Ryan Maybee | Owner, Manifesto

Ryan Maybee
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“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.

So what does Maybee do when he’s not drinking, or drink-making? Here, the bartender tackles our Lookbook Questionnaire to share the first time he ever got drunk, his go-to drink in a dive and the last text message he sent.

Current occupation:
Bar and restaurant co-owner.

What do want to be when you grow up?
At this point, growing up sounds like retirement, at which point just full-time bartending a few days a week sounds beautiful.

Best thing you ever drank: 
Stitzel-Weller Bottled-in-Bond bourbon from 1941, bottled specifically for the Kansas City Club. Possibly hand-picked by Harry S. Truman.

Worst thing you ever drank: 
Coconut Buzz Ball. Discovered while on a road trip across Missouri with some other bartenders, and described by one as “tastes like Jersey Shore.”

First time you ever got drunk: 
I was 13 years old and it was New Year’s Eve. My parents didn’t like the cheap bubbly they bought, so they left it in the fridge. Thought I’d give it a whirl. Didn’t end well.

If you had to listen to one album on loop, for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Led Zeppelin, Physical Graffiti.

What’s the weirdest hobby you currently have or have had? 
I have a ton of cocktail menus from bars around the world.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known five years ago? 
Buy, don’t rent.

Weirdest cocktail experiment you’ve ever attempted:
Using cheese in a cocktail.

What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not eating, drinking or drink-making?
Teaching my blue Great Dane, Moose, new tricks.

Weirdest drink request you’ve ever gotten: 
Bailey’s and cranberry juice.

Your favorite bar, and why:
Harry’s Bar and Tables in Kansas City. Legendary bar where everyone is welcome and the staff takes hospitality to a whole new level.

Best meal you’ve ever had:  Most recently, dinner at Coltivare in Houston was phenomenal. Maybe the 1964 Old Fitzgerald Bottled in Bond had something to do with that, but the food was really amazing.

What’s your go-to drink in a cocktail bar?
Dealer’s choice.

Wine bar?
Rosé Champagne or something dry from Alsace.

Dive bar?
Jameson, rocks.

Your preferred hangover recovery regime:
I would prefer an hour-long massage. But I usually have to settle for coffee and diner food like everyone else.

The one thing you wish would disappear from drink lists forever:
The disclaimer about drinks taking longer to prepare because they’re “craft.”

The last text message you sent: 
“Perfectly hungover for my flight. Thanks for the hospitality!”