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.
Tom Pendergast comes to Kansas City to work at his brother’s saloon and make his place in the city.
Pendergast joins with two gambling buddies to found the T. J. Pendergast Wholesale Liquor Company.
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.
Kansas City becomes known as “Tom’s Town” because of Pendergast’s growing political control and influence.
Tom Pendergast chooses Harry S. Truman, a downtown haberdasher, to run for a post on the administrative court of Jackson County. Truman wins.
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.
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.
Under “Home Rule,” Pendergast controls the police force. He replaces
Republicans and Democratic “rabbits” with machine-friendly friendly “goats.”
On Dec. 5, the nation repeals Prohibition.
With strong support from Pendergast, Jackson County Presiding Judge Harry S. Truman wins a seat in the U.S. Senate.
Election-day disputes among political factions lead to four slayings on March 27.
Unknown assailants murder Johnny Lazia, the chief of Kansas City’s underworld.
Pendergast Goats drove rival Rabbit liquor brands out of business – including Herman Epstein’s Rickenbacker Malt.
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.’”
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.
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.”
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.
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.
USA Today names Tom’s Town the Best Craft Vodka Distillery in the US. All four Tom’s Town spirits win multiple industry awards.
The People Are Thirsty! Tom’s Town expands distribution in its quest to become an emerging national brand.