Beyond the many brick establishments on Old Broadway Street is an underground lair run by a talented bunch of jazz musicians. They have named the bar after themselves and are known for serving a fine collection of musing Juleps. Ladies, gents and bourbon lovers, I give you Kansas Smitty’s.
Venue and Performance
A low, lazy ceiling and warming turquoise walls are what greet you when you walk downstairs to Kansas Smitty’s small bar and stage area. Candlelit tables cloud the floor while black curtains make the backdrop for the stage. My friend and I were fortunate enough to visit Kansas on a Thursday night when the house band were playing. Until the band graced the stage at 9pm the venue was fairly quiet, but the tables were full within minutes when they came on stage. A very nervous, but very talented singer called Holiday performed with the band for the first few songs of the night. Classics like Blue Moon and even the odd Dolly Parton song rolled out of her mouth and left the crowd begging and clapping for more. With each song, a member from Kansas Smitty’s held the spotlight with a short solo. The most memorable being the drummer, he had a flirtatious, cheeky manner and a knack for entertaining a crowd with his humour.
Kansas Smitty’s cocktail menu takes a bow in the direction of the Julep family. For those unfamiliar to the Julep cocktail, get ready for some fun filled facts. First of all, the mint Julep is said to originate from the Deep South. Secondly, whiskey and bourbon were famously included in the Julep during the time of the American Civil War. For those of you a bit rusty with American history this was between 1861-1865. There are a total of 8 julep cocktails on offer at Kansas; the majority include these two fine beverages. Rum, cognac and gin also make a swift appearance on the menu for a streak of variety. Bar manager Jack informed us that the ingredients in each cocktail are soaked in the accompanied alcohol for 48 hours to enrich the flavours. A long scan of the menu led us to ordering the Allotment Julep; it contains gin, nettle elderflower, carrot, coriander seed, apple, pear and mint. This was probably our favourite tipple of the evening, the combination of flavours worked wonders on my palate. Later on we tried the Sleepytime Julep; it contains Ron Burgundy’s favourite tipple, scotch whiskey alongside chamomile, pink peppercorn, raspberry, lemon peel and mint. We sampled most of the menu but these two Juleps stood out amongst the other Civil War participants.
Atmosphere and Clientele
The Kansas Smitty’s house band attracted an eclectic crowd the night we visited which ranged in age. This didn’t come as any surprise as they play music that speaks to any generation. A big plus with the Kansas Smitty's crowd? Nobody took out a phone to take photos or trawl through their Facebook timeline; sadly this is something I haven't seen in a very long time and it just goes to show how enthralling the quality of the performance was.
Kansas Smitty’s have taken a huge leap by opening their own bar, but from my visit on Thursday night it’s definitely paying off. The bar offers a unique experience which is laid back and anything but pretentious. My advice? Get yourself down there for a timeless Julep and some toe tapping, phone ignoring entertainment.