The Food Issue

W Bar in Lee’s Summit serves up cocktails speakeasy style

The W Bar in Lee’s Summit didn’t set out to be a speakeasy.

True, the unmarked door leads to a long, steep flight of stairs, and the 38-seat bar at the top is open just three nights a week, and then usually only to those with reservations. Oh, and stays are limited to two hours.

But exclusive? Bartender and general manager Mike Strohm laughs.

“This is really, truly something from the heart. I wake up every day and am so happy to come to work here. Our guests see that,” says Strohm, who notes there’s nowhere to hang a sign on the street, the small space keeps overhead down, and the reservations policy lets more people enjoy time in the bar.

Strohm likes nothing more than educating guests about the myriad spirits on his back bar, often serving them tastes from tiny communion-style cups. His cocktail menu features prettily garnished gin and tonics, and updated classics such as a Negroni with gin, sweet vermouth, cacao nib-infused Campari and a jalapeno-habanero-sweet bell pepper tincture.

Seasonal originals range from his favorite Heart of Rye, made with rye whiskey, sherry and Cynar 70, to the popular bourbon-based Smoked Vanilla. Smoked cocktails aren’t new, Strohm admits, but the W’s method of doing it is. The bar’s patent-pending device can smoke four drinks at once by piping wood, cigar or other types of smoke into four large bell jars.

It sounds fancy, but it’s not about showing off, Strohm says. Every drink on the menu is designed with one thing in mind.

“I work a drink until I think the flavor is what I’m looking for,” he says. “It’s 100 percent about flavor.”

▪ The W Bar, 6  1/2 W. Third St., Lee’s Summit, 816-287-0000,

Mike Strohm, bartender and general manager of the W Bar in Lee’s Summit, says he created this — his favorite on the current cocktail list — to showcase Cynar 70, an Italian amaro.

Heart of Rye

Makes 1 drink

2 ounces rye whiskey (Strohm uses Michter’s US1 Straight Rye)

1 ounce Barbadillo Pedro Ximénez Sherry

1/2 ounce Cynar 70

Nutmeg, for garnish

Combine whiskey, sherry and Cynar 70 in a mixing glass, fill part way with ice and stir for 30 seconds. Strain into a cocktail glass and grate nutmeg on top to garnish.

Per drink: 209 calories (none from fat), no fat, no cholesterol, 7 grams carbohydrates, trace protein, 2 milligrams sodium, no dietary fiber.