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Annual Paris of the Plains Cocktail Festival

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Kansas City has a long and storied history with liquid spirits dating back to Prohibition when the black-market free flow of alcohol despite the rule of law of the day took precedence.

That tradition has continued on today, as evidenced through numerous events happening all over town on almost any given night, the most notable of which is the annual Paris of the Plains Cocktail Festival, also known as PoPFest, held this year from September 7-10. 

It all began when some local bartenders and connossieurs, including now widely known Doug Frost, Ryan Maybee and Brandon Cummins, decided to shed some light on the art of the cocktail, food and music in Kansas City, so they decided to corner all of the local talent in one room and have them compete in a bartending competition.


The event really struck a chord and was expanded to offer a higher level of education to the bar professionals, blossoming in a full-scale, high profile event in 2012.

Since that time, it has grown even more into a spectacular, multi-day educational and entertainment celebration of cocktails, spirits, food, history and culture in the Midwest showcasing the city’s best bars, bartenders, distilleries, microbreweries, restaurants and more.

Attendees—both folks within the industry such as spirits writers, world renowned bartenders, cocktail aficionados, chefs and food purveyors and brand ambassadors, as well as everyday cocktail, wine and beer enthusiasts—can enjoy a wide array of events dotted across several of the city’s hoppin’ dining and entertainment districts, everything from luncheons to paired dinners,  spirits tastings, swanky soirees, parties for every level of cocktail enthusiast (think Honky Gin & Tonky, a 1980’s Usbg Karaoke Prom, a Plantation Rum Tiki Party, KC Bbq & Blues and a Kilt Krawl Classic).

Music performances, educational workshops, the Midwest Melee Competition, a competition between five cities with various challenges, and the PoPFest grand finale – the annual Greater Kansas City Bartending Competition – is also part of the fun.

Some of the seminars will include:

  • Dale Degroff – aka King Cocktail, credited with reinventing the bartending profession, winner of two James Beard Awards.
  • Sean Kenyon – World-class bartender, American Bartender of the Year 2014, owner of two of Denver’s most acclaimed bars.
  • Kate Gerwin – Bar owner and consultant, Gerwin is the first female and first American to win the esteemed International Bols Around the World Competition.
  • Pam Wiznitzer – One of America’s top female mixologists.
  • Gaz Regan – Author of ‘The Cocktailian,” a regular column, for The San Francisco Chronicle from 2001 to 2014.
  • Don Lee – Cocktail world’s man behind the curtain and the cocktail world’s only true renaissance man according to
  • Eric Seed – Founder and Principal of Haus Alpenz, an importer, distributor and brand manager for a wide range of wines and spirit.

For more information about the annual Paris of the Plains Cocktail Festival, check out the website at or on social media at @PoPFestKC @gkcbc and @visitkc.


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