Category Archives: BUFFALO BARS

24 Hours In Buffalo — Cecelia’s & Blue Monk

For the second half of our overnight in Buffalo, we started Sunday morning with brunch at Cecelia’s.

Cecelia’s a small restaurant located on Elmwood across from Blue Monk. I’ve blogged about it before.

Cecelia’s Ristorante & Martini Bar:


And the exterior:


The last time my wife and I were at Cecelia’s was a weekday, and we ordered off the lunch menu — a salad, pizza, hamburger and other delicious lunch items. However, the first time we ever ate at Cecelia’s was several years ago on a Sunday, and the brunch we had was one of those meals that the two of us have brought up to each other time and time again throughout the years.

Thankfully, we were lucky enough to get seats at the bar this trip. We didn’t have reservations for brunch and there weren’t any tables available.

Since it was 11 o’clock, no one could drink (as per New York State law). But like clockwork, the mimosas started flowing right at noon.

Everyone who orders one of the restaurant’s premium brunch dishes is entitled to a free mimosa.

By 12 o’clock though we were just about done with our meal: a crepe to share and a dish of their eggs Benedict for each of us.


Even though we were each entitled to a mimosa, we passed on them — and that would have been the end of our Cecelia’s experience but I saw a bottle of Strega behind the bar.
The last time I was at Cecelia’s I got to try an amaro is never had for the first time. And so similarly this trip I decided to end my meal with a shot of Strega.

STREGA

Strega is an Italian herbal liqueur that’s been in production since 1860. Like so many bitter digestifs, it contains saffron which gives it its yellow color — though it’s a little less yellow than Galliano.

Although it’s termed a liqueur, Strega is 80 proof (40% abv) and among its 70 herbal ingredients are mint and fennel.

It is slightly sweet, semi-viscous, and has a bold, complex flavor with strong minty or coniferous notes.
Another neat fact about Strega is that it’s the Italian word for “witch,” which made it an appropriate drink for the Halloween weekend.

One last thing about Cecelia’s, as if I haven’t gushed enough, is that I love the natural light they get in their bar from their skylights:



BLUE MONK

Also along this section of Elmwood is Blue Monk.

I had a quick beer at the popular beer bar after Cecelia’s, but we didn’t stay long. We’d purchased some sponge candy at Watson’s and were itching to get back to Resurgence to pair the candy with the brewery’s stout.

My short stop at Blue Monk did yield me two badges though:

  
 

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Filed under AMARO, BRANDS, BUFFALO BARS, BUFFALO RESTAURANTS, BUFFALO SHOPS, CRAFT BEER, NEW TO ME

24 Hours In Buffalo — Savoy & Vera Pizzeria

The reason I went to Buffalo over the weekend was to get myself some quality craft cocktails for my birthday.

My first stop though was for a quick beer, as I detailed in my last post, but the plan for the evening was very much about craft cocktails. We checked into our hotel and got gussied up for Halloween, then headed first to Savoy for a drink and Vera Pizzeria for dinner.

Savoy’s Beet Around The Busch:

  

My wife had a non-alcoholic cocktail which the bartender shook up and topped with ginger beer.

The first drink I had at Vera was a cocktail called Dill Breaker:

  

My second drink at Vera was a cocktail called Vice Admiral:

  

By the time we got to Vera it was very dark out, and the house lights were low (for Haloween I’m guessing) — and so I brightened the above pictures as best I could. Apologies for all the graininess, but I’m happy I at least got a pic at all for the blog. I easily could’ve left my phone at home and just enjoyed the atmosphere and overall experience. 

Our meal was excellent and the staff members at Vera were knowledgable and friendly. I finally got to try Amaro Di Angostura and the bartenders were kind enough to chat with me about their Fernet-Branca on tap!

The two cocktails I had are on Vera’s new Fall 2015 cocktail menu:

The Dill Breaker:

  

The Vice Admiral:
  

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24 Hours In Buffalo —Resurgence Brewing

My wife and I went to Buffalo over the weekend for my birthday.

It was a whirlwind trip, and we managed to pack a ton of stuff in throughout the course of only 24 hours.

The first stop we made was a first-time destination for us. 

We were on the 90 approaching Buffalo and wanted an early afternoon snack, but had no particular place in mind. 

I’d seen friends post pictures of a place called Resurgence Brewing on Facebook so we dialed up OnStar on a whim and took a chance on it:

  

We had such a good time at Resurgence on Saturday that we decided we’d end our weekend there as well, and we did!

When we left Buffalo on Sunday afternoon, we stopped again so I could try the Sponge Candy Stout — and I ended up winning a beer stein as part of a fundraiser being held at the brewery.

  

I love that I’d never had this brewery’s beer before nor had I ever been to this brewery, yet it ended up being the beginning and end to my weekend — a sort of bookend for my birthday. And both visits were exceptional in their own unique ways:

SATURDAY

I had two beers on Saturday, the WNY Fest and the Oktoberfest.

We also had two snacks while at Resurgence on the first day, a chip-and-dip with a peppers-and-cheese sauce as well as an order of pretzels which came with its own trio of other dips.

Perfect food for a beer-drinking afternoon, but grab plenty of water — most of those dips were spicy.

Saturday was Halloween and we were too early for the brewery’s costume contest (and we weren’t in costume yet), but one of Resurgence’s staff members was an excellent Ace Ventura.

Before leaving, I bought a six-pack of Resurgence’s IPA (which I still have yet to try) — and on our way out we sat by the outdoor fireplace which the brewery has in its closed-off backyard. It was a great way to spend a beautiful October afternoon.

SUNDAY

After brunch at Cecelia’s and a quick beer at Blue Monk, we bought sponge candy at Watson’s and then headed back to Resurgence for the brewery’s Sponge Candy Stout (pictured at bottom):

 
Top left is the Oktoberfest and top right is the WNY Fest.

Both days had their own unique energies at the brewery — Saturday was all abuzz with holiday joy and twentysomethings playing brewery games (cornhole, Connect Four, Jenga). On Sunday there were people there for the football game and also to support the fundraiser happening. 

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The Last Word

A quick pic of my first cocktail from before dinner in Buffalo last night:

The Last Word

Gin, green chartreuse, maraschino liqueur and lime juice.

This was my first time tasting green chartreuse.

Though the green chartreuse was in a cocktail and I wasn’t tasting it alone, it’s herbal flavor definitely came through. I look forward to my next chance to try some — either in a cocktail or on its own.

Green vs. Yellow Chartreuse:

•Green Chartreuse (110 proof or 55%) is a naturally green liqueur made from 130 herbs and plants macerated in alcohol and steeped for about 8 hours. 

•Yellow Chartreuse (80 proof or 40%) has a milder and sweeter flavour and aroma.

Still Thirsty For More?

—Read this article called “Exploring Chartreuse.”
—A look at its popularity as a shot.

My Recipe Card:

And here’s my recipe card from the Highball app:

  

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New To Me: Amaro Nonino

My wife and I were in Buffalo earlier this week, as I’ve mentioned several times these last few days.

On Wednesday, before leaving the city, we had a late lunch at Cecelia’s Ristorante.

We’d driven around the city and done some shopping on Elmwood, and Cecelia’s has a convenient location central to all the shops we were browsing (and just across the way from the Blue Monk).

Plus, my wife and I have a certain fondness for Cecelia’s. We stopped there for brunch one Sunday about four years ago, on our one-year wedding anniversary. This week was actually our first time back since that brunch, and seeing as how we were on Elmwood we figured we’d stop for old time’s sake.

Lunch was great. We had stuffed peppers, salad, pizza and a burger. My wife had a cosmopolitan, which was perfectly pink — and not red at all, like too many usually are. My mother-in-law had a mimosa, probably due in part to all of the talking my wife and I had been doing about Cecelia’s Sunday brunches and the “Bottomless Mimosas” they offer.

The rest of the cocktail menu was an assortment of different martinis, which is understandable — as Cecelia’s brands itself a “Martini Bar.” There were other spirits being used in some of the drinks on their menu, but I skipped the list and headed to the bar to see if any of the bottles looked interesting.

Other bartenders surely have this impulse, especially if they tend bar in a small or rural city that’s a decent ways away from mid-sized and larger cities. In my hometown, I’m limited to what my bar stocks — and all the boozes of the local bars which I frequent. Not to say that there aren’t any good or interesting boozes here at home, they’re just all very familiar to me. And plus, experiencing new things in other places is how new trends travel and new boozes make their way into our local waters. For instance, Forte has Fernet-Branca now. And I have a growing interest in all types of amaro, so of course I’m going to search out something new.

Backing up for a moment, I was initially tempted to get a Campari and soda with lunch (which I’ve had many times before and is a nice afternoon drink with a meal). But when I saw the bottle Amaro Nonino on Cecelia’s back bar, My desire to try something new took over — plus I figured it’d be a perfect post-lunch digestif.

Amaro Nonino:

Amaro Nonino Quintessentia is a grappa-based Italian amaro.

Grappa is a fragrant, grape-based pomace brandy associated with Italy.

Amaro Nonino in specific is bitter and sweet and has a variety of herbal components, flavored with herbs from the mountains of Friuli.

FURTHER READING•

Here’s a year-by-year history of Amaro Nonino’s evolution.

— Here’s an exclusively Amaro Nonino focused cocktail book.

— This post from a few years back on Measure & Stir lists several brands of amaro to try, and the writer’s opinions of each.

•HOW TO DRINK AMARO NONINO•

This is from the first link I posted above:

“Amaro Nonino  Quintessentia should be served in a tumbler with ice and a slice of orange peel or with crushed ice and a sprig of mint as a fabulous aperitif.

It can also be served at room temperature after a meal as a digestif.”

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Destination Cocktail: Buffalo Proper’s “Spin The Bottle”

My wife and I travelled to Buffalo last night to see The Phantom of the Opera at Shea’s.

Pre-show drinks consisted of champagne in the lobby, as well as a quick Jameson and Southern Tier IPA.

If this were a theater blog I’d go into more detail about the performance. It was my first time seeing the show in any form, and I enjoyed it quite a lot.

There’s a great photo of the Phantom descending a staircase in the Gusto review, which can be found online at this link.

The other half of our night consisted of dinner and drinks at Buffalo Proper.

Buffalo Proper

I’d looked up the bar/restaurant earlier in the week after reading  a write-up by a friend on Buffalo Eats.

It was probably 10 o’clock when we arrived at Buffalo Proper after Phantom. The bar was extremely dark yet still inviting, and a hostess greeted us pretty much as soon as we were in the door.

The crowd was lively and the bar was pretty full and since we were looking for food anyway, the hostess took us to a table upstairs (which afforded us the view pictured above).

Our waitress was Joelle. She ran us through the wine, beer and cocktail options and explained the restaurant’s seasonal focus, locally-sourced ingredients and the intent of all plates to be easily shareable.

I’d downloaded the cocktail menu earlier in the week and had been planning to get something with a shrub or some other special prep that’s normally not available to me unless I make it myself. Instead I opted for the  “Lion’s Tail,” a drink consisting of Wild Turkey 81 bourbon, St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram, fresh lime juice and Angostura bitters. My wife got a “New York Sour” made with Old Overholt, fresh lemon juice and a Rioja.

The drinks were everything we’d been hoping for from a bar that brands itself as a craft cocktail joint. And our second round was even better than our first. I chose to “Spin The Bottle” and my wife had the “Audrey Horne.”

We’re not terribly picky people. We don’t have to look hard to find a decent drink — and even most times, we’re easily forgiving of places that shake their Manhattans or use packaged sours mixes or don’t have a cocktail menu at all.

Still, with Buffalo so close to us, it’s practically a crime that we haven’t had more of these upscale cocktail experiences in our nearby Western New York city. That’s on us though, and not because of a lack of desireable options.

I’ve long wanted to make a visit to Vera, but still haven’t found my way there during business hours. Last April my wife and I stood outside the restaurant one Saturday afternoon and ogled the bar’s set-up through its windows. And even though that was almost a year ago, we still haven’t made it back yet. Hopefully this summer. Now that the weather is warming up, we’re more apt to travel.

The same thing happened in Pittsburgh when we passed by Butcher and the Rye. It’s not bad timing on our part. That’s just one of the detriments of working a bar/restaurant job. My days off are Sundays and Mondays, which are the same days that a lot of other bars and restaurants are shut down.

Regardless, we made it up to Buffalo on Sunday and our evening at Buffalo Proper made up for the lack of craft drinks we’ve had in our lives lately. Serving ourselves in our hometown is one thing, but what we got in Buffalo was appreciated — warm service, a well-thought out bar program and a desire to return.

Any of the cocktails on Buffalo Proper’s current list of drinks would be worth making the restaurant a “destination.” If I had to place one above the rest though, it would have to be the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure option of simply naming a type of spirit and leaving the rest up to the bartenders.

They call it the “Spin The Bottle” option and for part of my meal I feared that it might be a “bar only” option. However, even seated in the upstairs dining room, our waitress asked me a couple of quick questions and sent the request down to the bar. What returned was a black-colored bitter amaro drink made in balance with some sort of citrus. Was it Aperol? Was it orange oil? Was it Ramazotti? Was it a shrub? I don’t have any idea, but I loved it and as a result I’ll be heading back as soon as I can to spin the bottle again.

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Bar Louie: The Angry Sailor

I was going through my phone yesterday and found this photo of a drink I’d had at Bar Louie in Buffalo a few weeks back.
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BAR LOUIE
ANGRY SAILOR

Sailor Jerry, DeKuyper Amaretto, pure cane syrup, lime juice, topped with Angry Orchard Crisp Apple Cider.

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