Jacob Rieger opened the J. Rieger & Co. whiskey distributorship in 1887 in Kansas City's West Bottoms. Fortunately for the distillery, in 1881, the state of Kansas became the first state to outlaw the sale and consumption of alcohol. The West Bottoms neighborhood, which primarily falls on the Missouri side of the state line, quickly became known as "The Wettest Block in the World", as everyone would cross the state line to drink, dance, gamble and revel. This unique scenario allowed J. Rieger & Co. became one of the largest whiskey distributors in the country.
Whiskey and spirits, while they had their opponents, were still widely considered medicinal and were commonly prescribed by doctors to cure common ailments. J. Rieger & Co. thrived, shipping whiskey, brandy and other liqueurs all over the country. The Company was so successful that Jacob's son, Alexander, was able to build and open the Rieger Hotel in 1915.
The magnificent Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange restaurant currently operates in the original lobby while the second and third floors are consumed by residences. The original tile floor still graces the restaurant with the an "R" shield. In addition, the South side of the building is a formerly fainted, but recently repainted advertisement for the world's best whiskey. A 20-foot bottle encompasses the exterior wall with the slogan, "O! So Good".
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