The W Crew Offers Up a Cocktail with Complex Flavors

Photo by Aaron Leimkuehler

Some heavy hitters—Madonna, LeBron, Cher, RuPaul—need only one name to make their presence known. Lee’s Summit’s best kept semi-secret needs only one letter: W.

The simple moniker suits The W, an intimate cocktail bar that prizes its air of mystery located in the recently formed Strother District. Other drinking establishments shout out their presence; The W barely whispers. Take entering the bar—it’s easy to walk past the nondescript door a few times without noticing. Even once you do discover it, you must be granted entry before you can climb up a moody staircase to the second-story space. (Keep an eye on its downstairs neighbor, which is set to soon open as Hand in Glove, a more casual coffee and cocktail spot from The W’s owners.)

The term speakeasy has been thrown around frequently in recent years, but The W lives up to the name without feeling pretentious or passé. When you finally arrive at the cocktail lounge, the quarters are close but not cramped, the atmosphere deliciously relaxed. For all the intrigue and secrecy surrounding getting into the bar, the bartenders are approachable and friendly. The usual cacophony of clanging glasses, aggressive music, and clamoring voices is replaced by the buzz of conversation, making it an ideal spot for a date night or catching up with old friends.

But don’t confuse quiet with stuffy—quite the opposite, it has a sharp sense of humor that extends from its rules, specifying men in flip flops are not allowed, to the menu, which lumps beer and wine together under the simple heading of “S**t We’re Not Good At.”

Beer and wine might not be The W’s forte, but cocktails most definitely are. Under the purview of bartenders Mike Strohm and Taylor Dumsky, the bar continues to innovate, creating seasonal specials as well as serving up house favorites. Perhaps most notable are The W’s smoked cocktails, which include the exceptional Smoked Vanilla, made with house bourbon, vanilla burnt sugar, house bitters and Applewood smoke, and the French Bottoms, a blend of cognac and a few other choice ingredients with Sassafras Smoke. The popular drinks lend a fragrant haze to the air you’d hope for in a speakeasy, without any of the unpleasantness of that other kind of smoking in bars.

Also on the menu: a selection of highballs and spirit-free cocktails that manage to make you forget about that little missing ingredient, and any number of other creative concoctions from Strohm, Dumsky and company. Keep an eye on The W’s Facebook page (aptly @ThePrivateBar) for a peek behind the curtain and info on upcoming events, including collaborations with other topnotch local bars.

“Slightly sweet and approachable, this drink is the perfect way to embrace emerging spring characteristics like crisp citrus, tropical fruits, and a botanical aloe and cucumber blend. The design was inspired by tropical tiki flavors juxtaposed with fresh garden essences. It is an ode to a spectrum of classic cocktails.”

—Taylor Dumsky

Lohan Beach Club

  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • ½ ounce Chareau Aloe Liqueur
  • 1 ounce Macadamia Nut Creamer
  • 2 ounces The Real McCoy 3 Year Rum

Combine ingredients in a shaking tin; add ice. Shake until the tin is chilled. Using both a Hawthorn and tea strainer, strain into a chilled coupe.