‘Accessible to deaf communities’: Rochester Cocktail Revival holds industry seminars

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Rochester is home to a lot of great bars. It’s also home to New York State’s only annual week-long spirits festival, according to the organizers. 

Monday afternoon, the Rochester Cocktail Revival kicked off its tenth year. According to Associate Producer Leah Stacey, the festival is a big economic driver for the city.

“It gets people excited to be in Rochester, to be from Rochester, to work here,” she said. “And it’s fun to get dressed up to go out, especially on a Tuesday.”

While most of the drinking happens later in the evening, the revival also includes educational seminars at The Jackrabbit Club — an event and catering space next door to Good Luck.

One of the co-owners of both spaces is Chuck Cerankosky. He helped found and now directs the Rochester Cocktail Revival, started in 2014. For him, the educational aspect really fleshes out what it means to make a great restaurant.

“There’s a wealth of knowledge about what goes into those drinks — underneath it all,” he said. “And we wanted to make this an opportunity here we would provide that education.”

There, speakers of all kinds will be taking the makeshift stage, giving a variety of talks to people both in and out of the hospitality industry. Monday’s attendees got a crash course in catering to deaf customers.

“Businesses, restaurants, and bars are not accessible to deaf communities,” deaf speaker Joshua Mora signed. “Our experience is not the same as our hearing peers.”

Mora works with TruBiz, a company that helps businesses and organizations become more accessible to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. Trubiz itself is a Deaf term that doesn’t quite have a direct translation, Mora signed during his presentation. 

During the seminar, employees from local restaurants like Swan Dive and Redd got to try their hand at signing some restaurant-related phrases, and learned how to best bridge the gap if they don’t know American Sign Language (ASL).

“ASL is a several-billion-dollar industry at this point. A lot of businesses, specifically in hospitality really miss out on that opportunity,” Mora signed in an interview.

The second seminar held Monday featured three women working at different levels in the spirits industry. The panel-style talk involved a discussion of trends and changes (and a sampling of spirits distilled by each woman.)

“I travel the world for work, I’ve lived in a lot of cities,” distiller and speaker Devon Trevathan said. “I’m amazed by Rochester’s specific commitment to an incredible hospitality industry, that really lifts people up and highlights so many individuals.”