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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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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Weekend Trip To Buffalo

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I was in Buffalo over the weekend. I’d hoped to make it to Vera Pizzeria for a cocktail, but Saturday evening revolved around swimming at The Millennium and dinner at The Melting Pot.

Still, I did have a delicious Whiskey Smash at Bar Louie.

I’d been looking forward to trying Vera’s “Solitary Man,” but since Bar Louie was right across from where my wife and I were having dinner… It sufficed in Vera’s place.


Templeton Rye, pure cane syrup, mint leaves, fresh lemon

Earlier in the day, after we realized that Vera didn’t open until 5 o’clock, we hoofed it on over to Thirsty Buffalo for a beer and pretzels. I had a Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale, which was so, so good. It’s become my new favorite.

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