LEWISTON – The outdoor patio rocks at the Lewiston Stone House – a nearly 200-year-old beauty rescued and repurposed as a bar four years ago on tree-lined Center Street.
Step up to the polished horseshoe-shaped bar under the airy, peaked roof and order a dazzling summer cocktail or icy cold brew, with a shot of history on the side.
After his 1813 wood-frame home was destroyed during the War of 1812, U.S. Congressman Bates Cooke built this stone structure in 1819 and it became the colorfully named First and Last Chance Saloon following his death in 1841.
This sturdy structure served many other purposes through the years, including art museum, hat shop and doctor’s office. Current owner and local native Emery Simon did extensive renovations prior to opening the Stone House in 2012.
Now the Stone House serves drinks and a light menu on its spacious, covered patio to a varied crowd of locals and tourists of all ages. The patio opens in the spring and remains open through fall as Mother Nature permits. A planned table-top fire pit will soon help extend the patio season. Winter sees the crowd head indoors, to the cozy basement bar. A spacious upstairs room with balcony is rented year-round for special occasions.
But let’s talk summer, because there’s no finer place to be on a hot summer night than this patio, with a cold drink in hand and an order placed at the casual kitchen window behind the patio. Three flat-screen televisions keep patrons busy, while a giant, new “air-chiller” provides “outdoor air conditioning” even on the most humid of days.
And the star of the bar – as the temperatures hover in the high 80s – is the slushie. Flavors rotate, but a recent visit wielded the following tasty choices: Pina Colada, White Zin, Mango Margarita and Sweet Revenge ($5). Each one packs a sweet, tart, but powerful punch. The slushie flavors also reflect the local scene, with a peach slushie to be offered during the Peach Festival (Sept. 9-11) and a cinnamon apple cider slushie featured during the Harvest Festival (Sept. 24-25). Yum!
Let’s not forget the summer cocktail menu, which includes nine specialties, from the delightful Ruby Fizz (Prosecco and Deep Eddy Ruby Red vodka, garnished with lime, lemon and cherry) to the adventurous Cucumber Cocktail (Prairie Organic Cucumber Vodka muddled with cukes and topped off with lemonade and a fresh cucumber wheel).
The popular Moscow Mule also is served here (Crabbie’s Ginger Beer with a shot of Double Cross Vodka, lime juice and mint served in a proper copper mug), as well as the quintessential Summer Sangria (Moscato, vodka, orange and pineapple juice, topped with Sierra Mist and garnished with lemons, limes, oranges and cherries). Prices vary depending on choice of well, premium or top-shelf liquors, but generally run $5-$8.
A wide assortment of bottled beer (domestics $4, imports $5), as well as area draft selections like Southern Tier IPA, Woodcock Brothers Niagara Lager and Flying Bison Kolsch are offered at $5 a pint.
And we cannot forget the lengthy wine selection list, as this establishment still carries the subtitle “wine bar.”
The list includes German and French whites, an Australian white (Pino Grigio) and red (Shiraz), and South African (Sauvignon Blanc) and (Cabernet-Shiraz) selections. You can also find several California choices in both categories and a local Arrowhead Spring Vineyards Meritage. Prices range from $6 to $13 a glass, or $22 to $50 a bottle.
A new kitchen opened this year off the back of the patio, whipping up gourmet flatbread pizza (eight varieties, $8-$9); wraps (like Kickin’ Chicken, $8-$9); steak or chicken quesadillas ($9); and lighter fare like an olive plate ($5), cheese plate ($8), or salads ($6-$7). A customer favorite is the chicken wing dip, served with torilla chips ($7).
Relax against the backdrop of live music three times a week and sit at the bar or at any of the several nearby tables. Use the Stone House as a destination or as a recharging stop while exploring the rest of this village’s historic one square mile, nestled on the banks of the mighty Niagara River.
Lewiston Stone House
Where: 755 Center St., Lewiston (754-7759, lewistonstonehouse.com)
Hours: Open 4 p.m. to midnight, Monday through Thursday; 3 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday; 2 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday; and noon to 10 p.m. Sunday.
Niche: Airy, covered patio overlooking Center Street with new, outdoor kitchen, attached to cool 1819 original, revamped stone saloon.
Wine selection: Large and rotating.
Beer selection: Variety of bottles and seven on tap.
Stop by for: The adult slushies, with rotating flavors like Sweet Revenge and Mango Margarita; and summer cocktails like Blueberry Breeze and Strawberry Basil.
Where the bands are: Live music on the patio Friday and Saturday night, and Sunday afternoons.
Daily Specials: Happy Hour is 4 to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, with $1 off mixed drinks and $2 off domestic bottles. Additional daily specials.
Don’t forget the arts and music: Free Monday bluegrass at 7 p.m. at the gazebo on Center Street through Aug. 29; and Tuesday night Artpark concerts through Aug. 30.