This 115-year-old building is home to a craft brewery, distillery and walk-up cucina

The Barrel Factory in the Old First Ward

photo from The Barrel Factory

By Amy Brooks, BDC Editor

When you drive up to The Barrel Factory in Buffalo's First Ward, you can tell it’s going to be a good time. The building is three stories of brick, wrought iron and warm lighting with a patio made for spring days and summer nights overlooking a field with abandoned railroad tracks that somehow makes the scene more peaceful.

While there is a note of serenity to the scene, the building, located just down the street from the Buffalonian landmark that is Gene McCarthy’s Pub, there is ample opportunity for a good time. Stepping inside, you’ll be presented with options. Want to get a bite? Play a board game? Order drinks?

We suggest doing all three.

Lakeward Spirits

Lakeward Spirits bottles

 photo from The Barrel Factory

If you’re looking for artisanal whiskey, vodka, gin and infusions made locally with sustainability in mind, then make Lakeward Spirits your first move.

Enjoy a signature cocktail like The Bee’s Knees made with Wild or Evergreen Gin, fresh lemon and honey lemongrass syrup or order a drink off of the recently released spring cocktail menu.

The hardest choice is deciding where to sit. You could stay at the bar and chat with the staff, move to one of the tables where you have a better view of the bronze distilling equipment in the next room, or head outside to the patio. There’s TWO levels.

Pressure Drop Brewing

Lakeward Spirits and Pressure Drop Brewing

 photo from The Barrel Factory

Lakeward Spirits shares the bar with Pressure Drop Brewing. Craft beer aficionados, you definitely want this beer list in your life. With options ranging from the Strummer Belgian Blonde to Buckstar Coffee Cream Porter to Death Lettuce Double IPA, there is something for every pallet.

You can choose your favorite style while your friends sip on cocktails or choose four different brews to build your own tasting flight.

Buffalo’s Best Cucina

Buffalo's Best Cucina

 photo from The Barrel Factory

What’s a good drink without some food to go with it? Luckily for anyone who came hungry, Buffalo’s Best Cucina is serving up food made for barside snacking. If you’re hanging out at the bar, leave your drinks with your friend and head just across the lobby to order your food.

The European-style walk-up cucina boasts a menu that includes pizzas, salads, paninis, four kinds of gouda mac and cheese and small plates.

We recommend the Tuna Cucina small plate. It’s tuna poke - raw tuna served over rice with sweet peppers, scallions and Hawaiian Teriyaki sauce.  If fish isn’t your thing, go for a Buffalo Chicken pizza complete with blue cheese, gorgonzola and, of course, hot sauce.

No need to worry about waiting. When you order, let the cook know where you’ll be sitting and he’ll bring it over to you.

If you decide that you’d rather pair your food with kombucha, have a seat at one of the eclectic tables sprawled throughout the lobby, instead.

Snowy Owl Kombucha

Photo from Instagram @snowyowlko

 photo from Instagram @snowyowlko

Photo from Instagram @snowyowlko

Sitting right next to Buffalo’s Best Cucina is Snowy Owl Kombucha. For those not familiar with this particularly trendy drink, Kombucha is a fermented, effervescent tea. While some may call it an acquired taste, the variety of flavors and fizzy nature of the beverage make it a drink that is fun and guilt-free.

The drink is best known for its health benefits like promoting digestive health, anti-inflammatory properties and B vitamins for an energy boost.

Snowy Owl’s particular concoctions are sweet and drinkable – especially when turned into kombucha slushies!

You can buy a cup to drink there, or fill a growler to take home. Not sure about the flavors? Ask for a sample and they’ll be happy to let you taste-test first!

Games, Activities and More!

The Barrel Factory isn’t all food and drinks, there’s board games, kayak rentals and tours, and even a second-floor event space.

With even more coming soon, it’s a great place to go and spend the day eating well, enjoying drinks and having fun!


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