Don’t be afraid to fly solo on Valentine’s Day

On Valentine’s Day, taking yourself out for a cocktail is a statement. You’re saying to the world — or at least to the couples surrounding you — that you are single, that you will probably die alone, and that you’ve made some kind of peace with the likelihood that your body will go undiscovered for some time.

It’s a grim picture you paint, going it solo on V-Day. Not that anyone even sees you.

But that’s no reason not to go get yourself a well-earned Manhattan come Sunday. And maybe, this Valentine’s Day, your solo drink can make a different kind of statement.

For one thing, you’d be hard-pressed to find an unsympathetic bartender. Valentine’s Day enjoys a certain reputation among restaurant industry folk; the annual holiday of love tends to be an amateur-night spectacle that reveals ardor’s limits more than testifying to its limitlessness. As Mike Strohm, the bar manager at the W Bar in Lee’s Summit, puts it: “To me, treating your loved one like you love them should be something you do every day, not just one day out of the 365.”

To that end, the W Bar — open Thursday through Saturday — is treating Cupid’s weekend just like any other: sans romantic specials. And at the end of the night, you can bet that your favorite bartender will dedicate himself fully to bringing on his own buzz, the easy way.

“Most nights that I finish a shift, you can find me with a cold beer and shot of something,” says ultimate hospitality man Kenny Cohrs. (His go-to: Boulevard Pale Ale or High Life paired with Four Roses Yellow Label whiskey.) “It’s like a chef who makes incredible food all night long and then grabs a burger at the drive-thru. The last thing he wants to do is make something for himself. After a night of shaking up cocktails, I just want something simple.”

Strohm, too, favors simplicity when left to his own devices. “I would rather go out and drink by myself,” he says. “I like to sit and relax, and for me it’s about enjoying the atmosphere and not being dragged certain ways with a bunch of people.”

That’s right: Your bartender loves to drink alone and will respect you for doing the same. Especially on Valentine’s Day. And just where should you take this confident new you out for a spin? Try one of these.

Pendergast Club

931 Broadway

Cohrs’ main gig is at Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar, but on Wednesday nights you’ll find him holding it down at the Pendergast Club, located up the stairs from the Majestic Restaurant. This joint is a true throwback, with plush leather couches and rich maroon walls. It’s also a cigar club with membership stretching back a couple of decades, and the earthy tobacco smell is a permanent fixture. There are more than a hundred whiskeys to choose from, and if you ask nicely, the Majestic will deliver food upstairs, too. (Remember, though, that the kitchen closes at 9 p.m.) Cohrs guarantees that anybody venturing upstairs prefers to enjoy that Churchill or Blanton’s without unnecessary conversation. Bring a book.

Harry’s Bar & Tables

501 Westport Road

As the quintessential industry hangout, Harry’s Bar & Tables in Westport is usually filled with folks working a pre-shift or post-shift cocktail on their own. Other than the usual daily happy hour (and reverse happy hour), there’s no Valentine’s Day special on tap, but general manager Jeremy Roth is quick to remind me that the $4 house shot — Citron and lemonade — is always available. (It’s his own night-ender, he says.)

The W Bar

6 1/2 Third Street, Lee’s Summit

The 48-seat W Bar is nothing if not intimate, so it’s no surprise that some among the place’s regulars often arrive by themselves. “So if you do happen to be alone on Valentine’s Day, maybe it’s a good way to go out and have a good conversation with others who might be in the same situation,” Strohm says.

Either way, the man has devised a fine new fuel for you: a riff on an Old Fashioned featuring an ounce of Post Coffee Co.’s cold brew, two ounces of Old Overholt Rye, a half-ounce of house-made burnt-sugar syrup and two dashes of his own chocolate bitters. “I’m a huge coffee nerd, so I like that little hint of flavor at the end of the night,” he says.

Dave’s Stagecoach Inn

316 Westport Road

Ah, Dave’s Stagecoach, you dive bar built for one: cheap drinks, a killer jukebox and individual game stations. And you’ll never get any side-eye from Joe Tace, the Sunday-night bartender. “I’ll probably do a shot with them,” he says when I ask how he’ll treat the Valentine’s dateless. The Sunday specials include $3 bloody Marys and 75-cent wings. “You don’t even have to order a full set if you want to eat by yourself,” he says. “No judging.”

Categories: Food & Drink