Category Archives: BOURBON

Drinks At Bird In Westfield, N.Y.

Saturday was a gorgeous day in Western New York and I spent a portion of my afternoon at Bird in Westfield, N.Y.

Bird is located on the back porch at Five & 20 Spirits & Brewing in Westfield and has ties with 1201 Kitchen in Erie, Pa.

The venue itself is a walk-up, open-air kitchen & service counter/bar situated under the spacious pavilion on Five & 20’s back patio.

On Saturday there were two cocktails advertised at the back bar. I’m not sure whether drinks are limited to the daily specialty cocktails Bird creates or whether simple drinks like whiskey & ginger ale can be purchased, but I was there for their suggested beverages anyway and didn’t even think to inquire.

Saturday’s Cocktail Offerings

Buffalo Negra 

Gentleman Johnson


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Customer Appreciation Post — Widow Jane Manhattan

A photo from New Year’s Day:


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Customer Appreciation Post — Boulevardier

A Boulevardier that I made a friend last night:

Gin is good, but sometimes you just gotta have bourbon!

From a New York Times article by Tony Cecchini:

The drink is credited to Harry McElhone, the founder and proprietor of Harry’s New York Bar in Paris, and dated to 1927. It is mentioned only glancingly in his book “Barflies and Cocktails,” not in the 300-odd cocktail recipes that make up the bulk of that volume, but rather in a tongue-in-cheek epilogue that follows, recounting the antics of his regular customers.

Cecchini continues on to talk about Erskinne Gwynne, McElhone’s customer who created the drink — and the article gives the history of Gwynne’s version and McElhone’s version and modern twists by present day bartenders. It’s a worthwhile read.

Further Reading:

—A write-up by Serious Eats.
—Imbibe Magazine’s recipe.
—Don’t call it a comeback.
—The recipe on Difford’s Guide.
—The Boulevardier and another drink called the 1794 Cocktail!

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Comics & Cocktails #6 • Dottie Quinn/The Fade Out

Dottie Quinn and The Fade Out

Issue number 10 of “The Fade Out” recently hit comic shop shelves — and the book sets up pretty much all the pieces for the big conclusion coming in the final two issues.

Since debuting some many months back, every time an issue of “The Fade Out” arrives, I want to frame the comic for its cover alone.

For this month’s cover, one of the secondary characters, a gal named Dottie Quinn, was featured. 

Dottie does PR for the movie studio where the story is set, and has a personal and professional relationship with the main character.

Dottie Quinn

As a fan of comics and detective fiction, I have a great love for this hard-boiled era in which “The Fade Out” is set. And as a professional bartender, I’ve also got a great love of the pre-prohibition and post-prohibition eras and all the the drinks which were created in those years.

So in honor of the comic and the character Dottie Quinn, I put together an original cocktail recently which felt like a throwback — bourbon, coffee liqueur, banana liqueur, Grand Marnier & orange bitters. And I garnished it with a banana chip. 


It’s sort of a blend between a “Talent Scout and a “Revolver,” but with the timing and arrival of this new issue of “The Fade Out,” I figured I better call it a Dottie Quinn — sweet and strong, with a stiff bitter side that’s not overwhelming but is surprisingly balanced and complex.


This series is one of the best comic books being published right now.

Written and drawn by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, respectively, “The Fade Out” is published by Image Comics and set in post-World War II Hollywood. My podcast buddy Jason Sample has compared the comic to the film “L.A. Confidential” and that comparison is right on the mark. This book is noir done write — written and drawn by two guys who’ve proven themselves to masters of this genre.

Brubaker and Phillips are well known for tackling not only this era, but the gritty pulp world— with the series “Fatale” being just one example.

“The Fade Out” started as a murder mystery, with an actress’s death covered up as a suicide in issue number one. It has since evolved into a scandal so large in this pseudo-real Hollywood setting that our two main protagonists don’t even care if they solve the case, they just want to go down swinging and maybe make enough noise that it’ll draw some attention to the crime.

Our main character in the book is the scriptwriter for the movie being shot in the comic, and after coming across the corpse of the actress, he removed himself from the situation and then read in the newspapers the next day that it was a suicide — but he knows better.

Someone in his studio covered up the crime, and rearranged the crime scene to look like a suicide. 

Now that we’re 10 issues in, he and his fellow writer, who’s been made aware of the crime, are on the warpath. They’ve discovered an even deeper issue below the murder of this one, individual actress — and they mean to expose it.

“The Fade Out” is a great little story that’s really taking its time to develop. Brubaker and Phillips immerse the reader in this sleazy Hollywood era and spend each of the first few issues introducing us to more and more players in the story. The middle set of books in the series really catapult the story forward and now I can’t wait for the final issues to bring it all to a head.

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Drinks At Brazill’s

Last night I had dinner and drinks at Brazill’s on Main in Westfield, N.Y.

It was my second time at the restaurant, and it was as great an experience as my first visit — if not better.

I had a rye Manhattan to start:

I also had a bourbon & cider drink:

Even though it’s within Chautauqua County, Brazill’s is a bit of a hike from Jamestown — and I don’t get there often enough because the place is open the same hours as when I’m usually working at my restaurant.

Last night was a bit of a surprise night off though, and I tried to make the most of it.

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Pappy Van Winkle At Circa 81

I didn’t get this bartender’s name, but she posed with her restaurant’s bottle of Pappy Van Winkle for me:


On Thursday my family and I dined at Circa 81 in Morehead City.

The restaurant does tapas plates and calls itself a “Cocktaileria” — which is the first time I’d ever heard of such a thing.

The food was good. I had the chorizo black bean soup, a beet salad with chicken and also a shaved prime rib dish served on crostini with a lite horseradish flavor.

That quick recap doesn’t do the food any real justice, so I’ll post photos and copy from the menu below:


Chorizo black bean soup


And I also had this salad, which had a lot of interesting flavors going on:

Bibb lettuce with beets, chevre, sunflower kernels, radish, pear and a cinnamon pear balsamic vinaigrette.


Circa 81’s “Bibb Salad.”

Overall, I really enjoyed my evening here. Since my family and I were on vacation, we’d sort of been snacking all day — and as a result, we weren’t really looking for full, heavy entrees. The tapas-style focus of this restaurant was sort of perfect for us in that regard. We shared a number of different small plates and several of us got cups of soup and then there was also two different styles of homemade cheesecake which we had for dessert.

Oh, and I had a Basil Hayden neat, a Scrimshaw Pilsner and a B&B for dessert.

If I’m ever hear again on vacation (which I intend to be next summer, this place will be the third in my Top 3 to return to — the others being Arendell Room and Amos Mosquito’s).

Last but not least, the Pappy Van Winkle 23 year was $70 for a 2 oz pour.


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We Call It… The Banana Gun!

This drink was a surprise stroke of genius that came as a result of a little back-and-forth with a customer.

Most times, as a bartender, I’ve got a couple different drinks on my mind in case anyone wants something but doesn’t know what they want. When someone wants me to pick for them and surprise them with something, I’ll still work with ’em to either direct ’em to a classic or one of the slate of drinks I’m holding onto in my brain — I’ll ask a couple of questions and try to read ’em and make sure they get a drink they’re going to like.

Then there are those moments when a little back-and-forth banter leads to a collaboration you would’ve never thought of on your own — which happened to me Tuesday night. 

I’d served a friend a Manhattan after his dinner and then we were discussing where to go next. The idea of rum was raised and the possibility of a banana daiquiri was discussed, but then I brought up the Revolver.

The Revolver is a bourbon drink with coffee liqueur and orange bitters. It’s a simple three-ingredient cocktail, but it’s surprisingly easy for essentially being all booze.

And as I explained all this, my friend nodded in agreement and then said something like: “Yes, but banana.”

So, into the drink went banana rum — which definitely made a sort of sense. I mean, the coffee liqueur we were using in the drink was Kahlua, which is a rum-based coffee liqueur that tastes like vanilla.

And so it was settled and we made the following, a Revolver with all the typical ingredients of the traditional drink plus banana rum — making it a Banana Gun:


Banana Gun
•2 oz Woodford Reserve
•.75 oz Kahlua
•.75 oz banana rum
•2 dashes orange bitters

Thirsty For More?
— Read here about the Revolver.
—’s page about the cocktail.

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