Tag Archives: LAKEWOOD

Bag & String exclusive Tommyrotter barrel-aged gin

The flavors in this barrel aged gin are unreal!

I’m very excited to try my hand at making some creative drinks with this Bag & String Wine Merchants exclusive from Buffalo’s Tommy Rotter Distillery!

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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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A Sunday Tour At Southern Tier

Today is Cinco de Mayo.

I should be writing about tequila, but instead I’m going to recap my Sunday tour of the Southern Tier Brewing Company.

So crack open a bottle of Phin & Matt’s and pour a shot of Patron Silver!

The tour was an educational group outing for all the staff at the bar where I work. And it was appreciated by all of us at Forte!

It’s nice to have a world class, internationally-renowned brewery in our back yard.

The tour of Southern Tier’s facility really puts things in perspective, as you learn about exactly how much raw product it takes to make so much beer — grains, water, hops, malt and everything else.

And in this photo below? With the beer being aged in barrels!? It’s something dark and gingery we were told! Sounds like a cocktail I know!  
Southern Tier’s brewery at Stoneman Park in Lakewood is the only place in Chautauqua County you can stand underneath 22,000 gallons of IPA.

Or maybe the only place in Western New York? I don’t know of another regional brewery that makes beer in such bulk amounts.

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Mint Juleps At Bag & String

I just left Bag & String and today they’re sampling customers on Mint Juleps!

The tasting runs until 6 p.m. Stop on out!

Thanks for hosting such a great tasting Samuel Whitmore, Betsy Goldman and Renee Zahm!

And lastly, Bag & String’s recipe:


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Bitters At Bag & String

Shot this pic today while shopping for booze at Bag & String in Lakewood:


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Bittermens Available At Five & 20

Need a little something extra to take your mixology game to the next level?

Well, whille I was tasting spirits and craft beer at Five & 20 in Westfield yesterday, I noticed that they’re selling several Bittermens products alongside their in-house products and other merch.

Here’s a picture I took of their selection:


More than just bitters, Bittermens makes Citrates and Shrubs. More on those in a minute, but first, here’s a list of the bottles I saw on display at Five & 20 yesterday:


  • Boston Bittahs
  • Burlesque Bitters
  • ‘Elemakule Tiki Bitters
  • Hopped Grapefruit Bitters
  • Orange Cream Citrate
  • Orchard Street Celery Shrub
  • Xocolatl Mole Bitters

Small batch bitters have become extremely desirable in recent years as the ongoing renaissance in craft cocktails and mixology continues to boom.

Bittermens makes all its products by hand at its New Orleans facility from primarily organic ingredients. The company was founded by Avery and Janet Glasser and dates back to early 2007, when the pair were trying to make an extract of a traditional Mexican cooking sauce — which became their Xocolatl Mole Bitters.

There’s more info about the company and their products online at Bittermens.com.


For their Orange Cream Citrate, Bittermens uses citric acid instead of phosphoric acid to create an orange tincture that’s a riff on the classic sodajerk orange cream soda syrup.

A “Shrub” is also known as “drinking vinegar,” a beverage that dates back to colonial times and is made by combining vinegars with sugar and either fruits or vegetables. I made raspberry and blueberry shrubs last summer, as I posted here. And Bittermens produces a celery shrub, which Five & 20 is currently selling.

Where else can you get bitters in Chautauqua County?

BAG & STRING — If you’re looking for even more craft bitters, check out Bag & String. Last time I was in the Lakewood shop, they were stocking four flavors by The Bitter Truth — as well as a sampler pack which the company offers.

WEGMANS — Wegmans usually has both Angostura and Fee Brothers. Most all the other supermarkets in the county only have Angostura as far as I’ve seen.

CHAUTAUQUA RESTAURANT SUPPLY — Located down by McCrea Point in Jamestown is Chautauqua Restaurant Supply — where last time I checked, they stock Fee Brothers.

FORTE — Lastly, if you come see me at Forte in Jamestown, we currently have The Bitter Truth’s grapefruit bitters and Peychaud’s in addition to Angostura, Fee Brothers and Angostura Orange. Of course, unlike the avove mentioned locations, our bitters aren’t for sale. We just keep a variety in house for shaking up cocktails.

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Pappy Van Winkle In Western New York

A local wine shop posted a picture online the other day that sent a few of my Facebook friends and I into full-on bourbon geek mode.

Bag & String Wine Merchants in Lakewood are a boon to have in the area. They’ve got an amazing selection of not only wines but also great spirits. The staff are friendly and knowledgable and the shop goes the extra mile, doing tastings and a monthly wine club and more.

And now they have three bottles of Pappy Van Winkle.

In their Facebook post, the shop said it’d acquired three bottles from a private collector — the 12, 15 and 20 year expressions.

Here’s their full post, screen-captured from my phone:

Pappy Van Winkle:

Pappy Van Winkle is a brand of bourbon owned by the “Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery” company (which does not actually own or operate a distillery, but rather has it produced under a contract with another company).

Pappy Van Winkle is distilled and bottled by the Sazerac Company at its Buffalo Trace Distillery. The brand is regarded as one of the finest bourbons in the world, and is rare to find on the market due to its very low production and high demand.

Further Reading:

Here is a link to a lengthy and interesting read, which bills itself as “The Complete Guide To Pappy Van Winkle.”

From their website:

Bag & String Wine Merchants is a boutique rare wine and liquor store with an emphasis on value and unique wines from around the globe.
Our primary goals are to provide unparalleled service, wine education and a selection that meets consumers’ needs and budget. Bag & String Wine Merchants — Purveyors of fine wine and spirits.


The shop is located at 119 Chautauqua Avenue in Lakewood,N.Y., just west of Jamestown. For more info visit the shop’a website online here.