Van Buren Room, Dayton
Belle of Dayton’s cozy bar serves a variety of signature and classic cocktails crafted from the distillery’s lineup of spirits.
When you walk into Belle of Dayton’s cocktail bar, the Van Buren Room, you’re greeted by a portrait of Sarah Angelica Singleton Van Buren, daughter-in-law to President Martin Van Buren. Because of his widower status, she took on the mantle of First Lady during his time in office and served as the White House’s official host. Now she welcomes guests to the bar, located on Van Buren Street in Dayton’s historic Oregon District.
The Van Buren Room occupies a cozy single room, with windows looking into the distillery. Friendly and knowledgeable bartenders walk you through the menu spanning eight signature cocktails and more than a dozen classics. Customers can snag a seat at the bar, a cab table or one of the high-backed booths. In warmer months, a covered patio more than doubles the amount of seating.
Brothers Mike, Murphy and Tim LaSelle first conceived the distillery in 2009, creating their first spirit in 2014 and opening the bar in October 2018.
“Everything about it has got that old steakhouse experience, but you’re doing it with cocktails,” says Mike. “In Dayton three years ago, there weren’t a lot of good places to get a high-end, elevated cocktail with quality spirits.”
Belle of Dayton draws its name from a pre-Prohibition distillery about which very little is known. The only hints are old bottles excavated nearby; they now grace the top of the bar. Likewise, the rye whiskey is packaged under the Detrick name, another throwback to a long-gone distillery in Tipp City. Belle of Dayton has produced five spirits: a gin, two vodkas (one regular and one spiked with peppers), a rye whiskey and a spiced rum. All five are featured on the menu, in addition to a robust collection of spirits, plus wine and local beer.
The Witching Hour is a creamy concoction marrying Belle of Dayton’s vodka with Averna, cacao liquor, cold-brew coffee, mole bitters and whipped egg white. Served in a stemmed glass, it drinks like an upscale white Russian, overlaid with dark chocolate and coffee flavors. By contrast, The Elder is a refreshing and herbal drink built on Belle of Dayton gin, plus a house-made amaro, green chartreuse, honey, lemon and sage.
Mike says the goal of the bar is to highlight Belle of Dayton’s products in the place where they’re made. “We wanted to show what a Manhattan or old fashioned or martini would taste like with our spirits.”
122 Van Buren St., Dayton 45402, 937/250-1837, belleofdayton.com