15 Must-try Rochester Bars

Planning for a vacation this coming holiday? In case you haven’t decided yet, we have a perfect destination for you. Located on Lake Ontario, New York, Rochester city is one of the best places to visit. 

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

The city boasts top-rated attractions, including the Eastman museum mansion and the Memorial art gallery. In the early to mid-1800s, Rochester was nicknamed “Flour City or “Flower City,” and the names are still applicable to date.

On my trip to Rochester, I noticed several bars offering the best cocktails, different types of foods, and drinks. I think it’s time you also plan a trip to Rochester and see what the bars in the city have to offer. 

Personally, some of the things I look for in a bar include the services offered, food and drinks selection, decor, and the general atmosphere. These are the things I examined before coming up with this guide. Check out my list of the best bars in Rochester, their location, what they offer, their favorite dishes, and much more. 

Solera Wine Bar

647 South Ave, Rochester, NY 14620
Phone: 585-232-3070
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Solera wine bar is a cool wine/cocktail joint located in the South Wedge neighborhood of Rochester. Literally, the place isn’t big, but their services are top-notch. It’s a place to relax and catch up with friends after a long day of work. The downstairs offers a cozy atmosphere with slow background music to help you relax.

This wine bar leans towards smaller production and family-owned wineries coming from the beaten producers and regions in Rochester. Their wines have a story, personality, and a sense of place. Solera wine bar offers Spanish wine cuisines.

Abilene Bar and Lounge

153 Liberty Pole Way, Rochester, NY 14604
Phone: 585-232-3230
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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
Phone: 585-397-7595
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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 some 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
Phone: 585-360-4627
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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 micro-brews selected for taste and quality. Don’t forget to grab a bite at their craft kitchen or the seasonal Food Truck located on-site.

Johnny’s Irish Pub

1382 Culver Rd, Rochester, NY 14609
Phone: 585-224-0990
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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
Phone: 585-434-1248
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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
Phone: 585-454-1052
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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
Phone: 585-262-2090
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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.

Caverly’s Irish Pub 

741 South Ave, Rochester, NY 14620
Phone: 585-278-1289
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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
Phone: 585-270-8106
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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.

The Blossom Road Pub

198 Winton Rd N, Rochester, NY 14610
Phone: 585-363-5831
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The Blossom Road Pub was started in 2016 by three locals: Marcus, Moe, and Dew. The Pub employs passionate and skilled staff who execute a simple menu consisting of quality ingredients.

The Pub has access to ingredients and supplies from Jacobstein Food Service, a local full-line foodservice distributor. The distributor has been in the industry for more than 135 years, so you can rest assured the ingredients are of the highest quality.

I recommend trying out their vast selection of local and regional wine, beer, and liquor.

Yager’s Pub

510 Monroe Ave, Rochester, NY 14607
Phone: 585-442-9165

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
Phone: 585-232-9030
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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.


107 East Ave, Rochester, NY 14604
Phone: 585-546-6880
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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+ beers 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
Phone: (585) 454-2477
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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, 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.

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and hospitality 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.