Rochester Cocktail Revival

It was a whirlwind weekend for my wife and I, with the Rochester Cocktail Revival being the focus of my Saturday and Sunday.

The Rochester Cocktail Revival started mid-week, but I wasn’t able to make it to the city until early Saturday morning.

The first event I attended was Robert Simonson’s seminar on the Old Fashioned cocktail. A lot of the hour spent at Good Luck restaurant for the event was Simonson giving an overview of his book about the drink, with all of us mixing our own Old Fadhioned as he spoke.

It was a great way to start my Saturday. Simonson was funny and informative. Dale DeGroff was in attendance. I drank the most delicious Old Fashioned I’ve ever had and I made it myself, for the most part. All the ingredients were laid out for us when we arrived and we just simply had to assemble the drink. I even waited around after the seminar and hassled Simonson for a photo, which he was nice enough to pose for and some fellow RCR-goers took for me.

The full roster of the festival’s events is still online here. Check out what you missed. And a pic from the Old Fashioned seminar is included in the collage below:

After the Old Fashioned session at Good Luck (and my wife’s visit to the Memorial Art Gallery), we headed over to Abode where RCR swag was being sold and the Queen City Shaken & Stirred “pop-up shop” was located.

Abode was by far one of our favorite places of the trip. I bought bitters and browsed the cocktail books by writers who were speaking at the festival. And we bought a vintage piece of artwork they were selling at the shop. Plus it was by far some of the best customer service we got all weekend. The women working at the shop were helpful and pleasant and the shop just generally had a fun and lighthearted sort of energy. 

Afterward we went to the Lilac Festival and then later had drinks at Cheshire — the French 75, Black Walnut Toronto and Cosmopolitan’s Delight.

We spent a short few minutes at Good Luck, but the place was bustling and had a more intense energy level than we were looking for on our Saturday night. I had a shot of Fernet-Branca and a free shot of Mister Katz’s Rock & Rye, which was the brand sponsor of the night.

On Sunday I attended “The Art Atop The Tipple” seminar at Pour Coffee Parlor while my wife was at the George Eastman House. 

All weekend long my family kept asking me: “An hour-and-a-half long seminar on garnishes!?”

Yes, an hour-and-a-half long seminar on garnishes.

During the event I tasted champagne which the bartenders running the seminar had turned into a solid, gelatinous form resembling the size and shape of caviar.

It was an interesting event that was definitely worth attending, and the four speakers talked about traditional garnishes, artsy flourishes, molecular mixology, herbs, plants, growing seasons, simple syrup, shrubs and more. There was even an ISI Whip demonstration.

Afterward, my wife and I ate brunch on Park Ave. and then went to the “Farm To Shaker” tasting event at Black Button Distillery.


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Black Button Distilling — Lilac Gin


Rochester, New York-based Black Button Distilling, which produces Corn Whiskey, Citrus Forward Gin, Vodka and Four Grain Bourbon variants, is also set to release a limited edition Lilac Gin (84 proof) to select liquor stores on May 1, packaged in 375-ml. bottles.

I took this news entirely from Good Spirits News, which cites Shanken News Daily.

I’ll be in Rochester this weekend for the Rochester Cocktail Revival. And I hope there’s time to visit the Black Button Distillery.

From Black Button’s website:

A tribute to the rich botanical heritage of “The Flower City” and home of the annual Rochester Lilac Festival, Black Button’s Lilac Gin is made with hand picked fresh lilac petals and complimentary botanicals.

“As a local company, we are always looking for ways to celebrate Rochester’s unique heritage,” said Jason Barrett, Rochester native and Black Button Distilling owner/head distiller. “The flowers of the Lilac Festival are a major part of our city’s identity. The ability to use local ingredients and showcase them in our own way is exactly what Black Button is all about,” he said.

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