Best Bars in Louisville

Best Bars in Louisville

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Louisville might be the home of the Kentucky Derby and bourbon tourism, but the night life shouldn’t be ignored. Hey, a lot of the bars in this city are open until 4 a.m. What does that tell you?

The diversity in the many bars, from clubs to neighborhood taverns and tasting rooms (not to mention the many restaurants), helps define the social scene in many ways.

So, if you’re looking to find something new and interesting, or just to be reminded of an old hangout you’ve neglected recently, this list of Louisville’s Best Bars is for you.

eight up

8UP

350 W. Chestnut St.

Situated atop the Hilton Garden Inn Louisville Downtown, 8UP is at once sleek, modern and ridiculously fun. It pairs with an upscale restaurant, but the appetizers served in the bar area are top of the line as well. And while the rectangular bar and stylish accoutrement are sleek enough to satisfy, just wait til you lay eyes on the roof garden, complete with dining space, another bar, fire pit and some of the best views in the city. Settle in with a cocktail and enjoy.

shop bar

Shop Bar

950 Barret Ave.

Set in a former filling station, Shop Bar is one of the more interest places to stop in for a drink. It’s part bar, part miniature gallery that sells items ranging from locally-crafted art to vintage clothing. In what used to be the station’s garage area, you’ll find a rustic bar offering original cocktails, and where gas pumps once resided is now a lush patio garden space. Grab an Alexander Old Fashioned and bring your friends.

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Cox’s/Evergreen Neighborhood Tasting Bars

12017 Shelbyville Road
720 E Market St.
4232 Shelbyville Road

Talk about an interesting concept – the tasting bars inside four different locations of Cox’s Spirit Shoppe and Evergreen Liquors allows Louisvillians and tourists alike a chance to sample spirits at the bar before buying a bottle. From hard-to-find bourbons (because, of course), visitors can taste from a rotating menu of a wide variety of spirits, such as rum and tequila. The goal is to broaden customers’ palates, to educate and, naturally, to have fun in the process. Hey, we warned you that Louisville and bourbon go together like old friends. Cox’s and Evergreen reflect that friendship.

meta

Meta

425 W. Chestnut St.

Meta serves upscale cocktails in a quirky, fun environment. Located downtown, the bar’s exterior resembles a German villa, while inside you’ll find faux vintage wallpaper, a marble bar top, cool nooks, a courtyard and – wait, did we mention the cocktails? Grab a classic drink or sip on one of Meta’s signatures, like a frozen My Only Vice or a tequila-laden Sayonara Muchachos. You can even grab bar bites if you’re feeling puckish after a night on the town.

never say die

Never Say Die Bar

3900 Shelbyville Road

It ain’t easy to even describe Never Say Die Bar. Is it a boozy gallery? A graffiti bar? Let’s just say it’s colorful. Like, really colorful. As in, even the tables and chairs are art. Sometimes it’s a dance club, sometimes it’s a venue for stand-up comedy, sometimes it’s all about the art. Whatever it’s busy being at the moment, Never Say Die Bar is unique. Grab a seat, order yourself a Violet Beauregard (it’s purple!) and enjoy the views (or the comedians).

The Manhattan Propject

The Manhattan Project

2101 Frankfort Ave.

The Manhattan Project bills itself as “Clifton’s neighborhood bar,” but to be fair, it’s one of several great choices in that Louisville neighborhood, like the ever-friendly Hilltop Tavern, the honky tonk vibe of The Silver Dollar, the mainstay Irish Rover and the laid-back pub Avenue. Manhattan Project combines a mid-upscale feel with the laid-back environment of a sports bar. The front bar area is a cozy place to chill with friends for happy hour, while the main bar in back is where the fun happens during University of Louisville games and NFL Sundays. Grab brunch before the game or enjoy half-price happy hours.

the back door

The Back Door

1250 Bardstown Road, Suite 7

There may be no bar in Louisville that is more Louisville than The Back Door. Set in the rear corner of a longtime neighborhood shopping center (thus the name), it might not be facing the busy Highlands neighborhood in which it resides, but everyone knows where it is. Eclectic? The entrance is essentially on a loading dock. Inside, you’ll find booths that have seemingly been there forever, and walls covered with murals bearing the faces of dozens upon dozens of long-time regulars, past and present. Pool tables, video games and strong drinks are the vibe, and all are welcome. And where else can you get a top-shelf margarita and an egg sandwich?

garage bar

Garage Bar

700 E. Market

Another concept set in a former filling station, Garage Bar has one of the coolest patios in the city. Ping pong tables sit atop smashed cars (must see to appreciate), fake-turf-covered seats, and an art installation out front that features two cars smashing into each other. Wood-fired pizzas top the food menu, but a lot of folks just come to hang outside and have a drink or two. It’s dog-friendly and located in a busy NuLu neighborhood where you can walk to as many drink destinations as you can shake a stick at.

Mellwood Tavern

Mellwood Tavern

1801 Brownsboro Road

Some might call it a “dive” bar, but Mellwood wins with its music, tailored to lovers of jam music. Every Sunday afternoon, Mellwood features the Sunday Early Service concert featuring touring and local bands of the genre. You can also catch bands most Friday and Saturday nights from a wide variety of genres. Catch the daily bourbon happy hour for great deals on good whiskey and make sure you get there early every Tuesday and Thursday for some of the best fried chicken dinners in town. And Mellwood Tavern claims to be the oldest continuously operating tavern in Louisville, so it’s clearly doing something right.

matson & Gilmon

Trouble Bar

1149 S Shelby St.

Trouble Bar is one of the slickest out-of-the-way watering holes in the city and is well worth a stop. Exposed brick walls, a lounge area and a kickin’ whiskey selection combine for a cozy, fun atmosphere. How cool is it? It was recently named to Esquire Magazine’s 2021 Best Bars in America list. On top of that, Trouble Bar’s owners offer specially-designed tours around the city, from coffee shops to historic stops and, of course, bourbon. Heck, it even doubles as an event space. When in Shelby Park, look for the mural that reads, “Whiskey Got Me into Trouble.” That means you’ve found Trouble Bar.

pearl

The Pearl of Germantown

1151 Goss Ave.

If it looks like a dive bar and walks like a dive bar, well … it’s a dive bar. That’s the Pearl, a laid-back spot where you’ll find friendly regulars, graffiti on the walls, mix-and-match furniture, cheap drinks and an old-school jukebox that’s free to play. Set in an historic building in an historic neighborhood, it was tailored to the Germantown OGs and hipsters alike, from vintage beer signs to funky art. You can even bring your canine friend along.

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