I didn’t want to like North, in Leawood. It’s a chain concept. It doesn’t take reservations, so the wait for a table can be an hour or more. But there we were, settling into the bar for a drink on a recent Saturday night. There are only six cocktails on the list, but our bartender clearly could have made anything we wanted. I stuck to the house offerings, choosing the Succo di Bacca, a $10 concoction with 10 Cane rum, fresh strawberries, lemon juice, fennel syrup and a top-up of Moscato d’Asti served over ice in a Collins glass. It was the fennel syrup that got me. Fennel’s a kitchen darling these days—roasted bulbs, a sprinkling of chopped fronds, a dusting of pollen…chefs love playing with all the parts. Fresh fennel does have the faintest hint of licorice to it, and it’s often mislabeled anise. So, anise is what came to mind when I saw fennel syrup in the drink’s description. Pastis like Pernod, absinthe and other anise-flavored liqueurs are intense and don’t always play nicely with other flavors, but there was no comparison here. North tosses fennel seeds with lemon and orange zest, roasts the mixture and then steeps it in hot water. The resulting syrup delivered just the right herbaceous complexity. Very likable indeed.