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Nick's Picks: Rochester Cocktail Revival

Sixteen of Rochester’s coolest bars including Swan Dive, Bitter Honey, Good Luck, and the Revelry are hosting Rochester Cocktail Revival from May 1 through 6. Now in its fifth year, this celebration of spirits showcases all that is great in local cocktail culture with more than fifty free and ticketed events and seminars.

Cocktail Revival’s eclectic schedule of experiences lists tastings, food pairings, discussions, movie screenings, and all-out parties. Some of the most intriguing events by day are listed below.

Tuesday, May 1

6 p.m., Ox and Stone—Let’s Taco’ Bout Cocktails

Ox’s bartenders will craft improvised off-menu cocktails all night. There are $3 tacos for soaking up booze on the menu and a $100 gift card on the line at 8 p.m. for the winner of a taco-eating contest.

6:30 p.m., the Little Theater— La Storia de Singani screening and talk back with Steven Soderbergh.

Known for his work on award-winning films like Traffic, Erin Brockovich, Ocean’s Eleven, and Sex, Lies and Videotape, legendary filmmaker Steven Soderbergh brings his newest project, La Storia de Singani, to the Little Theatre. This short documentary is about the origin of Soderbergh’s spirit brand Singani 63. Soderbergh was introduced to Singani, an obscure clear liquor distilled from a single variety of white grape, while filming Che in Bolivia. The director will give a brief talk back after the screening.

*While it’s not officially a part of the Cocktail Revival schedule, I would be remiss not to mention 585 Magazine’s Happy Hour on May 1. Come celebrate the release of our May/June issue at Bitter Honey from 5:30 to 8:00. Enjoy mezcal-based cocktails and complimentary appetizers with friends of 585!

Wednesday, May 2

6 p.m., Owl House—Owl House Oyster Bar

One of Rochester’s favorite healthy restaurants serves up Island Creek oysters and martinis made with the purest Icelandic vodka.

6 p.m., George Eastman Museum—Drinking in Color

RCR combines spirits and cinema again for this one-of-a-kind evening. A ticket comes with two colorful cocktails and admission to Dreaming in Color: The David Turconi Collection of Early Cinema, an exhibition of nearly a thousand rare film clippings from the early 20th century.

Thursday, May 3

4 p.m., Cheshire—Cocktails 101

Join Cheshire’s bartenders at this speakeasy-style bar for a discussion about the science of cocktails and samples.

6 p.m., ARTISANworks—2018 Rochester Cocktail Revival Gala

The crown jewel of Cocktail Revival week, the RCR Gala is Ocean’s 11 themed and guests are encouraged to dress the part with tuxedos and gowns. The unique space at ARTISANworks will be transformed to feature three cocktail bars, a scotch tasting table, casino games, hors d’oeuvres, and a photo booth. In addition to Woodford Reserve, Jack Daniels, Slane Irish Whiskey, and Old Forester Bourbon, guests can look forward to virtual reality tours of a Jack Daniels distillery, a screening of the 1960 version of Ocean’s 11, and a live DJ.

Friday, May 4

3 p.m., Ox and Stone—A Brief History of Bartender Guides

Sponsored by Fee Brothers, this conversation about the history of bartender guides is led by cocktail author and historian Dave Wondrich.

6 p.m., Roux—Red Light District

Punch bowls, French-inspired street food, tarot card readings, live jazz, and absinthe specials highlight this early evening gathering on Park Avenue.

Saturday, May 5

4 p.m., the Cub Room—The 144th Kentucky Derby Party

Watch the race with southern-inspired hors d’oeuvres, Four Roses Bourbon, live music, a free drink ticket, and $6 cocktails. A $100 Cub Room gift card goes to whoever has the most extravagant hat.

10 p.m., Bitter Honey—Cinco de Mayo

Celebrating Cinco de Mayo at Bitter Honey is a no-brainer. This Mexican-themed restaurant offers up $3 tacos and drink specials until 2 a.m. on the fifth of May.

Sunday, May 6

11 a.m., ORBS—Spring in the 585

On the morning of the last day of RCR, dine at ORBS for refreshing spring cocktails and savory brunch creations.

5 p.m., Radio Social—Bar Room Battle Royale

RCR’s last event pits the best local bartenders against each other in a competition for mixology bragging rights. Tickets include admission to the competition, access to tasting tables, and samples. There are also drink specials, a cash bar, and bar snacks available.

For a full list of events, ticket information, and more, visit

Follow Nick’s Picks on Twitter at @NicksPicks585.

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