Can you recall a time when you walked into a retail store or restaurant and were instantly consumed by its unique sense of place? This is exactly what happened to me when I walked through the doors of 320 Pearl Street in downtown Buffalo. The initial shock of the shaggy-haired buffalo head mount on the wall was ephemeral, but the three-hours I spent chatting in Lucky Day Whiskey Bar with friends as other patrons, packed in like sardines around the small band and long bar top that reminded me of a scale model of a runway at Buffalo Niagara International, was cerebral and filled with let’s have a good time energy.
Lucky Day may very well be home to the largest whiskey and bourbon selection in all of Buffalo. I fought the urge to pull a matchbox from the velvet dinner jacket I wasn’t wearing and light up a Macanudo Prince of Wales as I sipped on my Four Roses Small Batch-infused Manhattan, which was delectable and sent a warm fuzzy feeling of satisfaction throughout my body.
The five vertical bar shelves at Lucky Day, which run length of that model runway bar I mentioned, tower above all who come before it. The bottle layout is an ethereal pattern of light and dark liquids lit up in clear and green and blue glass bottles of varying heights and shapes, each bottle sporting a label that makes it distinctly different from the others.
The restaurant walls look as though they’re covered floor to ceiling in elegant damask-patterned silk and ornately detailed with patterned flakes of gold. They’re not, of course. But the sense of place Lucky Day emits with upbeat jazz riffs filling the airwaves, brick pillars, massive age-old wood beams, and dark wooden tables that complement the candlelight ambience gave the impression that I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that the vintage wallpaper was in fact scrolled with gold.
In total there are three seating levels within Lucky Day: a mid-level where the bar sits, a central lower dining area, and upper catwalk seating that runs the length of the restaurant and looks out over the open space of the bar and main dining area. Lucky Day is filled with a warm, homey rustic feel with an added upscale twist that somehow avoid an air of pretension.
The restaurant filled quickly after our arrival at 6:30 p.m., and live music started sometime around 8. The bar area was slammed, and people were still waiting for tables when we regrettably got up from our table and called it a night at 9:30. From the limousines and party bus stationed on Pearl Street, many people were making the best of a brisk Saturday night. Lucky Day gave the impression that Buffalo is a very large and happening city. I have never before observed people in Buffalo restaurants with suitcases in tow, as is the norm in larger cities, but this was the case at Lucky Day. Unsurprisingly, the Hyatt Regency sits just across the street with The Westin just around the corner; so if you happen to overindulge, there’s an easy out.
My angus chuck and brisket burger was flavorful and satisfying, but the primary reason to visit Lucky Day is for the cocktails, the overall experience of the quaint atmosphere, the bustle and energy of fellow patrons, and the cocktails. Did I say cocktails already? If standalone bourbon or whiskey isn’t in your calling card, the cocktails are reason enough to plan a trip to Lucky Day. Pull out your phone and scan the supplied QR code, and as you scroll, the spirits list goes on and on and on… and on.
With a jaw-dropping 166 whiskeys, 130 bourbons, and 120 scotches from seven different regions of Scotland, you will certainly need a bit of luck to find your perfect spirit. And in the spirit of the Lucky Day name, you are encouraged to keep an open mind and try something new in hopes that luck will eventually come your way. Prices cover a wide range with many around $4-10 per one-ounce pour. But if you’re feeling adventurous and can afford it, prized pours like Whistle Pig Boss Hog 14 rye whiskey will run you $84/pour, and Pappy Van Winkle 23 Year bourbon runs $90/pour. Cocktails start at $11.
I settled on an old fashioned made with Four Roses Small Batch, one of my favorite bourbons. What is nice is that you can select which spirit you’d like in your cocktail, although there is an up-charge depending on choice. We enjoyed oysters with our meal, and while we didn’t find any pearls tucked away inside, we did find them in the street name we sat along and the Manhattans we palmed and toiled with atop the table throughout our evening of conversation.
If whiskey or bourbon is your thing, Lucky Day Whiskey Bar is a place you must check out. And if your experience is anything like mine, you’ll be likely to return.
What’s your favorite cocktail and at which restaurant/s in Buffalo do you enjoy it? Follow Eat Local New York on Instagram and Facebook and let us know!
Lucky Day Whiskey Bar: http://www.luckydaywhiskeybar.com/