Serving Up Craft Cocktails at Home

Each day, passerby peek in the front door of Libations & Company, the cocktail geek’s dream retail storefront, and ask owner Seth Allen if he serves cocktails. The answer is both yes and no.

“I serve everything you need to make your own cocktail at home,” Allen says.

“I want you to take an experience home with you like you would get at the W, Manifesto or Tom’s Town. You go to these places because the experience and the cocktails are incredible.”

Allen’s inspiration was his own desire as a craft cocktail enthusiast of 10-plus years to find all the ingredients he now carries under one roof. Visitors to the historic storefront in downtown Lee’s Summit will find glassware, professional-grade barware and 12 different bitters from four manufacturers all in a pre-prohibition ambiance. Think exposed brick walls, rich leather seating, sideboards lined with bottles and barware and even a copper still for those who want to try their hand at making their own whiskey, bourbon or gin.

Allen features spirits from seven Kansas City distilleries: Union Horse, Tom’s Town, S.D. Strong, Restless Spirits, Lifted Spirits, Mean Mule Distilling and J. Rieger & Company. A variety of shrubs from Kansas City Canning Company help him start a conversation with customers about their cocktail preference. With Canning Co. flavors like Apple Caraway, Strawberry, Beet Tarragon and Pickled Bloody Mary, the flavor profile can lean more savory or sweet, but will never lack in complexity. Off-the-beaten-path bitter flavors such as chocolate, celery, lemon, grapefruit and rosewater add another flavor punch. After pinpointing a cocktail, Allen will suggest the appropriate glass to enhance the taste of the drink.

In addition to regular store hours, Allen also plans to offer extended hours for downtown events. Libations will host mixology classes featuring guest bartenders and special tastings featuring representatives from Kansas City distilleries.

“We’ll take you through the process of how you put that drink together, these are the tools you need and the ingredients you need,” Allen says. “You can’t make a fine cocktail without fine ingredients. It’s just not going to taste the same.”

Allen says he thinks that Libations will appeal to a young audience of 20-somethings looking to build their craft cocktail knowledge as well as the more experienced home host seeking quality ingredients.

“It’s coming back around where people want to have a nice, well-stocked wet bar in their home so they can offer their friends and family a nice drink,” Allen says. “It’s a renaissance right now for spirits in Kansas City.”