Buffalo Drinks is a blog that focuses on where and how to drink well in the Greater Buffalo - Niagara region. From beer, to wine, to classic cocktails, Buffalo Drinks aspires to bring you news about, and suggestions on finding local wineries, breweries, taverns and cocktail lounges. We will also feature tips and recipes for cocktail making and entertaining at home. Are you visiting Buffalo NY and looking for a good pub, or a place for a drink after dinner? You've come to the right place. Let us be your designated driver - and come along for the ride!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Blackberry Merle cocktail - a summer cocktail with a dark Italian twist

The Blackberry Merle was a cocktail that was born from ingredients that were on hand.  Looking for a new way to showcase the versatility of Pinnacle's Whipped Vodka, I created this fruity but complex cocktail, with an Italian twist.
Pinnacle Whipped vodka tastes like whipped cream, and has a noticeably sweet finish on the palate - so it  works exceedingly well in sweet-and-fruity cocktail pairings like Strawberries-and-Cream (muddled strawberries, Pinnacle Whipped, mint leaf garnish, on the rocks) or OrangeCreamsicle (orange juice, Pinnacle Whipped, ice, in a highball glass.)
But for this occasion I was looking to build onto the flavored vodka for a more complex and mysterious cocktail.  A few muddled blackberries provided the base, and a half-shot of Italian Strega liqueur was perfect for adding some herbaceous and vanilla notes.  I added some lemon juice for tartness, and a bit of Monin lavender syrup to balance the tart and add a more floral character.
Shaken vigorously over ice and then fine strained into a chilled v-shaped martini glass, adding a single berry and a twist for garnish, the drink had a gorgeous dark purple hue.
Overall, everyone who tried this cocktail was enamored with the result.  Complex, fruity, and dark in color, the Blackberry Merle had a not-too-sweet flavor, and mysterious quality that had customers trying to guess the ingredients while ordering second rounds.
Try this cocktail for summer.  You can find Strega in any good liquor store with a large selection (Premier Group, Passport Wine & Spirits)  and Monin lavender syrup at Premier Gourmet on Delaware.

Blackberry Merle
1.5 oz Pinnacle Whipped Vodka
.5 oz Strega liqueur
.25 oz Monin lavender-flavored syrup
.5 oz fresh squezzed lemon juice
4 fresh blackberries
lemon twist

Gently muddle 3 blackberries in the bottom of a mixing glass, and add the Pinnacle Whipped, Strega, fresh lemon juice, and Monin lavender syrup.  Fill the shaker with ice and hard-shake until very cold - at least 30 seconds.  Strain through your Hawtorne strainer and then into a fine strainer - leaving ice shards and blackberry piecies behind - into a chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with the last blackberry and a twist of lemon peel.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Kiuchi Brewery's Hitachino Nest Japanese Classic Ale

Kiuchi Brewery
Hitachino Nest Beer
Japanese Classic Ale
7.00% ABV
24.3 oz. Bottle
Premier Gourmet

Posted by NickleCitySmoker
The Hitachino Nest Beer Japanese Classic Ale opens with an overwhelming amount of carbonation as the first pour was almost all head. The foam continued to flow out of the bottle for minutes afterwords, which at $12 for the single 24 ounce bottle (Premier Gourmet), was slightly disconcerting. However, when the head finally did settled down, it exhibited a rich, amber ale with a hint of haze. The JCA ended up being finely carbonated, which I assumed to be a product of the live yeast haze, and topped by a solid head.

The Kiuchi brewery describes the JCA as:

"Brewed following the original India Pale Ale brought to Japan in the 19th century. It is slowly matured in Japanese cedar casks which are commonly used in the brewing of traditional sake."

The nose and taste of the JCA do not reveal the hops one normally expects from an IPA, but I'm willing to overlook that. When I think of Japanese beers, my experience begins and ends with Kirin, Sapporo, and Asahi, so when I read "Japanese Classic Ale" those were what came to mind (despite those three are most likely all lagers). Kiuchi has got those three easily beat. Sure, the JCA lacks a strong hops note - but its dry, malty and complex. I found grain notes similar to rye ales, and a sourness similar to whiskey. The cedar wasn't perceptible as a distinct flavor, but added to the overall flavor in a way that's hard to describe.

When I come across a beer like this that's unique, complex, and balanced it has to be celebrated. If you are a fan of Belgian beers, or rye ales,  the JCA is worth a taste. We paired it with teriyaki hanger steak (and a few other Japanese favorites) and it certainly held its own. Buy a bottle, make some maki and enjoy.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Ulrich's Tavern

Ulrich's Tavern
674 Ellicott Street
Buffalo NY 14203
(716) 855-8409

Establishment: Classic Tavern
Drink Category: Beer
Drink Prices: Moderate
Food: German, Wings, Beef-On-Weck, Fish Fry
Food Prices: Moderate
Atmosphere: Warmly lit Buffalo tavern with  dark wood, antique furniture, tin ceilings, and original advertisements and memorabilia, remind you that you are stepping into Buffalo's oldest bar.  German, Irish, craft beer and shots are all doled out by hardworking barkeeps to a mix of blue and white-collar workers.

As in any good bar, you tend to lose track of time at Ulrich's Tavern.
A bartender's shift ends, another begins. One Octoberfest leads to the next.  The sun begins to set, but the neon beer signs hum and glow in the windows. The German sausages arrive, the Irish reels play,  pitchers of beer are poured, and another St Patrick's Day passes. A young couple clink glasses, a man walks by in real leather Lederhosen, and someone scrapes their bar stool against the wood floor.  And it all blends together in a seamless, timeless flow.  Then you look at your watch and notice nearly a century-and-a half has gone by.

The beer taps have been flowing since 1868 - making Ulrich's the oldest continuously operating tavern in Buffalo.  Originally started by Fredrick Schrerier, a young German immigrant, as a grocery and saloon, the establishment has survived two world wars, prohibition, depression and recession, neighborhood collapse and rebirth - to emerge on the other side - stronger than ever.  By morphing over the years, from boarding house to delicatessen, tied-house to speak-easy, Ulrich's has managed to continuously serve beer under it's roof.
The tavern's longevity is remarkable by any measure, and several changes in ownership are well documented on the company's website.  The most recent (recent - as in 1954) by the Daley family infuses a bit of Irish character into the old German bar.

Stepping into Ulrich's is NOT like stepping back in time to 1868.  Rather, the tavern decor offers a bit of travel THROUGH time. Maps and posters of the many mega-breweries that dotted the surrounding neighborhood during the 1800's share space on the walls with JFK election posters, boxing match advertisements, and photo's from the 1980's.  Current owner Jim Daley is a veritable treasure-trove of information on the history of taverns and breweries of the area, including the long-gone Phoenix brewery, which once shared a back wall with the tavern.

The front of the tavern features the original bar area, with it's dozen stools and an untouched mission oak stained glass back-bar.  Steps away, a historically-sensitive remodel of a long unused space now offers more room for standing, sitting, drinking, and eating.
At the bar, you will find a single beer tower with 8 pulls.  Guinness, Warsteiner, and Labatt Blue are almost always on tap, while craft-micro brews and imports rotate on the other pulls.  You will usually find something from Flying Bison, Southern Tier, and Great Lakes available at any time.
Behind the bar, you will find a work-horse selection of spirits.  This is a working-man's tavern, not a fancy cocktail-joint, so if mixed drinks are your bag it is probably best to keep it simple.  A good assortment of Irish Whiskeys is important to note - including Bushmill's 10 year old single malt, Redbreast, Midleton, and the hard-to-find Connemara.

Walk to the back, and you will find the dining room. Here, it feels a bit like a German beer hall, with rows of vintage tables and antique chairs tightly packed together, making inteaction with other diners almost a guarantee. Layers of paint coat the original tin ceiling, and a random assortment of vintage lamps casts a glow over dining area.

Lunch is served weekdays, and dinner on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings.  The kitchen proudly features German food, such as wiener schnitzel, sausage platters, and the tavern's renowned potato pancakes.  Local favorites, like chicken wings, beef-on-weck, and Friday Fish fries are also featured.  Live Irish or German music is often featured on Friday evenings in the dining room.

Ulrich's admittedly has had increased patronage since being featured on Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations, sometimes resulting in longer waits or kitchen shortages, but considering the 142 years of service Ulrich's has provided the Buffalo community, a few bumps in the road is hardly noticeable.

We highly recommended Ulrich's for a slice of authentic Buffalo history.
It's time to look at your watch.  Their may still be time for one more round.

Friday, September 10, 2010

And Now for Something (not) Completely Different

Better than meh!

War of 1812 Amber Ale
Sackets Harbor Brewing Company, Sackets Harbor NY
Brewed for SHBC by High Falls (Genesee) Brewery in Rochester NY

Posted by far2gone
I first purchased War of 1812 Amber Ale to bring to a gathering at a friend’s house. I needed a good “all purpose beer”. SHBC’s website describes War of 1812 Amber Ale as “a nutty malt flavor which is balanced by a citrus hop flavor and classic ale fruitiness”. I do agree with the nutty malt flavor, which definitely predominates. There are also hints of caramel. However, I did not detect any of the fruitiness they mentioned. Try it for yourself and you be the judge. This isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy War of 1812; it’s a quaffable beer but just doesn’t rise above the rest. What did stand out is that six packs are buy one get one free at Consumers Beverages. This influenced me in buying it the first time, but it was the drinkability that keeps me coming back.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The 2nd Chance Prom

Not everyone enjoyed going to the prom.  But now there is a second chance to do it right.  The 2nd Chance Prom will be throwing a high-class shindig at Samuel's Grande Manor, on October 15th, to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.  There are few opportunities to pull out your fancy tuxes, party dresses, and sparkly tiaras, and this looks like it could be a fun night of entertainment for a good cause.

Here is a summary from the 2nd Chance Prom website...
Our Mission: To give everyone a 2nd chance at one of the most memorable experiences in a lifetime, their Prom! 
Maybe you didn’t make it to your first Prom?  Perhaps you met the love of your life after High School?  Or maybe your first Prom wasn’t all you had hoped it would be?  Well we are giving you that 2nd chance to come out and dance the night away with someone you really care about.
Time to get that dress you dreamed of, and put on that fancy tuxedo for a night of wonderful memories just waiting to be made.  At this Prom you can legally drink, as well as setting your own curfew.  So once more it’s time to build up the courage and find that special someone and ask those famous 8 words: ”Would you go to the Prom with me?” 
And speaking of “finding” that special someone; with your support of this wonderful event, you can help us “find” a cure for Juvenile Diabetes.  With every ticket sold you will be helping a great cause.  So come on out or help our cause, and dance the night away at The 2nd Chance Prom. This is a formal event for ages 21 and up.

For more information on tickets, visit http://www.prombuffalo.com

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Niagara Wine Trail : Wine & Culinary Festival

The Niagara Wine Trail Wine and Culinary Festival will feature wine tasting from a dozen American Niagara wineries, on Saturday July 31th and Sunday August 1st, at Lewiston's ArtPark.
In addition to wine tasting;  seminars, cuisine from local restaurants, shopping, a Plein Art show, and live music is planned for both days.

Hours for the event are Saturday: Noon - 8:00PM   and Sunday: Noon - 6:00PM.

Tickets the day of the festival are $25 each, and designated drivers are admitted free of charge.
Tickets include a one-day wine tasting pass and a keepsake wine glass. Tickets can be purchased at the gate during the event, or pre-sale tickets can be purchased through the wine trail website or ArtPark for $5.00 less.

You can find more information on the event at

Saturday, July 17, 2010

How To Open A Bottle Of Wine With Your Shoe... (Yes. Really.)

Let's imagine you are somewhere with some friends, a bottle of wine, and...
wait...  no corkscrew.

Or, let's imagine a romantic interlude, the beach at sunset, and that bottle you thought had a twist-off-cap, actually has a cork.

While the likelihood of it happening is pretty slim, (Boy Scout motto: BE PREPARED,)  it is always good to know this little parlor trick.

The video is in French, but you'll get the idea.
(Not sure if this will work with 4-inch heels.)