The Ship is one of several magical places in Kansas City. This West Bottoms cocktail lounge has a storied history that dates back to 1935, when it was located at 411 East 10th Street. I remember going to the original Ship in the early Nineties shortly before it was decommissioned. The full story of its past and present is one worth reading. I won’t recount it here except to acknowledge the roles of Adam Jones, Bob Asher (pictured below) and Josh Mobley in preserving and resurrecting many of the original fixtures to ultimately reconstruct this timeless lounge.
In its early years since 2004, the modern Ship was a secret destination for artists, musicians and West Bottoms dwellers just as much as the original space remains a legend for those that entered its nautical confines. Nothing stays secret for long in the small town-big city of Kansas City.
The Ship is alive and well as people from all walks of life hang out for drinks. Depending on the night, a crowded house dances to the sounds of soul as Superwolf or Fat Sal spin records, or groove to bands like The Grisly Hand or the Dirty Force Brass Band, a legend in their own right.
My favorite moments at The Ship, which are more rare than I care to admit, are when it isn’t packed. There’s time to watch the bartender banter with customers, settle into a spot at the bar without elbowing other patrons and simply take in the history and quiet grandeur of the space. More often than not, I’ll run into an old friend or acquaintance. The low lights and nautical decor both transport me to a distant place and remind me that The Ship exists as part of Kansas City’s ongoing history.
It’s magic to me.
Sign up for a weekly dose of inspiration.
Get links to new stories and photos on food, craft beer and adventures delivered to your inbox every week.