Using a glass of whiskey as a lighting gel was a new one for me, but it seemed appropriate for a portrait of Tim Stevens – The owner of such mainstay bars in Buffalo, NY as Lucky Day Whiskey Bar, Ballyhoo, and Graylynn (as well as Dram Box, a mobile bar and cocktail catering service)
After spending some time in San Diego as the head bartender at Prohibition, Tim returned to Buffalo. He soon opened Ballyhoo – the first of his three bars in the city. Ballyhoo quickly garnered praise for its super accessible menu of cocktails, lack of pretension, and delicious sausages and sides. Over the next few years, he followed up with the whiskey-focused Lucky Day, and the gin-focused Graylynn – each with their own unique vibe and flavor. Each of the three spots feels like a fully formed institution in its own right. Besides the fact that one can count on stellar service and libations from each of these businesses, they are wholly unique from one another.
I had heard of Tim long before I got the chance to photograph him or even have a drink at one of his many fine establishments — primarily thanks to Aaron Ingrao, a fellow photographer. He, for years, has been working on a project focused on chronicling the evolving history of the American Craft Cocktail movement called Keepers of the Craft. Tim’s name was one that Aaron brought up often and with great reverence.