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!

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.

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