The English-Speaking Union

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Storied & Scandalous Kansas City—A History of Corruption, Mischief, and a Whole lot of Booze

Friday, May 21 from 6:00-7:00 PM (EDT)
Guest Speaker: Karla Deel

Our Final Season 2 Happy Hour guest speaker is author and publisher Karla Deel. Her book, "Storied & Scandalous Kansas City—A History of Corruption, Mischief and a Whole Lot of Booze," is an in-depth account of how Kansas City operated in its early days with mobsters, bootleggers, madams, political bosses, and raucous entertainers who truly brought the party to the plains even during Prohibition.

When the ESU Kansas City Branch was founded in 1920, Kansas City was one notorious and scandal-ridden town. Karla will tell the storied history of Kansas City—the Paris of the Plains. You'll witness the best parades, the wackiest costumes, and the wildest scams. Kansas City's sordid underbelly is full of surprises sure to delight and entice—the odd, macabre, and delightful.

Don't miss this behind-the-scenes look at Kansas City in its early days. We will have a door prize drawing for her book, "Storied & Scandalous Kansas City."

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Karla Deel

Karla Deel lives and works as a writer, poet, researcher and freelancer in Kansas City, Mo. She has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Media Arts from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. In November 2019 she published her first book, Storied & Scandalous Kansas City, a History of Corruption Mischief, and a Whole Lot of Booze (Globe Pequot Press). She was a member of the 2020 Kansas City Artist INC cohort. Deel also serves on the Jackson County Historical Society board, works in communications for the Friends of the Kansas City Public Library, and volunteers for several local nonprofits. In February 2021, she attended a month-long competitive writer's residency in the outskirts of Oaxaca, Mexico to work on her next book. In her spare time, you can find her reading, practicing Kundalini yoga, enjoying good food and wine, or making mischief with her feisty teenage daughter, Salem.

Signature Cocktail

For this Happy Hour, Karla  has selected The Champagne Cocktail—a classic drink that's festive and elegant, perfect for celebration. The sugar cube makes it sparkle!

  • 1 sugar cube
  • 5 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Squeezed lemon peel
  • 1 glass champagne (10 tablespoons)
  • For the garnish: Lemon twist


  1. Make the lemon twist garnish, if using.
  2. Add a sugar cube to bottom of a champagne flute. Add 5 dashes of bitters to the sugar cube. Use a vegetable peeler to peel off a small strip of lemon skin. Squeeze the lemon skin into the flute to release the oils.
  3. Fill the glass with champagne and serve immediately: Watch how the sugar cube makes the bubbles sparkle! Garnish with a lemon twist if desired.
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