Tag Archives: BUFFALO BARS

My Top Cocktails Of 2015

The next few weeks will be full of lists and year-in recaps getting linked on Facebook and every o social media site.

And I’m not going to lie — I love that crap.

Somewhere in all the listicles, recaps and prediction pieces, I’ll inevitably learn something — which makes all the digging around in the dirt worthwhile.

In the meantime though, here’s a quickly-cobbled together recap of five memorable cocktails I was served this past year:

Brazill’s On Main
Westfield, N.Y.


It’s a rare treat to go out and get waited on by someone when most of your nights are spent working in the service industry.

I’ve had two really nice meals at Brazill’s On Main in Westfield, N.Y. — and I’ve had several great drinks! The owner is an older guy and every time I’ve been to the place, he’s been the one behind the bar mixing up drinks.

The Manhattan pictured above was expertly done, and had an extra little kick of flavor — maybe from the (what I assume were) house-made cherries. My father-in-law and I were picking up subtle notes of cinnamon and other flavors. All-in-all an excellent night and a memorable drink.

Mint Julep
Bag & String Wine Merchants
Lakewood, N.Y.


I’m so lucky to have Bag & String in this area.

If you’re new to the blog, I mention them a lot.

This past Derby Day the staff had prepared a pitcher of Mint Juleps to promote the many bourbons available at the shop.

I swung by for a quick sip and also to shoot the above pic, as any reason for a blog post is reason enough! And I’d mentioned to Betsy (pictured) that Jeffrey Morgenthaler had a dynamite recipe for mint syrup… Which can be found online here.

Dill Breaker
Vera Pizzeria
Buffalo, N.Y.


Dill-infused mezcal with ginger syrup and lime. Had this on Halloween. Strange and tasty. Very worthwhile.

Spin The Bottle
Buffalo Proper
Buffalo, N.Y.


Alright, so… Obviously this is a picture of me, but the drink I’m holding is my “Dealer’s Choice” cocktail. You see, on the menu at Buffalo Proper is something called “Spin The Bottle,” where you tell your bartender or waitress what sorts of things you like — and they craft you a drink of their choosing.

For this drink I mentioned amaros (amari?) and even mentioned Fernet-Branca and Campari, but what I got was something black and bitter, but juicy — maybe made with Aperol or Ramazzotti? I’ll never know. But I enjoyed it. Immensely.

Arendell Room
Moorehead City, N.C.


Another “Dealer’s Choice” drink with whiskey and amaro/bitter being the only things I mentioned. 

I’ve made plenty of Boulevardiers for myself in recent years, but sometimes a drink just tastes so much better when someone else is making it for you.

Other Drinks Worth Mentioning 

•A black walnut drink at Cheshire in Rochester made with Fee Brothers Black Walnut Bitters.
•Old Fashioneds at Good Luck with Robert Simonson.
•Champagne before Phantom of the Opera.

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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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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.



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.

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

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