Working under the guise of meeting the SigO’s Irish coworker Ann and husband Bruce over St. Patrick’s Day weekend, we headed to Buffalo Distilling Co.’s newly opened tasting room in Larkinville for a wee bit o'wicked day drinking.
Buffalo Distilling’s original operation began in 2012, in a barn in Bennington. At the time, the location was strictly for production. (For those who might not know, it was the 2007 Farm Distillery Act opened up craft distilling in New York State.)
In 2014, the Craft New York Act helped distilleries expand the scope of their business, including the ability to serve drinks rather than straight liquor, to promote the product. (To be honest, those original tastings were a little rough.) Since 2014, more 100 distilleries have opened statewide.
In the beginning of March — and after months of extensive renovations — Buffalo Distilling opened its new tasting room and distillery in what was once Duchmann & Sons, a carriage manufacturer at 860 Seneca St., in Larkinville.
Right now limited hours are 4:30 to 10 p.m. Friday and noon to 8 p.m. Saturday. Hours will be added as the weather gets warmer. Starting April 11, and to coincide with Larkinville’s Food Truck Tuesdays, Buffalo Distilling adds Tuesdays and Thursdays, 4:30 to 9 p.m. On April 14, a regular piano lounge happy hour will begin, with music from 5:30 to 8 p.m., no cover.
If you’d like to get a preview of the piano lounge happy hour, Wegrzyn said to stop by March 24 to hear David Kane or March 31 when musician Beave Sorensen will play live and spin some vinyl.
“The happy hour will feature different styles and players who will use Ann Philippone’s 100-plus year old Knabe grand piano we transformed into a one-of-a-kind digital spaceship piano,” said Andy Wegrzyn, who co-owns and is a distiller with Frank Weber III and Eric Kempisty. (Philippone is house piano player at Nietzsche’s in Allentown.)
New “Director of Pleasures” Roy Bakos, formerly of Pearl Street Brewery, will be working on adding beer, wine and food.
“Roy is leading the charge with an eclectic, Buffalo-centric Anacone’s style food menu,” said Wegrzyn. (Anacone’s Inn was a famous Buffalo tavern on Bailey Avenue that closed during the 2000s. It was known for its beef on weck and great music, among other things. Owner Dave Anacone, a Buffalo musician, died in January.)
Buffalo Distilling will open a patio this summer as well.
As for the booze, Wegrzyn said on the horizon under Buffalo Distilling’s tongue-in-cheeky One Foot Cock label is moonshine, gin and Buffalo’s first straight bourbon whiskey that will be aged a solid two years, versus the now 16- to 18-month average.
The tasting room is beautiful. The partners did much of the work themselves. The fun decor includes a rusted horse plow hanging above the entrance — a nod to Buffalo Distilling's humble beginnings in a Bennington barn (or possible an early 19th century security system).
Two giant tomes embossed with crosses sit behind the bar. (We imagined they were either bibles or Harry Potter’s spell books.)
But on to the luscious cocktails. Fair warning, they are $9 each; $5.50 if you order something like vodka and lemonade.
Oh, you can get in trouble drinking these babies. “Sneaky” is the word that comes to mind. Drinks are made from signature Buffalo Distilling products — One Foot Cock bourbon, apple brandy (aged or unaged) and vodka. For now, gin drinks use Buffalo's Niagara Distilling Co’s 1812 brand.
For a nice twist on Manhattan, The Larkinville mixes bourbon with New York State maple syrup and bitters. The Daywalker combines unaged apple brandy, with ginger beer, lemonade and a splash of cranberry.
We cracked up at the mature gentleman who ordered The Larkinville Idiot with a shrug — vodka, bourbon, aged and un-aged apple brandy, gin and blueberry simple syrup.
For those with simpler tastes, two giant vats of vodka behind the bar are infused with fruit — one pineapple, one orange. Add a mixer like club soda and you’re good to go.
For heavy-heavy hitters, the flip side of the menu offers classics — martini, gimlet, negroni, boulevardier, and with the Kentucky Derby around the corner, a mint julep.