Shaken, stirred, or straight up? How do you like your spirits? When it comes to craft cocktails, we have one preference. We like ours local. Crafting a cocktail is an art, and Buffalo is blessed with many gifted mixologists. From timeless classics to creative new recipes, these bars pour to impress.
Buffalo’s craft cocktail scene is really really impressive, aka choosing favorites is challenging and/or nearly impossible, but here it goes. In no particular order, here’s our guide to the best craft cocktail bars in WNY. Cocktail connoisseurs, this one’s for you!
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Don’t let the exterior fool you; this old-fashioned tavern is known for its refined craft cocktails. Think chill meets crafty right in the heart of the Cobblestone District. At Ballyhoo, they serve tried-and-true classics made to original specs, but their “Jam Sessions” are what set them apart. These drinks are shaken to fit your flavor preferences. You pick a preserve and your favorite spirit, and the bartenders add their own house-made mixes and garnishes. The result? Ultra-unique cocktails!
2. Billy Club
When it comes to classy cocktails in Allentown, Billy Club stands out from the bunch. Since opening, this whiskey bar has been known for offering more upscale food and drink options. With a collection of nearly 100 whiskies, the selection is simply brilliant and the cocktails (whiskey-based or not) are always carefully crafted. Plus, the modern space itself sets Billy Club apart from the rest of the bars in the historic district. Read more about Billy Club in our article, New: Billy Club Raises the Bar in Allentown.
Buffalo Distilling Company’s roots as a grain to glass establishment dating all the way back to 1883. This distillery is best known for their line of One Foot Cock spirits and a long-time favorite among locals in Larkinville. The cocktail choices include drinks made with bourbon, brandy, vodka, moonshine, and of course krupnik. Another fun fact, since they are a NYS farm distillery, all their cocktails are made with their own spirits and/or NYS distilled spirits. Read more about Buffalo Distilling in our article, You Can Try The World’s First Award-Winning Krupnik at Buffalo Distilling.
1213 Ridge Rd, Buffalo, NY 14218 / More Info
Don’t let the neon beer signs fool you. Winfield’s Pub may not look like the typical craft cocktail destination from the outside, but any craft cocktail connoisseur who’s been here will tell you it’s worth the short drive to Lackawanna. Winfield’s is known for its uniquely crafted in-house recipes.
From the very beginning, the cocktail menu has been built around pairing with aperitifs and digestifs. This makes sense since they have an excellent selection of shareables here. If you’re looking for a flavor experience, this urban nook is tucked away in Black Rock is worth a visit. Balance is really one of their strong suits. The overall vibe is a good mix of upscale and eclectic, much like the cocktails.
6. West Rose
23 Washington St, Ellicottville, NY 14731 / More Info
West Rose is a local ingredient driven restaurant which means the menu here is inspired by what’s in season. This same care goes into the cocktails you’ll find here. Their cocktail menu includes both classics and West Rose originals including natural flavors of lemon, lime, and honey.
The wood-fired pizzas here are perfection. But Hydraulic Hearth is so much more than a pizza place, it’s a craft cocktail destination. In a word, the cocktail menu here is diverse. By getting creative with flavor profiles, switching up the base spirit, and upping their garnish game, Hydraulic takes crafting cocktails to a whole new level. Come summertime, sipping a craft beverage in the beer garden is #goals.
1503 Hertel Ave, Buffalo, NY 14216 / 5933 Main St. Williamsville, NY 14221 / More Info
Every local knows Lloyd as Buffalo’s first food truck. And yes, they have a full fleet of trucks. But over the years the Lloyd brand has evolved into so much more. Their brick-and-mortar locations on Hertel Avenue and on Main Street in Williamsville have fully stocked bars run by master mixologists. Beyond the classic (and expected) margaritas, micheladas, and palomas, you’ll find a different variety of colorful, creative beverages depending on the season.
What’s not to love about Lockhouse? After all, Lockhouse is the first distillery to operate in Buffalo, N.Y. since prohibition. So naturally, we have been completely obsessed since day one. When it comes to crafting fine artisanal spirits, these guys are doing it oh so right. Their flagship and seasonal spirits make a tasty base for all sorts of creative cocktails and mocktails. Their Revolution Coffee Liqueur received national recognition because this boozy caffeinated combo is perfection in a bottle.
Walking inside this cocktail lounge feels like you’re stepping into another era. The bar is stocked from ceiling to floor with hundreds of different types of whiskey from all over the world. This whiskey library is anything and everything any whiskey drinker could ever hope for. Regardless of whether you drink your whiskey neat, fancy an old-fashioned, or prefer yours with a splash of lemonade, this cocktail menu will accommodate. The vibes here are cozy, yet classy. Plus, there’s live blues music.
11. Marble + Rye
The bar is fully stocked with all sorts of spirits, but as the “rye” in the restaurant’s name suggests, there is a focus on rye at this cocktail bar. If you love rye, you’re in luck. If you don’t, we think you’ll still appreciate this. The farm-fresh focus from the kitchen extends behind the bar, where you’ll find lots of fresh, seasonal ingredients, including syrups made in house and locally grown garnishes. As for the menu itself, you’ll find drinks ranging from sweet and citrus to bitter and floral.
If your love affair with this gem started after one look at the stylish interior, you’re in good company. The open concept kitchen paired with a soft color palette and natural lighting is #everything. Much like the food, the cocktails are bright, flavorful, and made with fresh local ingredients. This place is most definitely a favorite happy hour destination in Hamburg. Once this counter calls your name, there’s really no going back.
Panorama is a long-time staple in the local cocktail scene. They’ve been serving classics for years and coming up with their own signature drinks, too. Between the porthole infusers behind the bar and the next-level garnishes, the cocktail crew is super duper creative. Really these master mixologists think of everything, even tiny little details like creating Buffalo-shaped cutouts in their cucumber garnishes. Plus the view from here is picture-perfect. And yes, it’s a panoramic view of Canalside and Downtown.
115 W Center St, Medina, NY 14103 / More Info
This charming spot in Medina is a cafe during the day and cocktail bar at night. And yes, that’s becoming a thing. Less than a year ago, these folks decided to add a cocktail menu to the mix. It was an instant hit. The cocktails here combine fresh local flavors and all sorts of spirits. The farm fresh focus is evident. Really though. For their latest farm-to-table event, they created seven brand-new drinks including one with an edible corn-husk “glass.”
Toutant is known for its upscale Southern comfort food. The drink menu is designed to complement this style quite perfectly. You’ll find a hand-selected library of bourbons, whiskeys, and moonshine here. Cocktail wise, you can expect everything from iconic classics to seasonal creations to French Quarter-style frozen daiquiris. Basically, you’ll feel like you’re eating and drinking somewhere down south without ever leaving the city.
55 Chicago St, Buffalo, NY 14204 / More Info
Hartman’s is all about community and togetherness and feels that nothing brings people together, more than fine spirits and craft cocktails. As a distillery, Hartman’s creates their own spirits to be used in their craft cocktails.
537 Main St, Buffalo, NY 14203 / More Info
Located in the heart of downtown Buffalo, Graylynn’s a gin bar focused on gin-based cocktails. Graylynn has quite the list of craft cocktails with over 100 gin concoctions on their menu!
27 Chandler St, Buffalo, NY 14207 / More Info
Located in the Black Rock neighborhood of Buffalo, Waxlight Bar Ã Vin is a modern wine and cocktail restaurant. The cocktails here include classic cocktails as well as new creations made with citrus notes paired with gin and rum. Plus, they have non-alcoholic options too!
9 E Washington St, Ellicottville, NY 14731 / More Info
Born out of an old bank, The Banq is an upscale cocktail lounge with art deco accents. Here, you’ll feel llike you are stepping back in time with an old fashioned cocktail.
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This post was originally published in 2020 and has been updated.