Ryan Maybee’s first foray into hospitality was bartending at the Kansas City, Missouri fine-dining restaurant Pierpont’s in 1999 when he was 21 years old and paying his way through community college. “It took maybe two years for me to realize that I was really good at bartending and I also really loved it,” he says. “I decided then that I wanted to run my own bar one day.” So Maybee shifted his focus in school to business and in 2006, at just 28 years old, he achieved his goal and opened JP Wine Bar & Coffee House.
But Maybee soon discovered that he wanted more than a wine bar. “I was already really into classic cocktails, but it was a visit to the New York City craft cocktail bar Milk & Honey in 2006 that ultimately changed my life,” he says. “I immediately knew I wanted to open a bar like that.” That bar ended up being Manifesto, which opened in 2009 and quickly became a major cocktail destination in Kansas City. Maybee didn’t stop there: in 2014, he cofounded J. Rieger & Co. distillery, a revival of the historic Jacob Rieger & Company distillery that ran from 1887 to 1919. And since Manifesto closed during the pandemic, Maybee’s focus has shifted to The Hey! Hey! Club, a speakeasy bar he opened in the basement of J. Rieger & Co. in 2019.
“The Hey! Hey! Club was a natural evolution from Manifesto and it’s very similar in style,” Maybee says. “I believe in taking a classic approach to cocktails, building off of something that’s tried-and-true, while also being creative and introducing new flavors and ingredients.” Although Maybee himself doesn’t bartend much anymore, he has clear influence over the cocktail menu (drinks are $12-$15) as he guides his team to make unique, classically inspired, craft cocktails, such as national beverage director Andrew Olsen’s Flintlock ($15; recipe below) and bartender Derek Branham’s Mochila ($13; recipe below). “We enjoy making beautiful, delicious drinks that tell a story and surprise people,” Maybee adds. “Anything to make guests smile and toy with their perceptions of what a craft cocktail bar really is.”