“I’m triggered!” jokes Lloyd Cobble, spotting a 1977 bottle of Early Times bourbon. The Liberty Township resident drove half an hour to Covington’s new Revival to be the first customer at the store for vintage spirits. “My grandfather used to drink this out of a glass with a girlie picture on it while smoking filterless Camels.”
That sort of memory-lane moment is what Revival proprietor Brad Bonds is after, himself the descendant of a saloon owner. “There’s a story behind every bottle,” says Bonds, who ran Kentucky’s first vintage spirits program at a large package store before striking out on his own (with partners Shannon Smith, an attorney, and Katie Meyer, a Cincinnati Bell exec). Revival is the first standalone boutique of its kind in the region, enabled by a 2018 Kentucky law permitting the buying and selling of preowned bottles (Ohio forbids such a market). “Smell it with your mouth open,” Bonds instructs Cobble, who sniffs a sample of a 1955 J.W. Dant ($25 per half ounce). “And lift your pinky!”
Revival seeks to buy vintage spirits of all kinds. Contact Bonds if you’ve got dusty bottles in your basement. The sale must take place on the store’s premises.
At the four-seat copper-topped bar, Bonds dispenses bon mots and flights of gin, vodka, rum, and other spirits—but mainly bourbon—from bottles dating back decades. Two ounces worth of sips is the limit per customer. The shop features exposed brick, shiny green tile, and a built-in gas fireplace flanked by brown leather club chairs. Under a retro pressed-tin ceiling, there is an ’80s Bombay gin, a ’70s Wild Turkey, a ’60s Cointreau, and a ’50s Seagram’s 7.
Novelty bottles in the shapes of cars, cartoon characters, and golf clubs are the most eye-catching, but the standard see-through bottles are what Bonds is most enthusiastic about. When originally sold they cost less than the collectibles, but today they are worth more because you can see what’s inside. Revival’s priciest bottle? A 1991 gallon of Old Grand-Dad, at a cool $3,200. For more modest budgets, you can’t go wrong with a Jim Beam from any year, Bonds says. “It’s the most underrated bourbon because so much of it is produced,” he explains to his inaugural patron. “But it is just as good, if not better, than many of the more niche bourbons.” Lloyd Cobble tips his tiny glass—he’ll drink to that.
Revival Vintage Spirits & Bottle Shop, 5 E. Eighth St., Covington, (859) 479-2676