I’ve always liked ice cream parlors for the free samples.
With the culinary adventure of 31 flavors, it’s hard to choose without taking a little taste first. Too bad sampling isn’t typically an option for drinks and desserts. I mean, who wants to order a $9 cocktail you don’t like?
Enter the beauty of the flight — a tiny tasting of different choices at a discount. Flights of wine and cheese, whiskey and beer and desserts can be found on Kansas City menus, making it easier to try a little bit of everything until you find your favorite.
A few summer samplings to get your weekend started right:
Mini Martini Flight
At Houlihan’s, the flight isn’t fabulous only because you get three mini martinis for $9. It’s a sexy display, too. Three little martini glasses, curvy stems and salted or sugared rims? Can you say Instagram? There are several flavors to choose from. After trying most of them at the Northland location, these are my favorites: mandarin mini because the Malibu coconut rum and mango make it wonderfully tropical; blueberry mini, with white cranberry juice, Absolut vodka and blueberries is strong and sweet; and the lemon drop mini makes you want to pucker up. houlihans.com
Cheese flights are the norm when you’re talking about food samplings, but dessert makes life so much sweeter. At Pinstripes in Prairiefire in Overland Park, you can bowl, play bocce, drink and order up some really good food. A stand out: the $12 dessert flight. It gets you a trio of delectable sweets (Frangelico chocolate cake, caramelized cheesecake, apple pear bread pudding) and a bunch of grapes, too. There’s also a fruity-fudgy dipping sauce. If you’re sharing, you might want to call dibs on the bread pudding. It’s that good. pinstripes.com
A typical margarita at Port Fonda is about $10. But things change at the Westport restaurant when you order a flight. That gets you four short signature margaritas for $16. Oh, yeah. We’ll take it. It’s enough to serve two, and not only do you get both the classic margarita and the flowery Roselle, you also get the Port Fonda-Colada with its perfectly pineapple and coconut taste. For the fourth margarita, you get a treat: Little Freshie, the West Side soda fountain and snow cone shop, collaborated with Port Fonda on special margaritas. You might get the spicy pineapple serrano or my preference — a fun and fizzy raspberry rose. portfondakc.com
On those hot and humid summer nights, cooling off is easy at Snow & Company, where frosty flights come in groups of three ($11.50), five ($15.50) or 10 ($25.50). This Crossroads frozen cocktail bar is coming to Gladstone later this year, and the menu is stacked. With so many options, the flights won’t force you to make the hard decisions. The shot glasses might seem small, but they pack a lot of punch, so definitely don’t drink without a sober buddy.
You can’t go wrong with the flavors, but you’re welcome to borrow from my top three: Limey Bastard (Hendrick’s Gin, Thatcher’s Organic Cucumber liqueur, fresh lemon, lime and milk), Sunshine Boulevard (Boulevard Wheat intensified with local 360 Vodka, fresh OJ and fresh lemon) and most recently, the Elphaba (Midori melon and Stirrings Peach Liqueurs, Stellina di Notte Prosecco — delightfully “Wicked.”) snowandcompany.com
Lattéland is in the midst of transitioning to Kaldi’s Coffee, a St. Louis-based boutique that bought the shops last year — but the service is still stellar and the menu’s been upgraded. In Power & Light, the signage still says Lattéland, but you can get items like Kaldi’s signature Sidecar: a single shot of cappuccino and a single shot of the Espresso 700 or World Tour espresso. You also get some chocolate-covered coffee beans and sparkling water to cleanse your palate.
Now, I’m not a coffee expert. I’m more of the caramel, pumpkin, make-it-so-sweet-and-light-it-barely-qualifies-as-coffee kind of drinker. So this Sidecar is driving me at a speed of about 75 miles per hour. Never have I been so instantaneously awake. My eyelids are jolted open. Bonus? You get this specialty combo for $3.75 to $4 depending on the espresso you choose (World Tour is more expensive). It’s a nontraditional flight, but you can add a few quarters and get both kinds of espresso. Just be prepared for the rush. I can’t sit still. I’m going to run a few laps now. Bye. kaldiscoffee.com