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Cold weather calls for warm beverages. As the holidays give way to slush and stilettos yield to salt-crusted boots, Buffalo beverage aficionados seek out something to soothe the transition. The area’s best bartenders and baristas spend weeks crafting the cocktails and coffees that embody the season, many of which are twists on old favorites.At Buffalo Proper (333 Franklin …

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Three and a half years ago, I was appointed restaurant critic of The Buffalo News. Some 200 restaurant reviews later, my view of my job has expanded a smidge. My core mission is still giving readers actionable intelligence on where to spend their dining dollars. Put another way, it’s my job to find and proclaim the best in Western New York’s eating life. “The best” is a …

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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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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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Tony Rials shaves down a chunk of crystal clear ice and drops it into a highball. He measures an ounce of this, a dash of that and a dropper of something else into a shaker, stirs vigorously and then strains it – twice – over the ice. He pinches the oils from an orange peel and swirls it around the edges of the glass before sliding the drink toward the customer with a smil…

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There can be a fine line between innovation for its own sake and elevating an old favorite to new heights. Tony Rials at Bourbon and Butter walks that line expertly, almost every time. Rials may be the best bartender in Buffalo, and the crowd at his rail on a weekday night shows his skill is no secret. He’s a man of few words, holding court in the turquoise and ivory art …

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Buffalo needs more grand rooms, places where dinner offers the potential for romance, for dazzle, for a night to remember. Where you can star in your own black-and-white classic movie, your table a stage for acts of deliciousness performed by expert practitioners of the culinary arts. Something more than the nutritional equivalent of pulling into a gas station to top off t…