Free flowing alcohol and a vibrant nightlife attracted both the criminal and creatives to Kansas City during prohibition. Over a hundred jazz speakeasies colored the city with all-night jam sessions, while black-market liquor sales fueled the mob machine ruled by influential politician Tom Pendergast. The town’s reputation was solidified in 1938 when Edward Morrow wrote in the Omaha Herald, “If you want to see some sin, forget Paris and go to Kansas City.”
Fast forward to three working bartenders aiming to shed light on Kansas City drink culture.
Founders Doug Frost, Ryan Maybee, and Brandon Cummins saw a burgeoning food and drink scene and thought to themselves, why not corner all of the local talent in one room and have them compete in a bartending competition? After seeing the buzz and enthusiasm the competition created, the trio desired to offer more than just a competition. They wanted to offer a higher level of education to local bar professionals; in turn the Paris of the Plains Cocktail Festival (aka PoPFest) launched in 2012.
During the 2014 festival, Scott Tipton created a program called PoPs (Purveyors of Potables). The PoPs team coordinates with presenters and planners to batch and serve thousands of cocktails and spirits poured in the duration of the festival. Berto Santoro worked logistics & operations to ensure each cocktail batch made it safely to their destination. The festival is now organized by a small group of industry vets lead by Scott and Berto and several dedicated and passionate volunteers, fully realizing the founders' dreams of it being managed by the community it was created for.
PoPfest is a multi-day educational and entertainment spectacular highlighting talented bartenders of the midwest alongside world-class industry leaders. It celebrates both the Midwest’s exploding cocktail culture and the history, hospitality, food, and Jazz that Kansas Citians celebrate with pride.