It’s not Christmas in the city until those Country Club Plaza lights flip on Thanksgiving night.
And then we’re rushing to check our lists. We’re driving straight through on our way to pressing matters. We’re barely taking in the glowing holiday spirit from the Plaza to Crown Center to downtown to Zona Rosa.
Don’t just glance at those gorgeous lights. Stop, get out and get lit, just a little bit.
You’ve been good. Order a drink and say cheers to yourself. I suggest a winter warmer, a hot little mug to toast to the naughty and nice of the season.
A few suggestions for the best drinks near the city’s best holiday lights:
Crown Center & Union Station night lights
Be it Crown Center’s Winter Wonderland or Union Station’s inner glow of vintage warmth and beauty, I love bouncing between the two during the holiday season. The trains, the lights, downtown at night? It just feels festive. And if you can snag a seat at the bar at Pierpont’s in Union Station, you win.
The bar is expansive with fine wine and liquor, but the long list of hot chocolates and coffees gets me every single time. I go straight for the Nutty Chocolatier ($7.50). The Frangelico, brandy, cinnamon, hot chocolate and so-very-fresh whipped cream is liquid comfort.
If you want all of that plus a stronger kick, Grandma’s Hot Chocolate ($7.50) is your friend. Because Grand Marnier might just be Santa’s little helper. pierponts.com.
Zona Rosa’s Christmas crowns
Zona Rosa’s Christmas crowns pay homage to the crowns that hung above downtown streets until the 1970s. After a World Series win, I’d say those royal lights take on a new meaning. We’re the #Crowned city, so find your way up north and beam with pride. My favorite place to warm up is Bravo, partly because it sits in front of the ginormous Christmas tree in the square, partly because the drinks are delicious and cheap.
Get the Cafe Italiano ($5.50). The mix of Frangelico, dark creme de cacao, coffee and whipped cream is three shades of chocolate delicious with a boost to keep your holiday spirits high. (Bravo also has a location at Leawood’s Town Center.) bravoitalian.com.
Marriott Downtown dazzlers
Whether it’s bathed in blue for the Royals or celebrating a new year, the Marriott Downtown gives the city a light show every night. For the holidays, we see Frosty the Snowman, Christmas trees and all kinds of red and green along one of my favorite buildings in the Kansas City skyline. Don’t just drive by. Stop in for a visit.
First walk across 12th Street to Barney Allis Plaza to really see the lights. Then head to the hotel bar lounge and ask for a Chata Coffee ($9). This drink is so delicious I have ordered it on August nights. The cinnamon-sweet blend of RumChata, Kahlua, hot Roasterie coffee and whipped cream is a warm blanket and a hug. marriott.com.
The Plaza Lights sparkle
When it comes to Christmastime on the Plaza, McCormick & Schmick’s has one of the best menus and a great view to go with it. Take a break and warm up with the adult coffees and hot cocktails.
My favorite: Hot Apple Pie, a spiced apple cider spiked with Tuaca Vanilla Citrus Liqueur ($9). It’s a tall glass mug of buttery and sweet apple delicious. The only thing missing is a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
But if you’re a chocoholic, go for the Spiked Mocha ($10). We’re talking about hot chocolate upgraded with Stoli Vanil Vodka, Chambord Black Raspberry Liqueur and coffee. Fa la la la to that. mccormickandschmicks.com.