Mixology, in the former Royal Pheasant on Forest Avenue, overlooking the resplendent Richardson Complex, is a lot of things. It is comfortable. It is welcoming. It is full of conversation starters.
It is also hyperactively lit, by no fewer than 50 colored light bulbs (I rounded up). It is decorated with what certain foodies would recognize as an overwhelming amount of "flair": lots of decorations, from lots of different places, in lots of different styles. "Lots" is a fitting word. I don't know where to begin, and they don't know where to stop.
But this isn't a complaint.
If you consider the fact that its predecessor was one of Buffalo's most beloved dives, adored for its hard drinks and lobster tails, then you can contemplate that anything poised to take over its hallowed grounds would be a letdown.
New owners take the smart route and go 180 degrees in the exactly opposite direction. This old pheasant is a snowbird, it turns out. Everything about Mixology screams Florida. Depending on your cartographical predilections, it might scream Miami Beach, or it might scream Tallahassee. Perhaps even old Havana, across the pond. Either way, it's screaming and it's spring break.
The drinks are another thing. On my recent visit, owner John, who is said to teach classes in mixology (clever name in academia, not so much in business), offered the house martini. I expected something dry and fierce, something my Aunt Charlotte would have kicked back while humming a little Sinatra. I received the ingredients of a bulk candy binge bag. I was told it had grapefruit vodka, white cranberry juice, St. Germain, something with peach. The pink grapefruit garnish offered more pizazz.
Now I can forgive creative licenses, and I do love citrus. But where this gets off calling itself a martini, I haven't a clue. The rest of the cocktails menu says hello to some old regulars and a few unmistakable newbies.
The Royal Pheasant Old Fashioned is back, and not bad. Each of the three people in my party received a different whiskey in their version (Maker's Mark, Crown Royal and Jack Daniels, to be clear), without explanation. Very odd. All three were serviceable in their austerity, if inconsistent in their preparation.
Another one we didn't try, only because they were out of a key ingredient, was the Steak Dinner. This has Tuaca vanilla citrus, lime juice and Worcestershire sauce. A larger drink menu is on the way, we were told.
Until then, the abundance of character will have to suffice. Inside, you can snuggle up in one of the many banquettes and private lounges. A secluded room in the back has an assortment of video games you can play. Or perchance ponder your deepest, darkest secrets over a display of lava lamps and driftwood.
No matter your fancy, this place is great. Perfect for a summertime hangout with a group of friends you don't have to impress. Friends you just want to kick back with and listen to a little Madonna and sip a little candy cotton vodka.
This, my friends, is summer. Live it up.
443 Forest Ave.
Scene: Colored lights, fun drinks, beachy vibe.
Dress: Shorts and Hawaiian shirts are practically a requirement.
Drinks: Cocktail menu, draft and bottled beers.