Festive buzz, Part I: Encore - PHOTOS
blog by Thea Tio • December 12, 2013 @ 11:01am
There are few things I love than sipping on a Tom and Jerry at The Place on a frosty winter night.
For this Festive Buzz series, however, I’ll venture to other locations that also serve up attractive seasonal alcoholic beverages.
Located in Buffalo’s downtown theater district, Encore—stationed at 492 Pearl St., Buffalo—celebrates its fifth anniversary this December. You can track down the restaurant’s full menu here, if interested.
When I stopped in, head bartender Danny Letteri mixed a few of the drinks that Encore has to offer during the winter season.
“We think of different liqueurs and flavor profiles that people normally don’t try, because if that was the case, you could make something like that at home,” said co-owner Dale Segal. “We try to do something different, creative and obviously has to taste good too.”
First up is the Fireplace Martini ($8) which is appropriately named considering there are five fireplaces scattered throughout the entire restaurant.
The Fireplace Martini (pictured both left and above, right) has vanilla vodka, Kahlua, Tres Leches Triple Cream Liqueur, spiced rum, pumpkin cream liqueur and chocolate shavings with a graham-cracker rim. To further the theme, a flaming marshmallow is lit by a mini blowtorch and situated atop the beverage. Why not?
“This is one of our make-you-feel-warm inside martinis for the holiday season. It has a little bit of everything but it’s not too sweet,” said Segal.
If you’re hesitant to choose a drink that involves a flame in front of you, the American Pie ($8) (pictured below, right) could be a more conservative seasonal alternative for those with an unsteady hand (or slightly hazy vision!).
Spiced rum, apple sake, St. Germain, cinnamon syrup and ginger beer are all mixed together and served up in a mason jar.
A thick apple slice and a cinnamon stick garnish the top of the jar, while the ginger beer gives this drink an effervescent kick that’s a little sweet and spicy.
Segal and his bar staff love to experiment with unusual flavors, and what might have started as a mistake actually launched a whole new branch of the drink menu.
“We came up with a drink three years ago called the Blue Duck,” Segal recalled. “It looked great, sounded good on paper, but when it came to actually drinking it, it wasn’t the biggest success. So we took that off the menu but came up with an entire bubbly section out of the Blue Duck idea,” said Segal.
Encore’s Bubbly drink section is champagne or sparkling inspired with ingredients such as sparkling wine or rose.
“We have an Elderflower Martini ($10) that’s champagne and St. Germain, which makes any champagne taste good. It’s unbelievable,” Segal added.
Another drink part of the Bubbly menu is the Strawberry Champagne Mojito ($10) inspired by New Year’s. The Champagne Mojito has fresh lime and strawberry juice, mint leaves, simple syrup and, of course, champagne for that fizzy effect that tickles the back of your throat.
The most popular drink ordered by women at Encore? The Stiletto ($9), which has mango rum, passion fruit liqueur, pineapple juice, fresh lime and cranberry.
Another favorite among both sexes is the Alexandria, which has Hendrick’s Gin (infused with cucumber and rose petals), Cointreau, St. Germain, lemon juice and simple syrup.
If you’re still intrigued by the fiery marshmallow you saw pictured earlier in the post, you’re not forced into the Fireplace Martini.
Even though Thanksgiving has passed, the Pumpkin Pie Martini (pictured right) and tastes exactly as you’d expect—consider it an extension of fall so you can wistfully drift off and dream that there are leaves still on the trees.
Encore will host its annual holiday party, the Winter Gala, at 8 p.m. on Dec. 23.
For $20, you can try any of the holiday beverages mentioned above and enjoy hors d’oeuvres like steak tips with gorgonzola cheese. There’ll also be martini, cocktail, mojito and margarita drink stations set up.
“It’s a chance for people to experience not just your regular old open bar, it’s something different to try,” said Segal.
If you can’t hit the Winter Gala, there’s always happy hour at Encore is from 5 to 8 p.m.which includes a two-for-one martini special.
Want to read more by Thea Tio? You can browse her “Soup Sleuth” series here.