New Riff Distilling hosting 'Riff Top' popup bar tastings

Posted at 6:00 AM, Sep 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-08 13:24:39-04

NEWPORT, Ky. — The coronavirus has forced many local bars and restaurants to reach out to customers in new ways during the pandemic.

For New Riff Distilling in Newport, that means offering people a rare view of the distillery's private rooftop and banquet area.

"We decided on Fridays and Saturdays, we're going to go ahead and pop it up up here," said Steve Johnson, brand ambassador for New Riff.

From 1 to 9 p.m. every Friday and Saturday in September, up to 70 people will be able to sip craft cocktails made with New Riff spirits in the third-floor banquet space usually reserved for private parties.

"People have never really got to come here before just because this always just used to be a lot of event space," Johnson said.

New Riff began hosting the intimate popup parties in July. Face masks are required when patrons are away from seating and social distancing, but the size of New Riff's space guarantees plenty of room between seated patrons, Johnson said.

"The outdoor patio also will be open," he said. "We will have seating out there as well with umbrellas."

Johnson said his favorite part of the new popup bar series is being able to educate customers about the types of spirits New Riff offers.

"I like going and talking about our spirits because we do a lot of single-barrel tasting," he said. "So, I like, that's a really intimate thing with someone and then I can really get into why, how different it is and whatnot."

Some (but not all) Riff Top tastings also feature live music. Johnson said the biggest constants are the classic cocktails he serves.

"That consists of like five different items. We've got the Old Fashioned, the Rye Manhattan, the Boulevardier, the bourbon-barrel-aged gin," he said.

For more information about New Riff's Riff Top popup cocktail parties, visit