Best Cocktail Bars in Rochester

Looking for the best Rochester bars for craft cocktail fans?

Cocktail fans keen to sip themselves silly in upstate New York can find happiness at a handful of swanky bars that call Rochester home sweet home. Rochester’s craft cocktail scene is spread out across the city, with the majority of bars breathing new life into historical homes, old manufacturing facilities and moody warehouses.

Prohibition vibes are the life of the party, with interiors that feature moustache waxed bartenders, walls covered in whisky, luxurious chandeliers and taxidermied treats.

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Best Cocktail Bars in Rochester

The city’s cocktail culture runs deep, playing home to Fee Brothers, one of the world’s oldest and best-recognized brands of bitters, while at the same time celebrating the youngest American Master Distiller via Jason Barrett, the President and Head Distiller of Black Button Distilling, the first small batch distillery to open in Rochester since Prohibition.

Each May the city enjoys a boom as spirit fans flock for the Rochester Cocktail Revival. Founded in 2014, RCR is a week-long celebration of modern mixology. In recent years the festival has hosted sold out events at 16 different bars and venues throughout the city featuring more than 40 events, from happy hours to tiki parties, food and spirit pairings to educational seminars and bartender mix-offs.

If you’re heading to Rochester and in a celebratory mood here are five cocktail bars worth sipping through.

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Rochester Bars: Enjoy classic cocktails at The Daily Refresher.
Rochester Bars: Enjoy classic cocktails at The Daily Refresher.

The Daily Refresher

293 Alexander St, 1-585-360-4627

Located in a former historical home, The Daily Refresher draws its design inspiration from early American taverns. The popular Rochester bar has two floors, each with its own distinct ambiance: the first floor invokes a blue collar feel while the upstairs is swanky, adorned with custom made walnut bar, exposed lighting, subway tile, and a wall devoted to housing hundreds of different whiskeys.

  • Grace Kelly | gin, lillet blanc, aperol, lemon, sugar
  • Time Traveller | suntory toki japanese whisky, cardamaro, velvet falernum, lime
  • Genever Lawrence | bols genever gin, cocchi americano, lemon, sugar, muddled cucumber, mint, genepy rinse
Good Luck is ranked as one of the best Rochester bars and restaurants.
Good Luck is ranked as one of the best Rochester bars and restaurants.

Good Luck

50 Anderson Ave, 1-585-340-6161

Housed in a former shoe factory-cum-fabric warehouse, Restaurant Good Luck is one of Rochester’s most buzzed about eateries. The owners desire was to dial into the industrial, mercantile heritage of the space and compliment it with warm hospitality and simple decor which includes a custom install antique mirror with hidden inlaid imagery and a dazzling chandelier fabricated from raw steel.

Bar director Chuck Cerankosky is a co-owner of Good Luck and also directs the Rochester Cocktail Revival. Under his bottle slinging leadership the restaurants cocktail program has been named Rochester’s best bar for cocktails numerous times by City Newspaper, and was named by Esquire as one of the Best Bars in America in 2016.

  • Inamartina | myer farm organic vodka, strawberry, st. germain, rosewater
  • Remember the Main Mahattan | rye, cherry, vermouth, absinthe
  • For the Fairest | old forester bourbon, beet & berry shrub, pasubio, ginger
Nox Cocktails is a popular local hang out.
Nox Cocktails is a popular local hang out.

Nox Cocktails

302 Goodman St N, 1-585-471-8803

Bookworms with a penchant for pairing long-reads with stiff drinks find happiness at Nox Cocktails, a unique literary cocktail lounge located on Goodman Street. Owners Kelly and Aaron Metras and Tom Snape, worked hard to make the interior a cozy and comfortable place. Behind the bar you’ll find an old library ladder that staff climb to grab booze bottles, old school couches where you can relax while playing board games with friends, and a petite dining room serving classic comfort foods.

So what’s in a name? Nox has two meanings: it translates to night in latin, and is also a famous spell from Harry Potter. You’ll find the owners’ nerdiness runs deep as you read through the food and beverage menu as each items is lovingly named after literary and pop culture references. The bar bustles seven days a week thanks to special events such as Sunday’s Trivia with Geeks Who Drink, Wednesday’s Game Night, and Thursday’s Readings/Book Launches.

  • The Bell Jar | four roses bourbon, allspice, walnut, cherry, gingerr
  • I Am Groot | tommy rotter gin, blood orange, house cola syrup
  • Cylon7 | old overholt rye, cynar, orange, tonic
Enjoy cocktails during The Cub Room's popular brunch in Rochester.
Enjoy cocktails during The Cub Room’s popular brunch in Rochester.

The Cub Room

739 S Clinton Ave, 1-585-363-5694

The Cub Room is located in the South Wedge area of Rochester in a 90 year old building which was previously used as a manufacturing facility for heating and pipe work. It gets its name from a restaurant in Manhattan that was opened by a bootlegger named Sherman Billingsley in 1929, called The Stork Club. The Stork Club was frequented by celebrities, politicians, and gangsters; they all mixed and mingled in the V.I.P. room within the Stork Club – called The Cub Room.

The owners moved to Rochester with their two kids after spending over 20 years working in fine dining restaurants in New York City. Hop up at the bar and you’ll find high quality cocktails in a speak easy style, inspired by the history of the prohibition era, where the presentation is just as dramatic as the cocktail itself.

  • Breakfast | breakfast gin, earl grey dry vermouth, orange bitters
  • Jill Monroe | tommyrotter vodka, creme de violette, prosecco, lemon, lavender honey simple
  • Frida | pueblo viejo tequila, berto vermouth, egg white, honey, lemon

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The Revelry pairs creative cocktails with Lowcountry cuisine.
The Revelry pairs creative cocktails with Lowcountry cuisine.

The Revelry

1290 University Ave, 1-585-340-6454

Located in an old saw blade manufacturing plant in Rochester’s neighbourhood of the Arts, The Revelry is owner Josh Miles’ homage to his upbringing in the mountains and Lowcountry of South Carolina. History buffs will find a framed saw blade hanging by the bar, as well as a photo of the building in its original splendour. Keen eyes will spot a parade of pineapples throughout the space (on the front door, at the top of the stairs, and in the logo on water glasses) which is a hat tip to the sea-faring captains around Charleston and other port towns in the south.

  • Blue Velvet | aquavit, lime, egg white, blueberry
  • Mr Mule | vodka, house made basil and strawberry shrub, gosling’s ginger beer
  • East Ender | gin, lime, sugar, cucumber, mint

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