomenal latte.

Iced Ginger Lemon Sencha Tea

Drink: Iced Ginger Lemon Sencha Tea
Type: Tea
From: Kaldi's
Price: $2
Description: Hydrating

It's difficult (in my opinion) to find a good iced tea. The defining characteristic of a good tea is that its bitterness doesn't overwhelm its natural flavor. This green tea from Kaldi's is a great example of a good tea.

The drink: super refreshing, lemony, light, flavorful.

The great lemon flavor is complimented by the subtle ginger, both flavors which are leveled out by the natural acidity of green sencha tea. The overwhelming sense of hydration came through with this drink, which would be my go-to if I were incredibly thirsty or feeling dry.

The Man From Another Place

Drink: The Man From Another Place
Type: Cocktail
From: The Westside Local
Price: $10

The Westside Local is a small restaurant; a really casual and fun place to get phenomenal food and great craft cocktails. This particular cocktail is made with Jack Rudy small-batch Grenadine, a flavoring that isn't syrupy or fake-tasting which adds wonderful flavor depth without taking away from the other flavors.

The drink: sweet, subtly citrusy, light, spicy.

The spiciness comes from the scotch, which is complimented well by the juice, soda, and grenadine. All in all, a very well mixed cocktail with great balance and flavor.

Thursday, October 16, 2014


Drink: Cashewtini
Type: Alcoholic
From: The Cashew
Price: $11
Description: Girly

For a girl's afternoon out, a little bubbly is in order. This cocktail, made with champagne, St. Germain Elderflower Liquor, and garnished with a Hibiscus flower, is exactly that.

The drink: floral, fruity, sweet, bubbly.

The Cashew uses a nice, dry champagne which mellows out the sweetness from the Elderflower liquor. It's wonderful for sipping and the bubbly just makes it fun.

French 75

Drink: French 75
Type: Alcoholic
From: Aixois Bistro
Price: $9
Description: Refreshing

Located at 55th and Brookside, Aixois is a lovely French bistro and coffee shop with a beautiful patio and delicious options.

The drink: tart, sweet, light, herbal.

This cocktail is well-mixed with fresh flavor that compliments the gin with the perfect amount of carbonation. Be sure to pair it with the Happy Hour specials Monday - Saturdays 4-6pm.

Raspberry Rose Slushie

Drink: Raspberry Rose Slushie
Type: Soda
From: Little Freshie
Price: $3.25
Description: Vintage

With all of Little Freshie's weekly syrups, it's hard to decide between a soda, a snowcone, or a slushie. Having tried a soda and snowcone, this slushie was wonderful. With ice of great consistency, it absorbs the subtly sweet syrup well.

The drink: floral, icy, light, and bubbly.

The rose flavor in this is really nice and not at all overwhelmed by the raspberry flavoring. The slight effervescence adds to the refreshing nature of this treat. It also has a lovely throwback, vintage feeling from the rose flavor.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Harry's Reviver

Drink: Harry's Reviver
Type: Alcoholic
From: Harry's Bar & Tables
Price: $9
Description: Herbal

As one of the more popular location for industry employees to hang out, I've found myself at Harry's in Westport more and more frequently. With one of the best patios in Kansas City, it's the perfect time of year to grab an appetizer and sip cocktails on Sunday afternoons. This cocktail is made with Citadelle gin, St. Germain, Lillet Blanc, lemon juice, and topped with Green Chartreuse.

The drink: light, citrusy, cool.

This perfectly balanced cocktail has phenomenal Chartreuse flavor that pairs well with the gin and lemon flavors, making for a delicious drink. If you are looking for a drink flavored with Green Chartreuse without the strong bite and overpowering flavor it can sometimes come with, then this is the perfect cocktail.

Falling Leaves

Drink: Falling Leaves
Type: Alcoholic
From: '37 Steak
Description: Autumnal

One thing I really appreciate about Mike Strohm from '37 Steak at Harrah's in North Kansas City is his love for new and strong flavors. His new fall menu is inclusive of these, including this perfectly spicy and smokey whiskey-based cocktail.

The drink: spicy, strong, smokey, crisp.

Mike starts with scorching a board and letting the wood smoke fill the glass while preparing the cocktail with Dark Horse Reunion Rye. The addition of floating house-made cardamom liquor on top is quite nice. The complex flavor, spiciness, and smokiness compliments the rye flavor really, really well. The name is obvious, as this cocktail has both the color and crispness of autumn leaves.

Fall Tea

Autumn is the perfect time to up your loose-leaf tea game. Anna Marie's Teas in Liberty debuted their fall tea collection last weekend by hosting a sampling. Some of the most popular teas were served with perfectly moist scones; it was a great opportunity to try some wonderful teas. 

Brief descriptions and evaluations are located below the photos of the teas I sampled. Head to The Terrace Avenue Inn to pick up your own fall teas! 

Great chocolate and fruity aroma.
Smooth, indulgent, subtle;
perfect as a dessert tea. 

Fruity, peachy, very very light.
Would be wonderful hot and cold. 

Very aromatic, floral, calming.
The lavender is lovely and not at all

Smooth, syrupy, lightly spicy.
Perfect for fall; has the heartiness of bread. 

Very bread-like, heavy on the tongue;
spicy and warming. 

Strong cinnamon aroma, naturally sweet;
orange and cinnamon are perfect for warm nights;
just enough cinnamon to be a bit spicy. 

With the addition of sweetened condensed milk,
this tea is thick, creamy, like a Pumpkin Spice Latte
in tea-form. 


Drink: Cappuccino
Type: Espresso
From: Kaldi's
Price: $3

Kaldi's (also known here in Kansas City as Latte Land) just came out with their fall specials, but it's hard to ignore such a great classic.

The drink: creamy, smooth, thick, flavorful.

This cappuccino had lovely, sweet foam and great espresso flavor with just the right amount of acidity and robustness. Kaldi's baristas are well-trained and educated, and do a wonderful job at creating memorable coffee and espresso drinks.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Rue de Main

Drink: Rue de Main
Type: Alcoholic
From: The Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange
Price: $9
Description: Bitter

With Rose de Provence, Aperol, and Dolin Rouge, this cocktail is light and a little bit sour, but full of flavor. If you're not a fan of Aperol or Campari, this cocktail probably isn't for you, because the flavor plays a strong part in this drink.

The drink: sharp, bitter, smooth, clear.

The Rieger, located at 1924 Main, hosts a wide arrange of unique and delicious cocktails, along with a patio perfectly lovely for fall evenings. If you're looking for something different with a bit of bite to it, this cocktail is perfect for sipping.

Raspberry Lemonade

Drink: Raspberry Lemonade
Type: Alcoholic
From: The Cashew
Price: $6
Description: Sweet

When I asked what the most popular cocktail was at The Cashew at Grand and 20th, the bartender didn't hesitate to tell me about this cocktail. Made with house-infused raspberry vodka and fresh lemonade, this cocktail is well balanced between the tartness of the lemon and sweetness of the raspberry.

The drink: light, refreshing, not syrupy or overly sweet.

The raspberry flavor is really great; not overwhelming or fake tasting. Be sure to check out the beautiful bar for a daily Happy Hour from 3-7, or perhaps hang out on their street-side patio.

Latte 2

Drink: Latte
Type: Espresso
From: Little Freshie
Price: $3.25
Description: Frothy

It's hard to go into Little Freshie and not order multiple sodas and slushies, but when a place puts "espresso" in their name, you just have to try it, and I'm really glad I did. On the cloudy and cool afternoon, this little pick-me-up was the perfect mix of warm and frothy. 

The drink: strong, sharp, bold espresso flavor. 

The espresso was well-pulled, but it was the foam that made this drink so great. It was wonderfully thick and lasted the entire beverage, always smooth and delicious. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Local Blogs

There's something special about Kansas City. Perhaps it's our central location in the country, the easy port access that made it historically pertinent, or just the fact that we're the perfect mix of urban and rural. Regardless, the Kansas City food and beverage industry is exploding. Phenomenal new restaurants, bars, and shops are popping up faster than any of us can keep track (you should see my list - every time I cross off one location, I seem to add two or three more).

It's evident from the success of local events like the Paris of the Plains Cocktail Festival and the Caffeine Crawl that KC is becoming more important and influential on national food culture.

So how does one person keep track of it all? One of the easiest ways is to follow local bloggers. These people are passionate about food, beverage, and all things Kansas City. With each blog's individual speciality and focus, it allows the reader to grasp and locate exactly what he or she is looking for.

Here are a few of my favorite local food blogs:

Around the Block

Located at

Written by Mary Bloch, the author of the Kansas City Star's Restaurant Guide as well as regular contributor to the Star's Food section and member of the Association of Food Journalists. This blog features restaurant profiles, travel recommendations, cooking tips, and food trend discussions.

Chow Town

Located at

This blog, run through The Kansas City Star, has over a dozen contributors ranging from local foodies to chefs and experts in the field. With daily posts about the entirety of the Kansas City food scene and easy-to-read posts, this is a great location to find out what people are loving the most in Kansas City.

Eat It Kansas City

Located at

Written by Kansas newcomer, Shanley, this locally-focused blogger has been featured in Ink Magazine, Kansas City Home & Garden, Better Kansas City, and National Geographic with her blurbs about restaurant openings, local food events, and abundant recipes.

The Feed

Located at

Run by culinary creative and marking agents Jeff Akin and Emily Farris, this blog features recipes dining diaries in the form of posts and podcasts. Regular contributors to Food and Wine, they started Feed Me Creative - a food based marketing firm (branding, marketing, design, and content development) where their blog is now located.

KC Beer Blog

Located at

Full of calendar events, beer travel guides, homebrewing resources and every beer-related event in Kansas City, this blog is a can't-miss for beer lovers. Run by Pat, Kyle, David, and Jay this blog is completely full of information and events. These guys have done their research and do a great job of keeping up-to-date with local events.

KC Morsel

Located at

Elegantly designed and run by Laura Clark, talented barista and educator at Kaldi's Coffee, this blog covers more than just coffee, beer, and cocktails. Laura does a great job including food, restaurants, and events around the metro area. Be sure to follow her on social media, as she has a great online presence.

The Making of a Foodie

Located at

With a focus on becoming a better "foodie", Jenny Vergara is all about learning and teaching others about the best sides of food and drink, and how to better enjoy them and refine the palate. Her in-depth posts are full of detail and information and explanations that are accompanied by lovely photographs from around the Kansas City area.

Shang Tea Blog

Located at

Considered the "educational arm" of the Shang Tea company, this blog is a wonderful addition to any tea-lovers resources. With posts about growing, harvesting, brewing, and enjoying tea, the reader gets an abundant amount of information ranging from tea history to current tea events. Straightforward and well-written, this is my favorite place to gain a little tea knowledge.

Team Cocktail! 

Located at

If you're looking for cocktail recipes from local drinkers and travelers, this blog is for you. With the idea of "travel globally, drink locally," this local blog has a much larger stake in international drinking and traveling, which is a great thing for Kansas City. Search their blog for recipes, merchandise, and local events.

Other resources to find the best of Kansas City are Yelp, Urbanspoon, The Kansas City Star, The Pitch, and Visit KC. What are some of your favorite locals to follow for the best of food and drinks in KC? Leave your answers in the comments!

Booze School - Champagne

C is for Champagne! 

All year long, Yelp KC (with the help of The LAB) has been hosting Booze School around Kansas City, each class focusing on a different type of liquor. The purpose is to provide a base level of information in a setting where people can feel safe to ask questions and learn about different liquors, wine, and beer.  

 The champagne class at Ca Va in Westport was so popular that it sold out in minutes. Luckily, Yelp opened a second class, held on September 7. Justin Norcross, who co-owns the champagne bar with chef Howard Hanna, ran the class beginning with an explanation of the three grades of champagne (or rather, sparkling wines): Pinot Noir, Pinot Meuniere, and Chardonnay.

Glass: #1
Located: New Mexico
Traits: light salmon color, toasty brioche note, apricot, citrus, fruit, and becomes bolder as it warms. 

Unlike with wine, smelling doesn't play into the flavor of champagne. Champagne should be opened while cold (47* - 52*F) and tasted, and then should be tasted as it warms in order to enjoy all the flavors. 

The secret to opening a champagne bottle is that it should sound like a French woman passing gas, the underlying joke being that no one has ever heard a French woman pass gas, and if you do hear the bottle pop, you turn the other cheek. 

If a bottle of champagne gets away from you and starts bubbling over, tilt the bottle to a 45* angle to create an air pocket. This will cause the liquid to run down the bottle and not all over guests. 

Glass #2 - Spanish Cava
From: Avinyo
Located: Spain 
History: The family that made this champagne started out making cheap, poor-quality product with terrible grapes just to make a dollar while they saved the best wines and grapes for themselves. Eventually, someone pointed out that they had the ability to make a great sparkling wine and convinced them to start selling a real product. 

Justin and his staff are knowledgeable and passionate about sparkling wines and champagnes. Ca Va has a casual and laid-back vibe that makes the drinker feel comfortable and yet upscale at the same time. With a wide variety of bubbly and a French - inspired menu, its a small but genuine gem. 

While Chef Howard Hanna was working as a line cook in Paris, it was common for his bosses to ask "Ca va?" - an informal question equivalent to "How's it going?" The appropriate response being "Ca va." or, "It goes."  With Hanna's continued success here in Kansas City (owner and chef at The Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange, along with co-owning, having a hand in, and influencing many Kansas City area restaurants), Justin explained that "it goes" - or rather, things are going well, which influenced the name of this gorgeous champagne bar.

Glass: #3 - Sparkling Rose
Located: California
Traits: Very salmon in color (as opposed to a bright pink), fruit-foward, peachy, strawberry, and cranberry notes. Typically when champagne is made, the skin of the grape is peeled off, but if you leave the grape leaves on the vine, it develops the rose color. 

Glass: #4 - Cremant de Limoux
From: Domaine Collin
Located: Southern France
Traits: Worked with Louis Roederer for a long time. In Le Mieu the temperature doesn't get as hot, so the grapes that grow there are tight, crisp, citrusy, and dry, making an ideal sparkling wine for hot weather. 

Glass: #5 - Champagne
From: Champagne, France
Traits: 100% chardonnay grapes that make a beautiful champagne (Justin's favorite). 

We tried the true champagne outside on Ca Va's bricked patio while Justin demonstrated the saber parlor trick. The class of 20 (including Mayor Sly James), left with a much stronger understanding of both the traits and the making and producing of both sparkling wines and champagnes. Justin and his wife were wonderful hosts - if you're looking for somewhere to get away and grab a glass of bubbly and a cheese platter, look no further than Westport. 

Want to learn an easy and impressive party trick? Here's Justin's brief lesson on how to sabre a champagne bottle: