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“Herd” on over to downtown’s newest stop: Bar Buffalo

November 13, 2018

Visiting Bar Buffalo on opening night was a good decision. Downtown’s newest cocktail bar, which serves a full menu of food, opened on Saturday, Oct. 20.

Earlier that day, I’d attended a wedding, followed by a celebration filled with beer and dancing just across the street from the bar’s new home at 20 3rd St. SW.

After that much merriment, a nightcap seemed appropriate.

Maybe I can chalk some of the good vibes up to meeting up with old friends — people who have all written or photographed for the Post Bulletin — and having a blast with them for the past eight or so hours. But Bar Buffalo had me in a good place.

It wasn’t overly packed for a Saturday night, so we found a table by the window with a view of a chandelier. Bar Buffalo is dark. The most lit area is the bar, and the bottles look like little beacons of salvation.

Not everyone ordered gin at Rochester’s new gin bar – it is clear this place isn’t just for nerds of the juniper spirit.

The table had some gin, some water, and some beer, like Toppling Goliath’s always top-notch Pseudo Sue (citra hops for life).

Speaking of beer, Bar Buffalo is the first place to have Little Thistle’s Brave Woman on tap, a scotch ale.

But, since I was in a gin bar, I ordered the Smoked Gimlet, attracted by the description of smoked cherrywood.

Then I watched as a torch and piece of wood materialized in the making of my cocktail.

I wanted more cherrywood flavor, but it was really interesting to see the glass actually smoked on cherrywood. As in, a piece of wood is torched until the embers glow, the smoke is trapped in a glass, and the liquid is poured into it.

The flavor that really shines is citrus fruit, which makes sense. The Bluecoat gin — quite possibly the restaurant’s most popular offering, a barkeep told me — provided a lot of citrus flavor. Add some lime juice, and you have a treat that is brimming with fruit flavor.

About a week and a half later, I went back on Halloween night. Someone in a rabbit suit showed up with an ID that had a photo of his rabbit suit taped to it. It was pretty chill at the bar until the bunny came in with an entourage of costumed patrons.

The tables were packed with people. And there was a good mix of both beer and gin being imbibed. It was much quieter before the costumes came in, but lively.

Though I always feel the allure of a Pseudo Sue, I went for another cocktail as the bunny told a bad joke about a buffalo and a rabbit.

This time I ordered the Espresso Negroni.

The aviator gin and Campari worked in tandem to give off intense citrus aroma and flavor. The mix of liquors gave off some smokiness, and a little bit of spice — almost like a subtle cinnamon and cardamom mix — before sliding into an herbal vibe. The Café Frieda from Du Nord in Minneapolis is an absolute treat. You may as well be drinking actual coffee as the liquor provides an insanely espresso-heavy finish.

While I usually go for beer, I find the gin cocktails to be interesting — especially when you see how the floral, pine, and citrus notes can be so different. Hopefully this is one buffalo that can be kept around for years to come.

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