Rochester Cocktail Revival
In Rochester, there’s something special about the community that exists between the bars. Chuck Cerankosky, co-owner of Rochester restaurants Good Luck and Cure and the organizer of the Rochester Cocktail Revival, says it’s the friendly “competition” between bars that enlivens Rochester’s cocktail culture. Cerankosky, who developed the Revival as a means to purvey the art and entertainment of the fresh, flourishing cocktail scene that Rochester has become, credits the city-wide camaraderie for the immense support the Revival’s second year is experiencing, both from generous festival sponsors and the Rochester community.
The Rochester Cocktail Revival is excited this year to welcome back award-winning mixologist and author, Dale DeGroff, along with Jason Barrett of Rochester’s Black Button Distilling. The Fee Brothers, nationally renowned and respected ambassadors for the region, will be offering a tour of their museum and production facility. And, of course, whiskey will be discussed, poured and tasted all throughout the festival. Authors Noah Rothbaum and Robert Simonson will be hosting seminars featuring the beloved spirit.
With less than a week to go and many events already sold out, the second annual Rochester Cocktail Revival is almost underway. Christine Dionese recently caught up with Cerankosky to chat about the festival and how it’s all about celebrating the local vibe that is the Rochester cocktail scene.
EFL: For those who might be new to the festival this year, who does the Rochester Cocktail Revival have in mind to entertain?
CC: The revival is for industry professionals and cocktail enthusiasts alike. Some people will attend to drink cocktails and have a good time–either way they’ll be enjoying consumable works of art throughout all of the host bars! The Rochester Cocktail Revival is a chance for consumers to get behind-the-scenes glimpses at what goes into creating a special type of experience here in Rochester as well as for bartenders and professionals to up their cocktail-talent game.
EFL: Chuck, not only were you able to catch the eye of and draw ample support through your generous sponsors, but the greater Rochester community as well. How does the depth of the local cocktail culture compare to that of bigger markets? With the recent news of the Manhattan Cocktail Classic being cancelled due to poor sponsorship, how does year two of the revival reaffirm that Rochester is a serious player in the national cocktail industry?
CC: If you see the national attention on mid- and large-sized cities, you’ll notice Rochester is doing just as well! Not (originally) being a local, I see the city as a blank canvas where many Rochesterians appreciate something different that’s done well and that shows a true sense of origin–people really do care where things come from. When people have a passion and appreciation for a thing, they’ll drink it up.
EFL: So, you’d say Rochester is a great place to enjoy a bespoke cocktail?
CC: There’s some magic to being in a well-run bar that takes its time to purvey not only an art form where mixologists create cocktails on the spot, but to be able to showcase flavors that make patrons feel good. This balance depends on an intense skill level–one that Rochester’s cocktail scene is pulling off on par with the larger markets.
EFL: Let’s talk about the upcoming seminar “Drink Local: The Rebirth of New York State Distilling.” How is the region’s distilling practice influencing the locavore, farm-to-drink movement?
CC: Akin to valuing the excellent produce grown in our backyard that is the Finger Lakes and Rochester regions, drinking local truly impacts our economy. Some of our western New York distillers have been around long enough now to produce ryes and Bourbons with age statements while being resourceful by creating vodkas, gins and cordials to sustain revenue flow while waiting to see what would emerge. Jason Barrett of Rochester’s Black Button Distilling along with other local distillers will be discussing the positive impact distilling is having on local farming and economies going forward in this seminar.
… Ready to revive?
Kick off this year at the Larceny Bourbon Extravaganza and get down to the reggae dub sounds of Thunder Body at The Rochester Public Market May 8th. Be sure to stop by Good Luck on Sunday the 10th for the Bar Room Battle Royale to cheer on your favorite bartenders from the festival’s host bars, The Revelry, Good Luck, Cure, The Owl House, The Daily Refresher, Ox & Stone, Cheshire and The Playhouse for the “Iron Shaker” and “Bar Ninja” competitions. Intrigued by cocktail culture, but you don’t imbibe? You’re invited too! Attend one of the revival’s seminars highlighting cocktail history and distilling or hear theories on how cocktails may have shaped the great literary works of our time.
Tickets to these events and all seminars can be found by visiting the Rochester Cocktail Revival site here.
A portion of this year’s proceeds will be donated to Rochester’s Gilda’s Club.
Christine Dionese, integrative health specialist, medical journalist and food writer, is the co-founder of Garden Eats, an organic modern lifestyle blog and business.
The 2015 Rochester Cocktail Revival poster art created by Rochester’s Justin Iannucci