“My drink-making style is very much classicist,” says Ryan Maybee, the Kansas City bartender and proprietor behind the renowned speakeasy Manifesto and its sister restaurant, Rieger.
Opened in 2009, Manifesto occupies the basement level of The Rieger Hotel, itself opened in 1915, and appropriately focuses on an earlier era of drink-making. “We stay rooted in that classic approach,” explains Maybee, “but then we do try and elaborate and push the boundaries a little bit from there.”
While the bar offers serious cocktails, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. As the menu reads: “We may have fancy cocktails, but we’re just a good old-fashioned neighborhood bar.” It’s a balance reflected in the drinks themselves; a range of “shooters” including Jägermeister and whiskey appears alongside a roster of classically inspired cocktails and seasonal specialities. “We…try to keep it fun,” says Maybee.
Here, three drinks that define Maybee’s high-low style.
“The horsefeather has been a cocktail around Kansas City since—from what I can tell—the early 1900s. But when I was in my early twenties and bartending…I just assumed it was a classic cocktail, like an actual classic cocktail, that was just a variation on a Moscow Mule. Back then, it was rye whiskey with ginger beer and Angostura bitters with a squeeze of lemon instead of lime. A few years later, I started to realized that nobody outside of the Kansas City area knew what I was talking about when I would ask for a Horsefeather…I kind of appropriated the recipe a little bit, using [Rieger’s Kansas City Whiskey], but it works really, really well and…its just a delicious drink with its roots in K.C.”Girl From Cadiz
“I created this drink in 2007 for the Vinos de Jerez Cocktail Competition. I made the national finals in New York City, and it led to so many great, lifelong friendships—as well as opportunities. Many of the competitors I went up against I’m still close with today. And this was how I met Steve Olson, who became a mentor, a friend, and now a business partner. Even though I didn’t win, Steve promised that I would one day get a chance to visit Jerez de la Frontera with him, and he kept his word. This drink went on my opening cocktail menu at Manifesto in 2009, and is still on the menu today. It’s never going away.”Sazerac
“The Sazerac was the cocktail that opened my eyes to how technique and preparation can really make the difference between a horrible cocktail and a beautiful one. The first time I ever tried to make one, it was truly awful, and I thought it was the worst thing I’d ever tasted. After a few years, a guest at my bar asked for one, and when I looked a little stunned at the request, he offered to walk me through how it should be prepared. It was amazing, and it forced me to realize that there was a lot more to the world of cocktails than I thought.”