Recipe: Repeal 18th's Vinci Cocktail
Repeal 18th Bar & Bistro brings major cocktail game to North Kansas City.
For a bar that opened its doors a mere four months ago, Repeal 18th is already a powerful presence on KC’s cocktail scene. Bar Manager Darrell Loo, whose resume includes Julep Cocktail Club, BLVD Tavern and a 2017 Woodford Reserve Manhattan Experience regional championship title, skillfully and meticulously runs the program — with more than 280 bottles of whiskey behind the bar to tinker with.
“We’re trying to bring a new perspective to this part of town when it comes to whiskey and cocktails,” Loo says. “Many people are excited for us to be here doing what we are doing.”
The industrial-chic space features a clean, modern bar with several tables in the main dining room, plus an intimate cigar room equipped with a humidor that separates the spacious outdoor patio complete with a stage — Repeal 18th has live music Wednesday through Saturday from the likes of jazz locals Lonnie McFadden, Grand Marquis and A La Mode. A second-level terrace with a bar and additional seating — expect a more lounge-y vibe with plush furniture once fully renovated — overlooks the main level.
“We’ll always have classic cocktails on the menu using pre-Prohibition recipes,” he says. “Our Old Fashioned is always served neat. There’s only three ingredients. Seasonal is what we’re having fun with.”
Loo is right; there’s certainly no shortage of fun on Repeal 18th’s cocktail list. Take the Babyboy, for example. “I call everyone baby boys and baby girls,” he says. “We drink shitty drinks sometimes at work, and my go-to is Crown Royal Apple and cranberry. I know it’s disgusting, but it does the trick,” Loo says with a laugh. “So the idea is to revamp that and make it into a cocktail.” The grown-up version of the Babyboy features Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye, apple, cinnamon, lime and cranberry.
While drinks inspired by the bar staffs’ nightly favorites are a great place to start, this specialty cocktail will command the room. Loo calls it the Vinci, named after Leonardo da Vinci, “one of the most influential artists in the art world,” he says. “His art reflects beauty and strength at the same time, and I think the cocktail itself, from the presentation to taste, delivers that. It is a cask-strength, booze-only cocktail, yet softness comes through when you drink it.”
Loo carefully constructs each element of the cocktail. The combination of Booker’s bourbon with Cheongsam jade oolong tea liqueur, Suze Saveur d’autrefois (a French aperitif with intense gentian flower notes), turbinado simple syrup and 18.21 Barrel-aged Havana & Hide bitters makes for a booze-forward yet approachable drink.
In the spirit of collaboration, Repeal 18th also features cocktails from other KC bartenders as part of the Midwest Melee, which brings teams from various cities to compete in a cocktail faceoff. The Kansas City team’s motif is “Disney on the Rocks” — Jeni Lynn of Westide Local contributes “Cinderella” (Jura 10-Year scotch, Giffard Caribbean Pineapple liqueur, blueberry, thyme, lemon, No. 22 Toasted Coconut bitters).
Such an ambitious list of cocktails calls for an equally substantial food menu. When I met chef Bryan Sparks (Genessee Royale, Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar) in early October, he was busy dreaming up entrees like scallops and foie gras slow-poached in duck fat with fig, parsnip, leek and black garlic and Spanish octopus with braised endive, sweet peppers, pork belly, preserved lemon and smoked paprika oil. Sunday brunch is also an option, with staples like breakfast burritos, eggs Benedict, biscuits and gravy, and libations like bloody marys and bottomless mimosas.
To celebrate its namesake, Repeal 18th will host a party on Dec. 5 in honor of the day the 18th Amendment — Prohibition — was tossed out. Few details were shared as of press time, but knowing Loo and his team, the soiree will be well worth a trip north of the river.
1825 Buchanan St., North Kansas City, Mo., (816) 527-9819, repeal18th.com
2 dashes 18.21 Barrel-Aged Havana & Hide bitters
1/4 ounce Suze Saveur d’autrefois
1 barspoon Demerara simple syrup
1 1/2 ounces Booker’s bourbon
- One large ice sphere slowly melts into the cocktail; no fancy garnishes interfere with the drinker’s lips.
- Loo takes the orange peel and twists it above the rim of the glass to release the citrus oils, then places it beside the glass on the plank.
- For a full sensory experience, Loo mists the fresh rosemary with yellow chartreuse and ignites the sprig with a blowtorch to create an earthy, smoky scent that wafts through the air as the drink is presented.
- The rosemary sits in an aperitif glass next to the cocktail on the plank.