Friday, July 12, 2013

Make Me ... a Kansas City Ice Water

Posted By on Fri, Jul 12, 2013 at 7:27 AM

Looking for a KC Ice Water.
  • Looking for a KC Ice Water.
I had to move to State College, Pennsylvania, to taste the Kansas City Ice Water. The concoction mingles vodka and gin with a splash or two of Sprite and enough lime juice to make it cloudy. (This murkiness is the source of the cocktail's name; East Coasters apparently believe that KC's water comes straight from a dirty river.) Shaken and poured just right, it quenches your thirst on a summer night - but is stiff enough to erase the memory of the hot evening when you accidentally drink seven of them.

But does anyone in Kansas City actually make this namesake beverage? I stopped by three savvy bars, ordered a Kansas City Ice Water without further explanation, and waited to see what the bartender made.

Manifesto
(1924 Main)

Initial response: "It's been a while since we've made one of those."

What happens: The waiter returns to the table and asks what's in the drink. I tell him it has clear liquor and should be crisp, with a touch of sweetness. He leaves again and consults with both on-duty bartenders for a long minute. It's clearly been more than a while.

What I get: A tall, narrow glass arrives. The murkiness looks promising, and the twisted-lime-rind garnish earns style points. But the gin overwhelms a bit, and there's not quite enough sweetness. This is just a gin and tonic with a tad more citrus.

Memorable line: "Do you have a backup? Our bartender has no clue. He is giving me the death stare."


12 Baltimore Bar & Café
(at Hotel Phillips, 106 West 12th Street)

Initial response: "Do you mean Kansas City Tea?"

What happens: Multiple bartenders and waiters congregate without reaching conensus. One of them suggests using Google.

What I get: A perfect, properly translucent Kansas City Ice Water - not too limey, not too sweet, not too strong. Thanks, Google.

Memorable line: "You have to bring in all of your fancy ideas from the East Coast."

The Drop
(409 East 31st Street)

Initial response: "I'm familiar with it. Best-tasting Ice Water in Kansas City."

What happens: Nothing further is said. The confidence on display is awesome.

What I get: The drink arrives in an oversized glass, much larger than those given for average cocktails - totally fine. The contents are clear, though - too clear. Up through the straw comes ... water. This is water. For the record, it *is damn good water.

Memorable line: "Most people don't call it that." *Then what do they call it? "Water."

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