Written By Shanna DiPaolo Photographed by Aaron Lindberg
It’s 8 o’clock on Saturday night, and business at The Drop is picking up. “I have a large party coming in about 45 minutes,” says waitress Bridget Meinhardt. “Can I seat you at a table in the front?” The two-person tables at the front of The Drop are next to large floor-to-ceiling windows that face 31st Street. The three other establishments that, along with The Drop, make up Martini Corner are easily visible, and the people-watching is excellent. Couples and groups are embarking on their first round of the night, and soon Martini Corner is buzzing with activity. Since opening two years ago, The Drop has evolved from a great bar into a restaurant that also happens to have great drinks. At least that’s how owner Eddie Crane sees it. “When we opened, we were drawing from our bar-industry experience,” he says. “The concept’s shifted in the last two years. When we opened, everyone was drinking, but now we have a larger crowd for dinner.” Crane opened The Drop with Ernesto Peralta in 2006. After working as a bartender for Morton’s and opening The Capital Grille’s Las Vegas location, Crane says he felt it was time to open his own business. “I learned the industry working for corporate restaurants, but they didn’t allow for much creativity and flexibility. That was one thing I always yearned for,” he says.
With a background in bartending, Crane desired his restaurant be known for specialty martinis and a solid beer list. He wanted the food to be worthy of the unique drinks. “The idea was to have a menu that was upscale, unique, and social. I call it European bar food. It’s casual cuisine, but not typical bar-and-grill fare,” Crane says. Chef Josh Eans developed the menu, creating the popular and widely acclaimed bruschetta, grilled slices of ciabatta bread piled high with fresh ingredients such as salmon, peppers, and cheeses. “Once Josh took the concept of the bruschetta and ran with it as far as he did, we started to be known as strongly as a restaurant as we were as a bar,” Crane says. Meinhardt brings the menus. “Let me know if I can answer any questions,” she says, turning to check on other tables. The restaurant is now about three-fourths full, with couples seated near the front of the restaurant and groups of four or five congregating around high tables and the bar. Most seem to be sipping one of the 13 specialty martinis and snacking on something light. Chef Eric Carter is now the man behind the menu—Chef Eans is at Blanc, the restaurant Crane and Peralta opened in Westport and Peralta will continue to operate. “I had a lot of fun putting [Blanc] together, and I look forward to watching it succeed,” Crane says. His focus is now entirely on The Drop.
In addition to martinis, The Drop has a wide offering of beers and an expertly chosen wine list. The seasonal, rotating food menu offers a selection of appetizers, bruschetta, and paninis, with a limited number of small plate options. All of the ingredients are fresh, and marinades and sauces are made in-house. Carter has already started to update the menu, and more additions are on the way. Most notably, the men plan to add several more seasonal small plate options for dinner. “Chef Eric is taking what we’re already known for and innovating, putting his own mark on it,” Crane says. “He’s preserved our legacy while building on it.” Edible cocktails are another unique innovation— small, molded gelatin shapes infused with liquor and fruit served up by The Drop’s bartenders. Crane’s also planning a Miracle Fruit cocktail, made with African berries that change the tongue’s sense
of taste. Made from lemon, balsamic vinegar, and vodka, the usually bitter combination tastes sweet after the Miracle Fruit has taken affect. “No one that I could find was making a cocktail out of it,” he says. The small plates, edible cocktails, and Miracle Fruit are all part of Crane’s vision to see The Drop compete with restaurants in places such as New York, Los Angeles, and London. “Five years ago, things had to hit New York or LA and slowly make their way to us. Now I can read about something they’re doing in London and do it here tomorrow,” he says. “I want The Drop to be known as the—capital letters, triple underline, circled—cutting-edge restaurant on a global scale where you can come try something no one else has ever thought of.” The large party that Meinhardt mentioned has arrived, and the restaurant is busy with people talking over rock music and relaxing in the casualyet-sophisticated atmosphere. Many are regulars, returning to The Drop because they love the creative drinks and cuisine. “I’ve seen almost all of these people in here before,” Meinhardt says. If Crane wants The Drop to be known as the go-to spot for innovation, judging by the crowd, it looks like he’s well on his way—at least in Kansas City. For more information, visit www.thedropbar. com.