13 Best Bars in Rochester

group of friends having a great time at a bar in Rochester

Rochester’s nightlife is alive and thriving, with a diverse array of bars that cater to every taste and mood. Whether you’re in the mood for a cozy speakeasy, a lively sports pub, or a charming neighborhood haunt, this city has a watering hole to suit your fancy. These bars are more than just places to grab a drink; they are hubs of social interaction and culinary delight. From expertly crafted cocktails to a wide selection of craft beers, each establishment offers a unique atmosphere and menu that reflects the spirit of the city. Join us as we raise our glasses and embark on a journey to discover the best bars in Rochester, where good times, great drinks, and unforgettable memories await.

Abilene Bar and Lounge

153 Liberty Pole Way, Rochester, NY 14604
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Abilene Bar and Lounge Rochester
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The story of Abilene Bar and Lounge began in 2008 after Danny Deutsch (the owner) started a honky-tonk and corner saloon in an old building in downtown Rochester. This Abilene’s intimate space hosts local, regional, and international musicians to entertain their customers as they enjoy a drink. In addition, Abilene also hosts numerous special events on specific dates (check out their calendar to see what’s planned for this coming holiday.) Their beer menu comprises wheat beers, lagers, pilsners, Indian pale ales, and many more. If you’re a fan of roots and live music performances, I recommend visiting Abilene Bar and Lounge on your trip to Rochester.

The Spirit Room

139 State St, Rochester, NY 14614
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The Spirit Room Rochester
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Located in the beautiful downtown Rochester, the Spirit Room is one of the best places to hang out in New York. It offers excellent signature drinks and a funky atmosphere to relax and unwind. The bathroom and front entrance are wheelchair accessible, so if you have any form of disability, you’ll still have a great time at The Spirit Room. The bar gives coach seating priority to customers with physical disabilities to extend their comfort levels. The Spirit Room offers open communication and supports local artists.

The Daily Refresher

293 Alexander St, Rochester, NY 14607
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The Daily Refresher Rochester
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The downstairs at “The Daily Refresher” is good, but the upstairs is way better. The place offers a cozy atmosphere with live music, a beautiful bar, and comfy coaches. The bartenders are very friendly to customers. Hence, you’ll be treated with the respect you deserve. Although the menu is limited, the drinks are really nice. Daily offers an excellent spirit selection of more than 300 whiskeys. The bar has an eye for tradition, and all their ingredients and creative cocktails tell the story. Their beer offerings feature fine microbrews selected for taste and quality. Don’t forget to grab a bite at their craft kitchen or the seasonal Food Truck located on-site.

See also  9 Best Outdoor Dining in Rochester

Johnny’s Irish Pub

1382 Culver Rd, Rochester, NY 14609
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Johnny’s Irish Pub Rochester
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Enjoy the traditional Irish music sessions every last Sunday of the month at Johnny’s Irish Pub. Located in Rochester, NY, this pub has been dominant in the local music scene since 1997. Johnny’s Irish Pub offers free music in a unique and friendly atmosphere, enabling you to chill and unwind. If you have a car, there’s plenty of free parking available. The bartenders are great and dedicated to their work to ensure you have a great time. This Pub is perfect for get-togethers or private parties. 


621 Culver Rd, Rochester, NY 14609
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ROAR Rochester
Source: Instagram

Following the closure of the biggest LGBTQ+ oriented /18+ bar in Rochester, Roar was born to fill in the void. The club focuses on creating a safe and comfortable environment for the LGBTQ+ and everyone in the community. ROAR features local talent from Western NY and Rochester who offer great entertainment to guests. Their menu comprises appetizers, soup/salad, and sandwiches, among others. You can visit their site and sign up on the email lists to receive online event alerts and any other special event at the bar. You can also book VIP treatment for bottle services, booths, and private parties.

Bar Bantam

Metropolitan, S Clinton Ave, Rochester, NY 1460
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Bar Bantam Rochester
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Located in the metropolitan downtown Rochester, Bar Bantam is an all-day eatery offering lots of mouth-watering dishes. Cocktail, cafe, and dinner menus are all available in great selections. I liked the weekly special events at Bar Bantam, including free corkage on Thursdays and $4 draft beer on Fridays. The bar is located at One South Clinton Avenue, Rochester. The floor-to-ceiling windows give it a stunning look and allow you to enjoy outside views of the city. In addition, Bar Bantam offers outdoor seating, allowing you to breathe the cool air while relaxing on their comfy seats. The bar leans towards rustic and casual, but they still use fine dining techniques.

Tapas 117

177 St Paul St, Rochester, NY 14604
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Tapas 117 Rochester
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Tapas 117 has witnessed multiple events since its launch, including marriage proposals, baby showers, bachelorette parties, and anniversary nights. The place offers a unique urban experience, and you should try it out. It features a diverse selection of scratch-made dishes and a blend of exotic and familiar flavors made for sharing. Here, there’s something for everyone, from appetizers to vegetarian and gluten-friendly menus. Their award-winning bartenders will serve you your favorite glass of wine and exotic cocktails, among other drinks on their menu. If you plan to host a family or business meeting, call to book a reservation, although it’s limited to eight people. Apart from serving you, Tapas 117 also supports local talents in Rochester by giving them a performance platform. Unfortunately, all events are currently canceled due to the pandemic.

See also  7 Best Happy Hours in Rochester

Caverly’s Irish Pub 

741 South Ave, Rochester, NY 14620
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Caverly’s Irish Pub Rochester
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This quaint corner club is surrounded by traditional Irish culture and historical memorabilia. Caverly’s Irish Club has been in operation since 2005, and it’s an excellent spot to chill and unwind in the NY’s South Wedge Community. Their competent and passionate staff will make you feel at home. Caverly’s Irish Pub gives out some great merchandise, including T-shirts to help preserve your memories at the pub. In honor of a great bartender, Bill Lawler, Caverly’s Irish Pub hosts golf tournaments annually, and all proceeds are donated to the fight against Huntington’s disease. So when you visit this great place, you’re supporting the local community in Rochester. The Pub is also available for event bookings and other special gatherings you might have.

Skylark Lounge

40 S Union St, Rochester, NY 14607
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Skylark Lounge Rochester
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The Skylark Lounge in Rochester is a great place to enjoy beer, drinks, and food in large varieties. This place offers a full bar with all your favorite beverages. Their menu is unique but straightforward, including five sauces, five meatballs, and five sides. While here, you can enjoy spicy chicken, barbecue pork, traditional ground beef, among other meals. Skylark Lounge has a place for bands where you can occasionally enjoy some local live music. The place is wheelchair-accessible, and take-outs are also available. The seating is comfortable, and you can spend the night sipping through your cold drink while enjoying the slow music jams.

Yager’s Pub

510 Monroe Ave, Rochester, NY 14607

Yager’s Pub Rochester
Source: Instagram

Yager’s Pub was started in 2015 and is located in Monroe Village. The bar was established to fill in the void left by the Rehab Lounge. It was just a change of direction in business because Yager’s Pub is owned by the same people who owned Rehab Lounge. The Pub is open throughout the week, from Monday to Sunday. It also allows you to use your credit card to settle the bills. If you got some excellent dancing moves, there’s a dancefloor for you to enjoy the loud music. This is a great place to create memories with your friends. Other amenities available include bike parking, WiFi, pool table TV, and many more.

Lux Lounge

666 South Ave, Rochester, NY 14620
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Lux Lounge Rochester
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Lux Lounge is located in the South Wedge neighborhood of Rochester and is an excellent spot for fun. The bar sits just a few miles from huge attraction sites, including The Strong National Museum of Play, the Geva Theater Center, and Highland Park. While here, you can enjoy a delicious cocktail while staring at some cool art available at the bar. One thing I liked most about Lux was the massive backyard with a fire pit. If you’re wondering where to get a drink and enjoy the chilly nightlife in Rochester, this is the ideal place. There’s no TV, but the swanky pool table and the silly board games will keep you engaged all night.

See also  8 Best Pizza Restaurants in Rochester


107 East Ave, Rochester, NY 14604
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Salinger’s Rochester
Source: Instagram

Salinger’s offers a relaxed environment allowing you to enjoy a drink after a long day at work. The bar is located on East Avenue and offers 50+ beer types for you to enjoy. The list of cocktails and spirits available at Salinger’s is endless. This place has been open to everyone for over 20 years and has proven to be among the best bars in Rochester. Salinger’s also hosts private parties, including company happy hours, birthday parties, and many more. You can contact them to book a reservation. Due to its central and strategic location, Salinger’s is the best spot for all the celebrations and festivals in Rochester, including the Fringe Festival and the International Jazz Festival.

Side Bar

242 South Ave, Rochester, NY 14604
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Side Bar Rochester
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If you’re a fan of cocktails, I’ll advise you to visit Side Bar and see their endless list of delicious signature cocktails. Their menus comprise classic, Asian, Zinger, Passionate and exotic mimosas. But before you go to the drinks, check out their excellent food menu consisting of dishes like Jerk chicken, beef short ribs, and fish fry (whiting), among others. The place is wheelchair accessible and good for groups. Side Bar offers delivery and take-out and allows you to pay using your credit card. The outdoor seating gives you stunning views of the city.

Why Trust Us?

When it comes to local restaurant recommendations, we pride ourselves on being a reliable and trustworthy resource. Our suggestions are not just based on our personal experiences, ensuring a more authentic and well-rounded perspective, but also on extensive online research. We diligently searched the internet and reviewed 5 credible sites and blogs, including and 

We compiled all the findings in one location and sorted them by the frequency of mentions to ensure you receive top-notch recommendations. We strive to present you with a curated list of establishments that truly stand out, allowing you to enjoy the best dining experiences possible. 

Interested in the sources we consulted? Check out the list of all 5 sites we referenced below this paragraph, offering transparency and an opportunity for our readers to explore further. Our commitment is to deliver trustworthy and unparalleled recommendations, helping you make informed decisions on your culinary journeys.

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian attended West Virginia University, then started his career in the IT industry before following his passion for marketing and hospitality. He has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and bar industry.

As a former restaurant owner, he knows about running a food business and loves to eat and enjoy cocktails on a regular basis. He constantly travels to new cities tasting and reviewing the most popular spots.

Follow him on LinkedIn, Instagram, Quora, Google Guide and Facebook.