When Hartman’s Distilling Co. first opened in the historic Cooperage building in the city’s Old First Ward back in 2019, owner Justin Hartman told me that he had another big surprise in store. Fast forward a couple of years, and that surprise has now been surreptitiously unveiled. It’s called The Barrel Room – Hartman’s speakeasy-esque ‘private’ bourbon room that is located on the back side of the tasting floor’s main bar.
Tucked away is a masterfully designed nook that is dedicated to some of the finest bourbons in the land, including, of course, Hartman’s own distilled bourbon.
On a rainy night, a few of us stopped on over to Hartman’s to see if we could get a peek at the cozy new addition. We were in luck – Justin was in the house and invited us to tour the accommodations. Once inside, we were immediately taken with the impressive space that was heavily dominated by a subdued color palette, dark wood, brass accents, and atmospheric lighting.
The Barrel Room is an intimate setting that is perfect for a night out on the town with friends who enjoy the finer things in life. At the same time, Justin has made the experience affordable, for those that aren’t quite up to speed with their bourbon acumen. Therefore, there are over 100 bourbons that cost $6 or less, per ounce. Justin felt that it was important to ensure that everyone is offered a chance to enjoy the intimate experience, without feeling intimidated.
All in, The Barrel Room features a whopping 270+ bourbons, ranging the gamut of ages, origins, flavor profiles, and prices. I asked Justin to rattle off a couple of his holy grails (for those who are really into the bourbon scene), and he deftly mentioned, “We have the E.H. Taylor Warehouse C, several Four Roses Limited Editions, and the Old Forester Birthday Bourbon. We have some pretty unique stuff for those who appreciate it.”
While the bourbons are the stars of the show at The Barrel Room, there are plenty of other beer, wine, and drink options available, including a couple of Justin’s favorite cocktails:
Room 237 – Mexican Gin, Lillet “Bleu”, Montenegro Amaro, Citrus Bubbles, served with a Rubber Ducky that the customer is asked to name before taking home
The Korova – Bone Marrow Washed Whiskey, Rooibos + Chai Milk Tea, Vanilla Paste, Barreled Maple (Justin’s top pick)
You won’t find the menu for The Barrel Room online, because “…half of the fun is the surprise,” Justin told me. “The presentation is incredible – we want people to see it firsthand, not online. It’s super unique and creative… and a bit secretive at the same time. It’s a real experience. This is not a party bar – it seats approximately 20 people, give or take, in a small intimate, organic experience. There’s a dedicated bartender, a floater, and a host. We ask that guests keep their eyes peeled for some ‘Easter eggs’ that add to the experience.”
As for the food, guests can expect to find a small assortment of novel samplings, such as:
Roasted Bone Marrow – Cherrywood smoked belly jam, maple + rye mustard seed 16 *add Buffalo Trace bourbon luge 6
Tartare – Wagyu, cornichon, garlic crema, cured yolk, crostini
You’ve probably guessed by now that The Barrel Room is one of the most unique bar experiences in Buffalo, on par with some of the top bourbon bars found in larger metropolitan cities.
That said, it’s probably best that you make a reservation online, although they do accept walk-ins if there’s still room. They also book the room for private parties.
And the most important thing? “Everyone will leave with a smile,” said Justin.
I’m already smiling, just thinking about this curated experience. I’m also thinking of a few of my friends who will be just as excited as I am to try this place out, when the mood to conduct some exploratory bourbon sampling strikes.
Hartman’s Barrel Room @ Hartman’s Distilling Co. | 55 Chicago St, Buffalo, NY 14204 | 716-555-4321
Featuring the Wines of Mark Ryan and Angela Osborne
Hours to start:
Friday 7 p.m. – 1 a.m.
Saturday 7 p.m. – 1 a.m.
Images: Sarah Bridgeman Photography