ABOUT TOM'S TOWN

We named Tom’s Town Distilling Co. after the country’s most corrupt political boss, Tom Pendergast. Pendergast started as a saloon keeper and the founder of a wholesale liquor company.

Under Tom, Kansas City ignored Prohibition and emerged as the “Paris of the Plains.” Money, jazz, and spirits flowed in the open. When asked how he justified ignoring Prohibition, Pendergast quipped, “The people are thirsty.”

Today the people are still thirsty. Tom’s Town satisfies that thirst by producing premium craft spirits. You can taste our high standards and attention to detail in every sip of the gin, vodka, and bourbon we make.

ABOUT TOM'S TOWN

1889

Tom Pendergast comes to Kansas City to work at his brother’s saloon and make his place in the city. 

1889

Harry S. Truman Library

1911

Pendergast joins with two gambling buddies to found the T. J. Pendergast Wholesale Liquor Company.

1911

State Historical Society of Missouri

1920

The U.S. Government enacts the 18th Amendment on Jan. 16, prohibiting manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors. It’s the best day of Tom Pendergast’s life.

1920

Missouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Missouri

1921

Kansas City becomes known as “Tom’s Town” because of Pendergast’s growing political control and influence.

1921

1922

Tom Pendergast chooses Harry S. Truman, a downtown haberdasher, to run for a post on the administrative court of Jackson County. Truman wins.

1922

Harry S. Truman Library

1925

A movement succeeds to reshape city government, creating weak mayor, and a powerful city manager. Pendergast co-opts enough power to name Henry McElroy city manager.

1925

Missouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Missouri

1927

Tom Pendergast’s office, known as the “Jackson Democratic Club,” was on the second floor of this two-story building at 1908 Main, just blocks from the current Tom’s Town Distillery.

1927

Missouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Missouri

1932

Under “Home Rule,” Pendergast controls the police force. He replaces
Republicans and Democratic “rabbits” with machine-friendly friendly “goats.”

1932

Missouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Missouri

1933

On Dec. 5, the nation repeals Prohibition.

1933

La Budde Special Collections, UMKC Archives

1934

With strong support from Pendergast, Jackson County Presiding Judge Harry S. Truman wins a seat in the U.S. Senate.

1934

Harry S. Truman Library

1934

Election-day disputes among political factions lead to four slayings on March 27.

1934

1934

Unknown assailants murder Johnny Lazia, the chief of Kansas City’s underworld.

1934

Kansas City Museum Archives

1934

Pendergast Goats drove rival Rabbit liquor brands out of business – including Herman Epstein’s Rickenbacker Malt.

1934

1935

According to KC’s Future newsweekly, “there are more nightclubs in Kansas City per capita than in any other city. Three hundred or more clubs, saloons, hotels, joints and dives – a numerically impressive collection – gives Kansas City its reputation as a ‘hot, wide open town.’”

1935

Missouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Missouri

1939

US Attorney Maurice Milligan forces Pendergast to plead guilty to income-tax
evasion. The judge sentences He is sentenced to 15 months in the federal prison at Leavenworth, halting his political machine.

1939

Maurice M. Milligan, Missouri Waltz, 1948

1940

After reformers take over, many residents missed the way Kansas City was. The downtown slot machines were trucked away. The jazz clubs lost their crowds. The cleanly operated city was no longer “Tom’s Town.”

1940

2015

Inspired by family connections and a love of drinking, Steve Revare and David Epstein found Tom’s Town Distilling Co. Steve’s great uncle was Maurice Milligan, the attorney who sent Pendergast to prison, and David’s grandfather was Herman Epstein, a rival “rabbit” bootlegger to Pendergast.

2015

2016

Tom’s Town opens to the public and begins distribution across the states of
Missouri and Kansas, bringing the party back to Tom’s Town.

2016

2017

USA Today names Tom’s Town the Best Craft Vodka Distillery in the US. All four Tom’s Town spirits win multiple industry awards.

2017

2018

The People Are Thirsty! Tom’s Town expands distribution in its quest to become an emerging national brand.

2018