For anyone who’s ever thought they don’t like gin or whiskey or other strong spirits, stop by Revival in Lakeland and prepare to have your mind changed! Owner, Jeannie Weaver has worked to make the downtown Lakeland craft cocktail bar an inclusive space where cocktail snobs and newbs alike can find their next favorite cocktail.
Weaver grew up in Fort Meade before moving to Lakeland about nine years ago. She went to college at USF and got a job in marketing immediately after the recession had ravaged the economy.
A friend’s boyfriend suggested Jeannie give bartending a try, thinking she’d be a good fit because she “seemed to get penalized for having a personality.”
She went to work for Linksters Tap Room for seven years. She spoke highly of the establishment, but said, “It just wasn’t the avenue for the things I wanted to do. It’s a sports bar, no one really wants a gin fizz over there.”
“My boyfriend is actually the one who really encouraged me to open the bar,” explained Weaver. This push from boyfriend, Ryan Lopez, gave Jeannie the motivation to sign the paperwork for the LDDA and put a deposit down on a building in the Fall of 2017.
She pulled out a photo album documenting the progress of the renovations they did on the space until July of 2018 when they opened. The building was a blank canvas for Weaver, an empty box of space devoid of color and character. Jeannie got to work putting her personality and a melding of inspiration from some of her favorite craft cocktail bars into the establishment.
A brunette walks into a bar…
Weaver and Lopez have been to six continents together. While traveling, they would designate a day to do what he wanted to do – admire the architecture of churches and historical buildings – and a day to do what she wanted to do – visit craft cocktail bars and bookstores.
Three places stood out in the owner’s mind for the inspiration behind Revival’s unpretentious lounge atmosphere. The first, called Peche, is an absinthe bar in Austin, another, Percy’s and Co. is an apothecary bar in Seattle on Ballard Avenue where Jeannie lived for a time, and the last was a bookstore that doubled as a champagne and cocktail bar, Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar, in downtown Asheville.
Touches from each of these made their way into Revival’s mood. That blank canvas is now decorated with a large wall of little diamond-shaped book shelves and richly colored suede furniture contrasting sharply with the seemingly old woodgrain of the bar. It’s a comfortable place and that’s how Jeannie likes it. “The building is still kind of taking shape,” said Weaver. “We’re going to be doing some changes to the décor to make it more cohesive in the next month.”
A Revival of Classic Cocktails
The name Revival stems from another favorite trio, three of her favorite bands – Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jamestown Revival, and The Revivalists.
Though these bands had an influence over the bar’s moniker, Jeannie said, “Revival, to me, the name came from a revival of classic cocktails.”
It was her goal to put an innovative spin on classic cocktails.
As a way to introduce cocktails in a different way to its patrons, Revival has a Weekly Revival every Monday which Weaver says varies between a classic recipe that they have modified or a creation all her own. Other Revival weekly happenings include Monday Cocktail Flights that “allow our guests to try a range of a chosen spirit to allow them to taste the spectrum of each from sweet to spirit forward and which allows them to change their palate,” Test Drink Tuesday, Tiki Thursdays, and perhaps the coolest of them all – Euro Sundays. On Euro Sundays, guests can expect French Aperitifs, champagne and Prosecco cocktails, an absinthe fountain, olive and cheese boards, and variations of Bloody Mary’s.
Wednesday’s will be reserved for a new idea Jeanie is putting into motion on March 13th – Cocktail Classes. “They will learn the history of the spirit, bartending techniques, and three to four drinks that feature the spirit that allow them to showcase what they’ve learned,” said Weaver.
She hopes these classes will move people from their comfort zones into trying something new – or a new way of drinking a spirit they didn’t think they liked. “We want to be their gateway,” said Jeannie. “We want you to come in here thinking you don’t like something and when you leave, you do like something. That’s what I feel we’ve been really good at.”
Books and Booze
The Revival bookshelves are speckled with a selection of books and Jeannie herself owns some 100 plus cocktail books. The self-described “book nerd” was also glad to have her bar host an LGBTQ book club that meets once a month. This didn’t only please her inner book nerd but was in line with the accessibility and acceptance she was aiming for the bar to have.
That accessibility comes not only in the form of an open door to everyone but also in the price gamut of spirits she offers. You can order well whiskey for under $5 or a shot of Boss Hog for $62. There’s something for everyone to indulge in.
Jeannie is happiest when she’s creating cocktails. “I do like being behind the bar, but I like creating the cocktails because that’s where I get the most source of pride from,” she said.
Cocktail inspiration comes in mysterious ways to Jeannie. The Revival owner said she works better under pressure and that things sometimes come to her in weird spaces like when she’s washing her hair, flipping through food magazines or browsing the aisles of the grocery store. That’s where the idea for Revival’s Cookie Butter Martini came to her. The research for that drink was particularly fun because who doesn’t want to eat jars of cookie butter?
Drink me, I’m Irish
In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, we asked Jeannie to come up with a few lucky cocktails to share. She did not disappoint with the varied flavors she chose and of course green color, which didn’t require any artificial color. Order one up the next time you’re at Revival or make them yourself for St. Patty’s Day!
119 South Kentucky Avenue, Lakeland
“Queen Basic” Avocado Margarita
1 ½ oz. El Jimador Tequila
¾ oz. lime juice
½ oz. Triple Sec
½ oz. Agave Nectar
Cut the flesh of one avocado into small pieces so there is more surface area for the tequila to infuse with. In a jar, add tequila and avocado pieces to infuse. Shake from time to time and then strain avocado pieces out after a few hours. You’re left with an avocado-flavored tequila.
In a cocktail shaker, add tequila with the other ingredients, shake vigorously, strain into a salt-rimmed margarita glass with a lime wheel as a garnish.
‘Matcha want from me
1 1/2 oz Tanqueray Gin
½ oz. matcha simple syrup
½ oz lemon juice
One egg white
Dehydrated lime wheel
In a cocktail shaker, combine all ingredients (minus the garnish) and give it a hard, dry shake for 15 seconds. A dry shake is necessary because shaking the cocktail without ice and at a higher temperature allows more aeration and allows the drink to emulsify to produce a thick, pretty foam for the top of the cocktail. Add Ice and shake again for another 15 seconds to allow the cocktail to cool down and then pour into the cocktail glass of your choice. I choose a Nick and Nora glass because its not only elegant and classic, but it prevents you from spilling it as easily as a modern-day martini glass.
5 basil leaves
2 oz. Tito’s Vodka
1/2 oz lime juice
½ oz simple syrup
In a cocktail shaker, muddle basil in lime juice.
Add ice and other ingredients. Shake.
Double strain out pieces of basil, serve in a chilled coupe glass.
Girl Scout Cookie
Equal parts (3/4 oz.):
3 drops mint bitters
Shake with ice
Serve in a shot glass rimmed with sugar.