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The Way We Drink

Buffalo has plenty of joints to explore if you want to drop in for a cold one. Whether you crave a top shelf candy-colored martini, a glass of fine New York State wine or something more exotic, a foamy draught of a local microbrew, or a cool Genny pounder with a shot of whiskey in a dark, forgotten room with a pricelessly dated jukebox—our area offers a kaleidoscope of settings in which to exercise the privilege that was restored to every American (currently over the age of 21 in New York) by the 21st Amendment in 1933 with the repeal of Prohibition.

Speaking of jukeboxes, those antiquated specimens of entertainment hardware, our top five this year is the same as last year’s, with the addition of familiar Elmwood Avenue haunt J.P. Bullfeathers. What’s my tip to you jukebox enthusiasts out there? Don’t skip over the fabulously odd selection of 45s offered by the Jolly Jug on Niagara Falls Boulevard.

Just Vino (photo by Rose Mattrey)

Some of these places cater to three of our area’s favorite drinking-related sports: bowling, pool, or darts. Interesting how all three are skills that require some degree of physical coordination, as if to remind us when it’s time to go home. (“Stan, you just threw two gutters in the 10th frame. Let me call you a cab.”) This year, Tonawanda Bowling Center rose into our top five.

Other spots appeal to our love of music and dance—those Dionysian arts that are so entwined with drink. We’re blessed with a lot of clubs offering live music, and this year Depew music mecca Macaroon’s Nite Club joins the list of favorites according to our readers. So you think you can dance? Why not prove it by shakin’ it up at Bayou? They rose into our top five this year. And if you just gotta sing, you’re in luck. Several local bars offer karaoke—this year, Q and Underground join the elite list for DIY divas.

We also get a lot of votes from folks who appreciate that arcane mix of talents—part chemist, part priest, part psychologist, part comedian, part cop—that goes into making a great bartender. It’s a demanding job with a high rate of turnover, judging by the new names on this year’s list. Let me just extend a hearty “thank you” to all of you who have been nominated in the past, and congratulations to those of you nominated this year. You all provide an indispensable service to our community, and I’ll drop by to settle my tab with you soon.

Some of these bars are famous and glitzy to go with a black tie or pumps; while others, more workaday, just have a good TV on which to watch a game with some friends. Still others give off a vibe that says, “Charles Bukowski would have liked it here.” Whatever your tastes, you can find a group of legal drinkers of any age, and from every social level and lifestyle at some saloon or another in Buffalo. So drink up! Here’s to the best joints in town!

buck quigley

Best Dive Bar

Allen Street Bar & Grill (hereafter referred to as The Old Pink)
Essex Street Pub
Mulligan’s Brick Bar

Best Neighborhood Pub

Essex Street Pub
Founding Fathers
Sterling Tavern
Mulligan’s Brick Bar

Best New Bar

The Wine Thief
Omega Lounge
Thirsty Buffalo
31 Club

Best Upscale Bar

Left Bank
Snooty Fox
Chocolate Bar

Best Beer Selection

Pearl Street
Buffalo Brew Pub
Alternative Brews
Allen Street Hardware

Best Wine List

The Wine Thief
Just Vino
Allen Street Hardware

Best Gay-friendly bar

Cathode Ray
Club Marcella

Best Lesbian-friendly Bar

Miss Kitty’s
The Old Pink
Club Marcella

Best Happy Hour


Best Jukebox

The Old Pink
Essex Street Pub
JP Bullfeathers
Mulligan’s Brick Bar

Best Karaoke

Tudor Lounge
Garden Park Cafe
Klub Karaoke

Best Dance Club

Club Marcella
Club Paradise

Best Live Music

Mohawk Place
Sportsmen’s Tavern

Best Place to Shoot Pool

Essex Street Pub
Slick Willie’s
Pearl Street

Best Place to Throw Darts

Fat Bob’s
The Old Pink
Buffalo Brew Pub

Best Bowling Alley

Transit Lanes
Kenmore Lanes
Tonawanda Bowling Center

Best Place to Watch a Game

Warehouse Pizza Co.
Colter Bay
Pearl Street
Thirsty Buffalo

Best Cocktails

Goji Martini @ Blue Lantern
Tom & Jerry @ The Place
Honey Lavender Martini @ Sample
White Chocolate Martini @ Chocolate Bar
Dirty Martini @ Cecelia’s

Best Female Bartender

Jenn Parker @ Diablo
Jamie @ Roxy’s
Amber Faulkner @ JP Bullfeathers
Amie Zinzola @ Mulligans
Jennifer @ Underground

Best Male Bartender

Pat @ Hardware
Jimmy @ Cathode Ray
Vinny DeMarco @ Liars
Stave Zador @ JP Bullfeathers
John Gannon @ Omega Lounge

Best of Buffalo 2009 Nominations

Mysteries of BuffaloThe Way We EatThe Way We Drink
Where We ShopOur Kind of MusicThese are Our People
Our Culture, Great and SmallThis is Our Town

And the Winners Are...

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