My family surprised my sister, Jenna, for her 30th birthday last night. We took her on a wild adventure through downtown Kansas City. Jenna’s closest friends and family raised a glass or two or ten in honor of Jenna’s 30 years of life.
One of the stops on our bar-hopping agenda was Manifesto.
Manifesto is a cocktail bar in the basement of the former hotel, The Rieger. Today, The Rieger is a popular restaurant in Kansas City. Condos make up the upper floors.
The Rieger was built in 1915. It was owned by Alexander Rieger. Alexander’s father founded J. Rieger and Co. Whiskey in 1887. It was one of the largest whiskey empires in the country. Prohibition shut the hotel down in 1919.
It wasn’t a secret what ties the hotel had with whiskey. After all, the hotel sat in the middle of what was once called “the wettest block in the world.” Its close proximity to Kansas City’s Union Station made it appealing to traveling salesmen, railroad workers and visitors. But those weren’t the only people staying at The Rieger. The basement of The Rieger operated as a speakeasy during the Prohibition. Today, Manifesto’s entrance is not marked. It still sits hidden in the basement of The Rieger.
The walls of Manifesto heard the infamous voices that made up the prohibition era. The voices of cash deals and corrupted governments. The voices belonging to the black and white photos of the men in the history books with their fedoras, pin-striped suits, and machine guns. Those voices, slurred by whiskey perhaps – were from the mouths of Pretty Boy Floyd, Machine Gun Kelly, Tom Pendergast, and Al Capone.
As a born-Kansas Citian, I am a whiskey lover. I have an appreciation for a cocktail made with whiskey. Whiskey is not easily hidden like vodka. It has a distinct taste. A taste that dates back to the Prohibition.
Whiskey also makes you pee a lot – not to say vodka or tequila won’t.
Whiskey made Al Capone pee. The Chicago-based mob boss, nicknamed Scarface, pissed at Manifesto in Kansas City. I stood where Al Capone stood. I imagined Al Capone relieving himself so many years before me.
A historic moment in time. Al Capone pissed here.
I broke all barriers and went into the men’s restroom at Manifesto. I took a chance at getting kicked out. A woman where only a man should be. A woman at a urinal. A urinal that’s still in use by the men of Kansas City.
A urinal that saw the genitalia of the organized crime boss and brains behind the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in Chicago – Mr. Al Capone.
How did Al Capone leave this earth? It wasn’t in Kansas City. It wasn’t at Alcatraz either. It was in Florida. He didn’t die from a machine gun. He died from cardiac arrest on January 21, 1947. His mental capacity was that of a 12-year-old boy because he suffered from paresis, a mental disorder, caused by late stage syphilis.
Syphilis is a sexual transmitted infection. It’s passed by the genitals.
Al Capone essentially died from syphilis and gonorrhea.
Al Capone damn near gave me an STD.
And don’t forget to buy my book, “But Did You Die?”