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From the old classics to “interactive” cocktails — and don't forget mocktails — there’s a drink for everyone in KC.

Whether you like your drinks fancy (made with local spirits, fresh herbs and juices and more) or something more simple (usually involving just one type of liquor), KCUR's Food Critics searched out the best cocktails in and around Kansas City in our annual look at libations.

Here are their recommendations:

Mary Bloch, Around the Block:

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When he was 4 years old, Ed Dwight built an airplane out of orange crates from Safeway in the backyard of his house in Kansas City, Kansas.

But while growing up in a segregated Kansas City in the 1930s and 1940s, he never dreamed that he could be an airplane pilot.

And he certainly didn't think he'd be the first African-American to train as an astronaut for NASA.

But then, a local newspaper changed the course of his life.

http://www.foxmovies.com/movies/hidden-figures

John F. Kennedy had a dream of sending a white man, a black man and an Asian to the moon. Ed Dwight, a KCK native, came close to being the black man on that mission.

Inspired by the upcoming film, Hidden Figures, we hear his story. Plus, a chat with a molecular biologist and our film critics.

Guests:

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Kansas City may be known more as a college basketball town these days, but two NBA head coaches with Kansas City ties, Cleveland’s Tyronn Lue and Phoenix’s Earl Watson, will make history when their teams face each other on Sunday.

Last June, the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA championship and set off a celebration in that city. At the same time, Cavs coach Tyronn Lue, a graduate of Raytown High School, couldn’t pry himself from the bench. He sat with his face buried in his hands.

Sobbing.

Kansas City, Kansas, Police

The man who killed Kansas City, Kansas, Police Detective Brad Lancaster in May 2016 pleaded guilty Tuesday.

In addition to capital murder, Curtis Ayers pleaded guilty to nine other counts in a crime spree that began when he shot 39-year-old Lancaster outside the Hollywood Casino May 9.

Ayers still faces charges in Leavenworth County, Kansas, and Jackson County, Missouri, where he was apprehended after a long chase.

Meet the KCK native who is the resident playwright at the KC Rep and one of the writers for "Marvel's Luke Cage" on Netflix.

Guest:

In Kansas City, there is a connection between where people live and the economic realities of their lives. Today, we air a conversation hosted by American Public Square that looks to understand how poverty, race and place interact to affect the people who live in urban neighborhoods. 

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

First, a recollection of the Chief's overtime victory over the Broncos Sunday night. Then, a look at an agency that settled a case last month involving charges of illegal kickback payments, but is still doing business with the state of Kansas. Finally, Author Candice Millard recounts the adventures of a young Winston Churchill as detailed in her latest book.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Except for the chain of events it spurred in the victim's life, the assault and robbery of Brad Grabs 14 years ago in the Northeast neighborhood of Kansas City, Kansas, would not have been particularly notable.

Despite the ensuing anger and fear, Grabs says prayer and reflection on the events of that Sunday afternoon led him to believe his assaulters weren’t “bad kids,” he told KCUR’s Brian Ellison on a recent episode of Up To Date. They were youngsters caught in a bad situation with little opportunity for positive growth.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

Schlitterbahn will tear down the world's tallest water slide after the investigation into a 10-year-old Kansas boy's death is complete.

Verrückt has been closed since Caleb Schwab died while riding it on Aug. 7. 

In a statement, spokeswoman Winter Prosapio said the Henry family, which owns Schlitterbahn, was "heartbroken" by what happened at its Kansas City, Kansas, water park:

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

After being mugged by two teenagers, one educator sought understanding instead of revenge, and founded The Learning Club of KCK, which tutors at-risk children in the neighborhoods where they live. Then, the 2016 elections were kind to marijuana, just not in Missouri. Advocate groups NORML KC and New Approach Missouri are looking to change that.

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Small businesses have an increasing chance at surviving their first 5 years in Kansas City, but overall business ownership hasn't increased, according to a new report from the Kauffman Foundation

The Main Street Entrepreneurship Index measures established small business activity — that’s businesses five years and older, with fewer than 50 employees. 

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Seasoned ground beef, lettuce and shredded cheese in a crunchy shell. Or braised and shredded pork wrapped in a soft corn or flour tortilla and topped with cilantro, diced onions and salsa. Whichever kind you grew up on, there's a taco for everyone in KC.

On KCUR's Central Standard, our Food Critics searched out the best tacos in and around Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

Mary Bloch, Around the Block:

The hard-shell taco as comfort food at beloved local institutions In-A-Tub and Taco Via, then the executive chef of a Mexican fusion restaurant on putting new twists on traditional recipes and ingredients.

Plus, KCUR's Food Critics search out the best tacos in and around KC.

Guests:

On this Election Day, we hear from listeners about their experiences at the polls. Then, learn how Electionland is bringing together a team of media outlets, including KCUR, in a collaborative effort to inform you on the latest voting issues and problems.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

Before Allen Stallings started work in a NASCAR pit crew he was a linebacker for Greensboro College in North Carolina. The transition from the playing field to the race track is becoming more common. In fact, NASCAR is recruiting former college athletes for these high pressure jobs.

Stallings and the other race teams on the NASCAR circuit stopped at the Kansas Speedway over the weekend for the Hollywood Casino 400.

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There’s a pizza for everyone, from the picky toddler to the late-night reveler and the sophisticated gourmand.

From wood-fired to deep-dish, you can go traditional or dress it up with fancy toppings like fig jam. Get enough for a crowd or order individual pies that are made from scratch and baked in front of you.

On Central Standard’s annual pizza show, our Food Critics searched out the best pizza in and around Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

This story first appeared on KCUR's Question Quest. You can find the episode here or wherever you download podcasts.

Just about every city has "that store." The one that just can't seem to find its footing for very long. One year it's a seedy liquor store, the next, a themed restaurant, the next, a sleepy book store.

In this episode, Cody dives into a strange mix of karaoke, theater nerdery and artist subcultures to find out what happened to an odd roadhouse bar in Kansas City, Kansas.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

When Paul Dorrell opened an art gallery 25 years ago, people told him he was crazy for representing only Missouri and Kansas artists.

"Everybody thought I was out of my mind," Dorrell says. "That it was a sure road to bankruptcy, that nobody would ever care about Kansas and Missouri artists, that Kansas City and the Midwest in general were a lost cause culturally, so why bother?"

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The latest indicators of Kansas City’s economic growth aren’t bad — they're just ... disappointing.

That’s the reaction from the Mid-America Regional Council to the newest metro-level GDP numbers for Kansas City.

Between 2014 and 2015, Kansas City’s economy grew 1.5 percent. Jeff Pinkerton, senior researcher at MARC, was a little surprised by that number.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Out in Kansas City, Kansas, just off I-70, across from an automotive plant, there's a little blue shack. Above the nondescript, but distinctive building, a sign reads "Jarocho Mariscos y Algo Mas."

Yes, on Kansas Avenue, in the landlocked heart of the United States, you’ll find the smells and tastes of the Gulf of Mexico. And soon, you'll find the same out in South Kansas City.

When Jarocho owner Carlos Falcon first moved to Kansas City 20 years ago, he was surprised to find very few seafood options.

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In an effort to take advantage of expanding local government data capabilities, the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, has hired Alan Howze to fill a new position — chief knowledge officer. The role merges public service, government efficiency, and transparency, several things he is passionate about, Howze said in a Facebook post.

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It’s a misconception that we can’t get access to fresh seafood here in the landlocked Midwest.

Locally, we can get catfish, trout and now shrimp grown in Oak Grove, Missouri. And fish wholesalers bring seafood from far-away oceans to KC.

The Unified Government of Wyandotte County

Kansas City, Kansas, Mayor Mark Holland  apologized to relatives Thursday night for statements he made following the death of Kansas City, Kansas, police Capt. Dave Melton.

“I want to publicly reiterate my apology to them for the timing of my remarks during the press conference following the death of their brother, Captain Dave Melton,” Holland said at a meeting of the United Government Board of Commissioners.

After the meeting ended, Holland went down on the floor and met with Melton’s family to offer a copy of the statement read at the meeting.

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Before John McLendon died in 1999 at the age of 84, he knew he was already a part of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a contributor in the 1979 class. But in this year’s class, which includes Shaquille O’Neal, he was honored among the greatest as a coach.

As fortunate as I was to record a 21-minute interview with McLendon in 1998, while attending a luncheon in conjunction with the NAIA men’s basketball tournament, I could have spent hours listening to someone as humble as he about his achievements.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

Pull into the Arrowhead Stadium parking lot for a Kansas City Chiefs game and what do you notice? Besides the plume of smoke from the barbeque grills, you can’t miss the sea of red. Not only do fans wear the colors, more tailgate vehicles display them.

And, in recent years, more old school buses are converted into party buses. 

As time ran short before the Chiefs pre-season opener against Seattle on Aug. 13, Dallas Kidd and his co-workers used 30 cans of spray paint to transform a small, old yellow school bus into a party vehicle for Chiefs games.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

When 10-year-old Caleb Schwab was killed earlier this month while riding the Verrückt waterslide in Kansas City, Kansas, it turned out that neither the state of Kansas nor the federal government had ever inspected it for safety. The accident has sparked a national debate on amusement park regulation.

Two years ago, there was lots of fanfare when the 17-story Verrückt went up at Schlitterbahn water park — in part because it seemed so dangerous. A video broadcast on Good Morning America showed test rafts with sandbag dummies sailing off an early version of the ride. 

Charlie Parker was born on Aug. 29, 1920. For three years now, Kansas City jazz organizations have marked his birthday week with a Charlie Parker Celebration, trying to increase hometown appreciation for the influential jazz saxophonist.

KCUR 89.3

Think we would all get along better if we lived under one flag – from Olathe to Leavenworth, Liberty to Grandview?

Some young Kansas City-metro entrepreneurs do.

Thirty-three year old Graham Ripple and some of his buddies have started a website – OneFlag.co — to raise funds and solicit designs for a banner that every municipality in the metro could fly — one flag that would represent all 14 counties in the Kansas City Region.

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