The Ultimate Date Night

BY Peyton Garcia


The Ultimate Date Night

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When we hosted the 2022 Ritual Cocktail Competition, it was to raise a glass to local dining and beverage experiences that offer more than just food and drinks. We wanted to celebrate the true essence of signature service by asking local mixologists to give us a taste of their most honored tableside cocktail traditions. Now that they’ve shown us what they’ve got to offer, we wanted to know: Where do they go to find hospitality at its finest? 

Here’s what the four finalists of Ritual had to say:

1st Place Winner: Giovanni Floramonte, Adrift Tiki Bar

See Giovanni’s winning cocktail experience here

“My favorite extraordinary dining experience? That’s a really hard one because there are so many! My favorites are: 

Ace Eat Serve: Chef Thach’s food is AMAZING, their DJ brunch is fun,  they make a delicious Bloody Mary, and have a great happy hour and happy bartenders!

Osteria Marco: For phenomenal pizza (that’s bigger than it should be for happy hour) and a dog-friendly patio on beautiful Larimer Square (which also makes for great people watching).

 Wide Right: I’m from Western New York, and their Buffalo, NY theme and food is the best nostalgia. They have great stand-up comedy, bubble hockey, Buffalo Bills mafia and Buffalo Sabres fans at full force during games, great shots, and a wonderful Blood Mary. Meghan DePonceau is a great owner and the bartenders are always friendly. 

Honorable mentions are Blue Sushi Sake Grill (another good Bloody Mary and Samurai movies at the bar) and The Crypt (punk and other rock music and horror décor) for their yummy vegan food! 

If I’m going out for cocktails, I like Honey Elixir Bar and The L. Honey is unique, cozy, intimate, friendly, and 18+. You’ve gotta try the cacao shots! The L has great bartenders, a great location on S. Broadway, and usually the crowd is fun and excited.”

2nd Place Winner: Jacob Pike, Guard & Grace

See Jacob’s winning cocktail experience here

“Me and my wife’s favorite date night spot is Stoic & Genuine. The atmosphere and fun shareable crudos are absolutely perfect for a couples dinner. Plus, they’ve got some of the freshest oysters in the city with a unique presinatation. Then off to Slashers, a horror-themed bar with high-end cocktails, with crazy cool bar staff, and even cooler garnishes perfect for this time of year.”    

3rd Place Winner: Drew Stevens, Green Russell

See Drew’s winning cocktail experience here

“I’m not so sure that I have a favorite ‘date night’ spot to be honest. My girlfriend and I always try to pick a new spot and actually keep a list of restaurants that we want to check out on our refrigerator at home. That being said, two of our favorite experiences have been The Fifth String and Wildflower. Both restaurants definitely did not disappoint. 

Starting off with The Fifth String, I thought that the tallow candle bread service was a really cool touch to elevate the experience. Being from Virginia, I’ve definitely had my fair share of fried green tomatoes, but never in an elevated way, so that was a fantastic addition, as well. Our entrées were delicious too! 

Then there was Wildflower. I feel like hotel restaurants can be hit or miss, and this one was definitely a hit. I loved the look of the restaurant, and the mesh of Italian and Mexican influences, and all of the gorgeous wood paneling inside. We started off with the Frontier Fog (a milk-washed gin, Earl Grey, lavender, and lemon cocktail) and The Beauty (their house rose martini served underneath a cloche that reminded me of the rose from Beauty & the Beast). Our appetizers were fantastic, and the entrées were incredible. I think the most fascinating thing that we had was dessert, though. It was a corn three ways semifreddo cannoli, and the amount of flavors was honestly thought-provoking. The service was also fantastic, and even though it was really busy, the acoustics of the room made it quiet and downtempo, which I thought was a good touch for a date spot. Once we cross everything off of our list, I imagine we’ll definitely be returning there.” 

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Peyton Garcia