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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Madame Barfly: Summertime and the Drinkin’s Easy
Jul22

Madame Barfly: Summertime and the Drinkin’s Easy

For every season there is a drink. Just as beer nuts ditch cold-weather porters and quads to settle their summertime cravings for IPAs and light brews, cocktail sippers also change their choice of beverage with the heat. Fruity, delicious cocktails enjoyed on the porch are to summer as sipping bourbon by the fire is to winter. Here are some suggestions for satisfying your boozy summer urges. Sit back, sip, relax, and let your work day...

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Madame Bar Fly: Springfield’s Cheers, Serving up charm, good company, and cheap booze at the Ale House
Jun23

Madame Bar Fly: Springfield’s Cheers, Serving up charm, good company, and cheap booze at the Ale House

The Ale House on Worthington Street in Springfield is surrounded by boarded-up buildings that loom ominously up over the small, cozy one that the bar occupies. But inside, the vibe is warm and welcoming. “It’s somewhere you can go in Springfield where you don’t have to worry about the issues of Springfield,” says Robert Walz, 45, a professional mover who lives around the corner. “You don’t have to worry about getting shot.” That may...

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Madame Barfly: In Bloom, Easthampton’s Coco serves up some simple heaven
May27

Madame Barfly: In Bloom, Easthampton’s Coco serves up some simple heaven

The fact that Coco and the Cellar Bar’s best-selling cocktail is their ginger margarita is a testament to why people pack this place: simple delights. This tasty cocktail is exactly what you’d expect it to be. Spicy fresh ginger is added to the classic margarita trio — tequila, cointreau, and lime. No more; no less. When married chefs Unmi Abkin and Roger Taylor opened Coco in November of 2011, veteran bartender Moira Taylor hopped...

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Madame Barfly: By the Light of the Night ‘True shine’ moonshine made right in our backyard
Apr28

Madame Barfly: By the Light of the Night ‘True shine’ moonshine made right in our backyard

After getting laid off, 32-year printing press veteran Scott Santaniello decided to move into an industry that always seems to stand the test of time: booze, baby. Two years ago, Santaniello, a 51-year-old life-long resident of Springfield, got a distiller’s license, launched Copper Moon and started making corn whiskey, better known as moonshine, out of rented space in the basement of the Indian Orchard Mills building. He says it’s...

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Madame Barfly: The Craft, The Green Room’s head mixologist stirs things up
Apr01

Madame Barfly: The Craft, The Green Room’s head mixologist stirs things up

A cocktail revolution that’s been percolating in major cities has finally made its way to Northampton in earnest: craft cocktails. A craft cocktail is exactly what it sounds like — a craft unto itself. It’s more than expensive alcoholic liquids poured into a glass. Between all the muddling, straining and spritzing, a craft cocktail requires step-by-step instructions for those making it for the first time. It requires a recipe, as it...

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Dive! Five unpolished gems with cheap drinks and charm to spare.
Mar03

Dive! Five unpolished gems with cheap drinks and charm to spare.

Everyone has a favorite dive bar; a place you can go in your old jeans and sweater, have a beer for under $3 and watch some “Wheel of Fortune” with townies looking to unwind. Dive bars — and we use the term lovingly — tend to be physically and metaphysically secluded. Signs are minimal and the website, if it even exists, barely functions. The good ones are tucked away like unpolished backstreet gems. Last week, Advocate writers took...

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Madame Barfly: Mix It Up, Take a Shot
Mar03

Madame Barfly: Mix It Up, Take a Shot

Shots cut to the chase. Whether you need some quick courage for that karaoke performance or don’t want a drink that sloshes on your dancing shoes, shots are great when you want to get that buzz rolling in one fell shoot. So, why not make it delicious? When it comes to shots, many — myself included — have been known to simply go for the hard stuff, straight up. But mixed shots can be fun, and absolutely delicious, when the moment calls...

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Madame Barfly: Well Booze or the High Road? When you’re young and/or broke it can be tempting to drink the cheapest booze around
Feb04

Madame Barfly: Well Booze or the High Road? When you’re young and/or broke it can be tempting to drink the cheapest booze around

We’ve all heard the rumors about the havoc cheap booze can wreak, but is that even true? Can you drink inexpensive alcohol all night without head-pounding, toilet-hugging consequences? The downside to drinking cheap alcohol is considerable: principal among the drawbacks are bad taste and hangovers. Certain my tongue could tell the difference between a bar’s cheapest “well” alcohol and the most expensive liquor, I headed to Packards in...

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Madam Barfly: A Festival of (Getting) Lit
Dec18

Madam Barfly: A Festival of (Getting) Lit

I, Madame Barfly, am here to help you with all of your booze-loving needs. As a nine-year veteran of the restaurant business, I’ve learned a worthy trick or two. In this monthly column I’ll share trade secrets and scope out what’s shaking at local bars. Craft cocktails are all the rage right now — bartenders everywhere are using complicated, multiple-item recipes and house infusions to put a personal, artisanal...

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Madam Barfly: A Festival of (Getting) Lit
Dec10

Madam Barfly: A Festival of (Getting) Lit

I, Madame Barfly, am here to help you with all of your booze-loving needs. As a nine-year veteran of the restaurant business, I’ve learned a worthy trick or two. In this monthly column I’ll share trade secrets and scope out what’s shaking at local bars. Craft cocktails are all the rage right now — bartenders everywhere are using complicated, multiple-item recipes and house infusions to put a personal, artisanal stamp on their...

Read More