I, Madame Barfly, am here to help you with all of your booze-loving needs. As a ten-year veteran of the restaurant business, I’ve learned a worthy trick or two. In this monthly column I share trade secrets and scope out what’s shaking at local bars.

Madame Barfly: Mixing Beer? Have Fear
Feb03

Madame Barfly: Mixing Beer? Have Fear

Naturally, I was really excited about the whole beer cocktail thing. Beer is good, and cocktails are good, so how can we go wrong, right? As it turns out, some beer cocktails are good and others are downright disgusting. The Beerhunter and I put our booze brains together to see if we could come up with any tasty beer cocktails. It’s more challenging than we’d anticipated — beer has a flavor profile that frequently doesn’t play well...

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Tips for Getting Tipsy
Dec07

Tips for Getting Tipsy

Some of us don’t get out much. I’m lookin’ at you, worshiper of the porcelain goddess. You look like you could use some help. Most adults have learned how to hold their liquor, while others of all ages are still learning. Plus, braving the crowds isn’t always easy. Don’t worry, Madame Barfly has spent enough time on both sides of the bar to know a few things about sending the night off right. ∎ Do catch your bartender’s eye at a busy...

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Madame Barfly: Pumpkin and Bone Marrow
Nov09

Madame Barfly: Pumpkin and Bone Marrow

Nothing tastes like fall more than a pumpkin martini, unless it’s a pumpkin martini with a bone marrow bar snack. The Federal fine dining restaurant and pub in Agawam serves such tasty treats, but with an $11 price tag on the cocktail “Son of a Pumpkin” I was skeptical of its ability to live up to the cost. I can’t recall tasting a pumpkin martini that wasn’t overly creamy, sugary, or just plain gross. I was happy to note, just by...

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Madame Barfly: Bubbles! Burps aside, this Spiked Seltzer is pretty good
Oct13

Madame Barfly: Bubbles! Burps aside, this Spiked Seltzer is pretty good

Bigger cities may have had a taste of Spiked Seltzer last year, but it made its first big splash in the Valley this summer — packies were having a hard time keeping it on the shelves. “It’s been really popular,” says one manager at Liquors 44 in Northampton of the Norwalk, Connecticut brand. “It’s the first unique thing that’s come out in a while.” The canned and bottled beer that’s not a beer — its six-percent alcohol content and...

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Madame Barfly: A Hard Shake, there’s a new bar jockey in Amherst
Sep14

Madame Barfly: A Hard Shake, there’s a new bar jockey in Amherst

Sitting down at Osteria Vespa’s bar for the first time, I’m surprised to find there’s no cocktail list. Josh Draghe, the soft-spoken, knowledgeable, and impeccably polite head bartender directs my gaze to a nearby board where staffers have handwritten signature cocktails in multi-colored chalk. The board offers little detail, but there’s no need for written information with Draghe around. He rattles off the cocktails’ ingredients and...

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Madame Barfly: Hope and Olive in Greenfield serves drinks to your health
Aug19

Madame Barfly: Hope and Olive in Greenfield serves drinks to your health

Jim Zaccara says his bar is an appletini-free zone. Zaccara, 45, grew up working in restaurants, and bartending was always his forte. When he began making his own style of cocktail at his first full-bar restaurant — Hope and Olive in Greenfield — eight years ago, he didn’t know he was stepping into the craft cocktail phenomenon. He simply knew he wanted his bar menu to be reasonably healthy, which for him meant meant free of...

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