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June is a drinking month. National Cognac and Moonshine Days were June 4 and 5 respectively,  National Bourbon Day is June 14, National Martini Day is June 19 and National Mai Tai Day is June 30. World Gin Day was June 8 and that sent me on a quest to find five of the best gin cocktails in town. Normally I'm a craft beer/IPA guy, but exploring Buffalo's gin scene ope…

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With a good amount of competition, it's important for bar and restaurant owners to establish an element of surprise and authenticity. Bartenders are challenging themselves to think creatively and experiment with flavors and ingredients to stand out. In the first of our new occasional series on cocktails, here are five colorful drinks to try. These stood out because of t…

Food and Drink

Whenever I plan a trip to a new city, I scour locals' Instagrams and blogs. How else am I going to know which cafés have the most Instagrammable avocado toast? I find someone whose general tastes mirror mine and discover where they eat their pepper-flaked, olive-oil-drizzled, avocado toast, just the way I like it. On the curated feeds of local bloggers and Instagrammers…

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Dog days? Lazy hazy? No, for us these are daiquiri days. Keep your margaritas and tonics, the daiquiri is the quintessential late summer cocktail. Chic or silly, it’s always refreshing. The classic cocktail origins reach back to the early 1900s, in Cuba, with a variety of versions since. The main ingredients however, remain rum, lime juice and sugar. Here are thre…

Food and Drink

A good margarita isn't simple to pull off. The preferred mix of tequila, triple sec and lime juice varies by the drinker; some want top-shelf tequila at the front (and the back), others are fine with a sugary beverage to mask the taste of well tequila, while still others demand a delicate balance. Calling upon pre-made margarita mix might be considered cutting corners f…

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We rejoiced when the cocktail movement began several years ago. Today, cocktails are the highlight of our night out, which got us to thinking, how do they come up with the funny drink names? We met up with Ben Lewis, director of operations for Deep South Taco, which is revamping its food and drink menu just in time for the summer patio scene. The new menu has some di…

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Hamburg native David Busch grew up listening to his grandfather, Ray Gates, tell stories about his time behind the bar at The Steakhouse, an institution where Mason’s Grille 52 now stands. As he takes over the bar program at Carte Blanche on the corner where he used to work as a dishwasher at Buffalo Street Grille, he's right at home. “I came into a family atmosphere he…

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Western New York is more slush than sand beaches this time of year but inside many local bars, tropical sensations are just a sip away. Carved ceramic mugs, garish garnishes and two handfuls of ingredients indicate that tiki is in the house. Tiki, as we know it today started 80 years ago with Don the Beachcomber in Hollywood. The restaurant was founded by Ernest Raymond…

Food and Drink

Buffalo loves cocktails. Throwing a few back in a parking lot pre-Bills game. Enjoying a tipple at the corner watering hole after a long week. Tasting craft concoctions at any one of the burgeoning options. Western New York is always up for a few drinks. From 4 to 7 p.m. Nov. 13, up to 750 cocktail enthusiasts can put their tastebuds and voting fingers to task at StepOut B…

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Photographer and Buffalo native Aaron Ingrao has always been fascinated with passion. His work explores the spirit behind artisans of all crafts: Cobblers whose boots are imbued with more care than machine-stamped leather, bicycle-makers who bend better frames than Huffy, woodworkers whose tables are functional artwork. It doesn’t matter to Ingrao whether these craftsmen …

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The new (old) world of cocktails has our heads spinning, but in a good way. With the holidays here, meeting up with friends for a drink takes on a whole new meaning these days. We noticed at the swanky Bourbon and Butter, not only can we try a House Original signature cocktail, but we can take a mini trip without ever leaving the barstool. The "Modern Classics" section o…

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With a flourish of double-bottle-pouring and some combustion, The Blazing Monk is served, a current winter cocktail at Vera Pizzeria. Bar Manager Jason Wood, who has held that position for a year and a half, explains that the hot cocktail is "a play on the hot toddy" with its classic combination of liquor, hot water, lemon and honey. The drink is served in a glass mug. W…

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The Black Swan Lounge has closed, and the owners are seeking to sell the business. The lounge and restaurant at 153 Elmwood Ave. opened in March, with an eclectic food menu and a cocktails list chockablock with science fiction references. “We’re looking into selling the business,” said Monique Fortunato-Lester, who opened The Black Swan with husband Bryan Lester. “We rec…

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Four bartenders and four judges sized up the Buffalo cocktail scene’s progress in the fourth annual Industry Night cocktail competition last week. It started Monday night and ended in the wee hours of Tuesday, and in the end the outcome was familiar. Tony Rials, of Bourbon & Butter, won for the fourth year in a row, with his “No Talking, Just Head” cocktail, a Hornito…

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This remarkable year of Buffalo restaurant openings continued last week with the maiden voyage of Marble + Rye, another newly-minted downtown place with an abundance of exposed brick and culinary ambition. It’s from Michael Dimmer and Christian Willmott, the owners of Black Market Food Truck. I arrived at the 75-seat room at 112 Genesee St. on the second day of service.…