My drinking tastes, much like this blog, definitely vary wildly from hoodrat to high-class. I love fancy cocktails and expensive bourbon, but I also am a sucker for a truly exceptional dive bar. Give me a neighborhood bar any day! But, when I travel, I like to see it all. So, when I visited Louisville, Kentucky, I definitely went to a plethora of different watering holes—from an underground speakeasy to a drag bar—I saw as much as I could.
Here are my favorites.
Their slogan is “whiskey by the drink,” and it shows. While this is technically a restaurant with a really exceptional bar, I didn’t eat here, so I can’t attest for the food. But, that bourbon list, tho. Whoa. It’s no joke, like, a dozen pages long—if not longer. And they have some of the most rare shit here I’ve ever seen. Plus, they have wicked good cocktails and some truly, truly kind bartenders. Seriously, don’t skip this place.
I’m not certain if I loved Taj so much because it was directly across the street from our AirBnB, because it had a cute AF bar puppy, or because it was truly that majestic. But, whatever, this is my list, and I loved going there so much that I went twice. Also: Vanilla Bourbon Milkshake. That’s right, this dive bar has two frozen cocktail machines churning, even in the winter time. Plus, they have a ton of local beers, a shit load of bourbon, and it feels like a quaint NOLA bar I frequent all the time. So, basically I’m in love.
To be honest, the name alone sold me on this. The fact that it’s also a speakeasy that’s underground was also a plus. Modern speakeasies where you have to know the secret password can be, quite frankly, super douchey, or, at the very least, super expensive. Hell or High Water was neither. Sure, I had to answer some questions to get through the secret bookcase and head downstairs, but once I did, I was transported to a time gone by. And, since you’re in Louisville, you know it’s possible that this was here during the Prohibition. We sat down at a lush red velvet couch and ordered from our waiter, who instructed us to wander around. Curious, we peeked our heads around a corner and saw, literally, the most magical of rooms ever. It was a two-story library straight out of Beauty and the Beast, complete with hidden rooms only accessed by a dresser. Oh, and the cocktails were crazy delicious (and, surprisingly, affordable!). Make reservations!
Located in the 21C Museum Hotel, which is supposed to be, like, THE coolest hotel in all of Louisville, Proof on Main also had the possibility to veer into douche-land, but the decor was hip and swanky—if maybe also totally weird, too—the cocktails were great, and the snacks delicious. The only downfall was it was insanely packed when we went.
My philosophy is that you HAVE to try a local beer when you travel. Seriously, just do it. So, Falls City beer, much like many of the bourbons in Kentucky, has a long history. It was originally brewed in 1905, but the current iteration is a re-imaging of the legendary beer dating to 2010. The taproom is roomy and comfortable, and the people are just as nice as can be. Oh, and the beer is good too!