If there’s any bar genre that Kansas City is lacking, it’s martini-and-sports bars. Seriously, why aren’t there more places with exposed brick walls that serve froufrou drinks with names that end in -tini, -rita or -eamsicle? And would it kill anyone to put up some plasma screens so people can watch the game? Sheesh.
The newest is Tower Tavern, Martini Corner’s sportscentric watering hole. The place is named after the orange KCTV Channel 5 tower that hovers over East 31st Street. The Channel 5 Web site brags, in true KCTV hysterical fashion, that the station’s 1,042-foot structure is taller than the Eiffel Tower. We have a Pitch exclusive: We did the math, and Channel 5’s tower is actually 20 feet shorter. Now back to you, chief investigative reporter Ash-har Quraishi.
Um, anyway. We rounded up Research Assistants Josh, Peter and David Wayne and headed for the Land Below the Tower on a Friday night. Tower Tavern was our first stop, and even though the place had just opened two weeks prior, it was fairly packed. A rotund guy in a tweed sports jacket squeezed through the crowd. “I’m chubby,” he said. “I apologize.”
A spacious middle room held booths and tables, and the back room contained a pool table and a couple of video games of the Golden Tee variety. We admired the tin ceiling as well as the plethora of plasma screens, which ranged from 32 inches to 50 inches. At the bar, we ordered a $3.65 Boulevard Wheat and went about our business of crashing the cliques that made up the crowd. RA Josh compared it to the early days of Granfalloon, an interesting insight, considering that the two owners used to bartend there. The atmosphere was somewhat mellow, with tendencies toward meat-marketness.
When we met a gorgeous 29-year-old brunette named Erin, she informed us that a good chunk of the crowd came because they had known one of the owners from his days at Rockhurst High School. Erin explained that Brookside’s Catholic high school scene didn’t represent today’s Brookside, where yuppies slap BKS stickers on their SUVs. “It wasn’t a rich area,” she said. “It was big families, little houses. All of us were so poor growing up.”
After the sociology lesson, we headed next door to the second-newest bar on the block: The Drop. Housed in what used to be Buddha Bar, The Drop was fairly laid-back and cool. New Kids on the Block’s “Step by Step” played on the video jukebox screens. “You walked in to a good song,” said our attentive waiter.
We bypassed the $8.50 martinis for a pricey $4 Bud Light bottle and took a table in the front room. As we drank our beers, we took in the swanky décor, including pieces of art such as the bottom half of a woman’s face spliced with a chocolate-covered cherry. Large windows looked onto 31st Street, and the chandeliers were made from wineglasses.
The Drop drinkers were definitely more eclectic than the Martini Corner stereotype. Next to us was a trio of cool-looking women who knew one another from their kids’ play group. “We had to get away. It’s a moms’ night out,” said 29-year-old Melissa, a tattooed, nose-ringed mother of 6-year-old twins. They were friendly and down-to-earth, but sadly, moms’ night out is an early affair, and they had to head home.
We spotted an interesting spectacle at another table. Among a group of gay men was a 30-ish-year-old woman who was absolutely plastered. She kept rubbing up against the lone straight guy at that table. She licked his neck a couple of times. When she pulled away for a moment, the guy had to straighten out his button-up shirt. According to another man at the table, the woman had even tried to get up on a table to dance but had fallen down. The licker and the lickee soon left together.
To get that semi-disturbing sight out of our minds, we ventured into the back room and started chatting with two guys. Actually, we had interviewed 25-year-old Patrick a couple of years ago at the Dark Horse Tavern. Back then, he was pretty lit, and he inexplicably said to the Night Ranger, “I love you. I call you Dan Rather. You have bones. You have hair, too.”
This time, he was less wastoidal. “Hey! You called us scenesters!” he exclaimed. He was at The Drop with his friend, 25-year-old Marty, who bartends at Buzzard Beach. They told us that they had dropped in by accident: They were going to stop in the Empire Room to say hi to someone, but because Marty drives “an ancient, ancient Saab,” the engine flooded and they got stuck.
Marty explained that Record Bar owner Steve Tulipana had touted the place to him as a grown-up punk bar. “But I’m not seeing that,” Marty observed. “This is a Great Clips bar.”
“It’s an Old Navy outlet,” Patrick added, despite the fact that at the table next to them sat a white guy with dreads and another guy who resembled Mos Def.
Then they shifted gears. “The atmosphere is too cool,” Patrick said.
“We’re not very cool,” Marty pointed out.
So, guys, since we’re at The Drop, do you have any tales of name drops, ball drops, what have you?
“Well, two Fridays ago, someone dropped something in my drink, and I got drugged,” Marty said. He was at a local bar with a bunch of women, and the drugger apparently was trying to roofie one of the women and got Marty’s beer by mistake. He couldn’t remember anything after three beers. “And I’m a bartender, and I drink a lot,” he added.
“It was me,” Patrick admitted.
“When I think of drops, I think of pooping. I’m going to poop now,” Patrick said. “Thank you, Dan Rather. I love you.”
No, thank you, Patrick. There you have it: Drinking under a giant TV tower is good for your health. Except for the drinking part, theoretically. Now where’s our Dreamsicle Cosmorita, damn it?