I took a short trip to Kansas City last week for work. Typically when I’m traveling for work, I try to find a good place to enjoy some bourbon in the evening. This trip however, my colleagues were eager to explore a place better known for their burgers and beer. Being a good sport I acquiesced and agreed to join them safe in my knowledge that any decent bar these days would have a few solid bourbons on the bar.
We headed to the trendy Westport area of KC and wound up having to park our cars several blocks from our destination. About a block from our destination, as we made our way down the busy street lined with bars, stores and hair salons, I turned to my right while crossing a street and was immediately given a sign – a whiskey sign that is. Jutting out from a building about 100 feet from the corner was a sign with the most simple, yet arresting message, I could ever hope to see.
Knowing one should never ignore such an obvious sign; I quickly ducked down the side street to check out what lay behind the whiskey sign.
The sign was for a relatively new whiskey bar named ‘Julep’. Billed as a cocktail club on premise their website states that they “fancy ourselves more than just a local watering hole.” Curious as ever, I stuck my head inside for a quick peak and made a quick mental note that based on what I saw I would need to spend some time there later in the evening for “research” purposes.
Eager to check out Julep Cocktail Club I headed back with one my colleagues after dinner and was thrilled to find it wasn’t overly busy. We were able to easily sit at the bar and strike up a conversation with Scott, one of the establishment’s bartenders.
Scott informed us the bar currently featured roughly 200 whiskeys – with 80-90 of those being bourbons. Julep also sells whiskey lockers to “discerning drinkers” for $1,500 a year. Locker owners are able to buy bottles at retail through the bar to be kept in their locker. You also have access to a private room where you can drink your own whiskey with friends.
Included in that $1,500 lock rental fee is membership in Julep’s bottle club. The bar places a bottle of hard to find bourbon in your locker every 2 months at no additional charge. It’s a nice additional perk but it doesn’t quite justify the $1,500 locker fee in my opinion. That being said, for those who are whisky geeks and have either money to burn or clients to entertain, I’m sure it’s a fair price to pay for something unique.
At 10:30 pm on a Thursday night the bar was calm and low-key. The lighting was just as low as the overall noise level. (I very much appreciate being able to talk easily to the person next to me.) While the bar’s printed bourbon list wasn’t available yet, the actual shelf selection of bourbon was solid. Please note that they didn’t appear to have any of the hard to find bourbons people tend to seek out like Buffalo Trace’s Antique Collection, Four Roses special release and of course – no Pappy Van Winkle. So don’t visit then if you’re looking to get access to rare bourbon. They’ve got plenty of good things to drink – like Elijah Craig Cask Strength – but nothing really rare.
Over the course of about an hour and a half, my colleague and I enjoyed a few different rounds along with some great banter with Scott and a fellow bourbon lover who was seated at the bar. Visiting Julep was a nice to way to wind down the evening. We even sampled a few of Scott’s cocktails, which were all done superbly.
Julep is off to a great start and definitely a place for bourbon lovers in KC to check out. I’ll be interested to see how things progress for the owners as the word gets out and they get pressured by us whiskey geeks to obtain some of the harder to find bourbons.
I highly recommend stopping by if you’re in town and maybe I’ll see you there next time. Save me a seat and order me something good.
If you’d like to learn more about Julep check out their website – www.julepkc.com.
Patrick Garrett, "Pops" as he's known to his friends, is the founder of Bourbon & Banter, LLC and claims the title of Chief Drinking Officer (CDO). A long-time marketing professional and photographer, Pops hopes to use his professional experience and love of Bourbon to spread the Bourbon Gospel and help everyone realize the therapeutic power of having a good drink with friends. Read Patrick's full profile.
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