…What? Say it ain’t so! My very last bottle of Papa Al’s Hot Sauce!

There’s a little bit of a back story to this tragic news.

Back in the early-1980s, we were living in our first house, which was located in the Greater Rochester suburb of Henrietta, New York. The town was notoriously known for its strip malls (and strip clubs) and very haphazard and underregulated zoning. On the corner of Calkins Road and West Henrietta Road was Al’s Meadows Motel, one of those flea-bitten establishments from a previous era that begged every passerby to wonder who would actually choose to spend a night there of their own accord? On the same property was the Al’s Meadows Lounge and Grill, an old-school bar and burger joint. The best thing you could say about the establishment was that it was “unpretentious.” Oh, yeah, and there was the chicken wing sauce!

A friend from work who lived close by and I were taking some night classes together back then, and several times on the way home we stopped at Al’s for chicken wings. The wings themself were nothing to write home about. They were actually on the small side and regularly overcooked, but the sauce was absolutely delicious with a noticeable tang of celery salt and unlike any wing sauce I had ever tasted (my mouth is watering as I type). The lounge/restaurant also sold the sauce in bottles and I became a regular customer. It was especially good on any kind of chicken and on Zweigles white hot dogs (see here). Our two boys grew up on the sauce and the youngest one, especially, took a shine to it.

The years went by and we eventually moved out of Henrietta. Maybe about twelve years ago, Al’s Meadows Motel and the adjoining lounge/restaurant were torn down and to make way for a gas station. However, Al’s sons owned the Southtown Beverages Drive-Thru business, which was a bit farther north on West Henrietta Road, and they carried on the Meadows Lounge and Grill legacy by bottling and selling Papa Al’s Hot Sauce. Year after year, I made the trek back to Henrietta to buy a couple of bottles of the hot sauce.

This past October, our youngest son came up from Texas for our family trip to the Big Apple and of course he took a solo drive to Southtown Beverages to buy a couple of bottles of Papa Al’s Hot Sauce to take back home with him. But when he returned to our house, he broke the bad news: Southtown had stopped making the sauce because of low demand. Argh! If I had known, I would have stocked up.

So here I am in the photo above with my very last bottle of Papa Al’s Hot Sauce. Ach! When it’s gone, I’m going to rinse out the bottle and display it on the mantle down in my man cave as another reminder that this world has its temporal pleasures, but it’s all passing away.

 

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The former Al’s Meadows Motel and Meadows Lounge and Grill were located at 4200 West Henrietta Road, Rochester, NY. The proprietor was Alphonse “Papa Al” Alaimo.

UPDATE: In the post below from December 2020, I recount how I successfully recreated a close facsimile of Papa Al’s Hot Sauce along with the recipe:

https://excatholic4christ.wordpress.com/2020/12/09/papa-als-hot-sauce-its-back/

28 thoughts on “…What? Say it ain’t so! My very last bottle of Papa Al’s Hot Sauce!

    1. Thanks for the empathy, Beth! Oh, I’m going to miss it. Sooooo good and one of our family’s traditions for almost forty years. Rochesterians had no idea what they were missing and now it’s gone..

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We’ve now Joe and his wife for years. Our whole family was huge Pa Pa Al’s fans from the very first bottle Joe gave to us. He didn’t give us the recipe either. If you kept the last bottle, I’d like to know what ingredients are listed on the label.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Eugene, I did keep the last bottle, The listed ingredients are ketchup, cayenne pepper sauce, water, Worcestershire sauce, wine vinegar, salt, black pepper, celery powder, and xantham gum.

        Like

    1. Thanks. Chicken wings are big around here because of our proximity to Buffalo. I’ve had many sauces but Papa Al’s was the best! My father started me on hot and spicy condiments when I was very young. He always had horseradish on his kielbasa and I copied him.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Has anyone tried reproducing the sauce, based on those ingredients? Would you share your recipe? We were also just reminiscing about Smittey’s Birdland. I reproduced the Smittey Sauce recipe and keep a few jars in the frig at all times.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Someone needs to resurrect Papa Als sauce. Rochester native, but have lived in L.A. for 14 years and I still crave it. It was a condiment staple in my life for a long time.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Thanks, Tomas. Using the ingredients from my last bottle of Papa Al’s Sauce, I guessed on the proportions and came up with a very close facsimile. I’ll be sharing the recipe in a post in a few weeks.

        Liked by 2 people

      1. Here’s the ingredients and directions.

        Papa Al’s Hot Sauce Recipe

        Ingredients

        * 1/4 cup low-sugar or non-sugar ketchup
        * 1/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot sauce
        * 1/4 cup water
        * 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
        * 1 tsp. vinegar
        * 1/2 tsp. celery salt
        * 1/4 tsp black pepper

        Combine all ingredients in small saucepan. Use a whisk to dissolve ketchup. Heat on warm-low for one hour, stirring occasionally. Do not boil. Put in sealed plastic container and cool overnight.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks so much Tom! Excited to try this out! I’m assuming you’re using the Franks red hot sauce in place of the cayenne pepper sauce? Yummmm… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes,use Frank’s for “cayenne pepper sauce.” I’m sure that’s what Papa Al used. The recipe comes real close to the original in flavor. Looking forward to hearing about your results!

      Like

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