Oh, and bourbon; sweet, sweet bourbon whiskey.
Louisville is Kentucky’s largest city and the purported birthplace of the Old Fashioned, so you are spoiled for choice when it comes to bars that specialize in bourbon. There is even something here called the Urban Bourbon Trail, which is an association of bars and restaurants that are steadfastly dedicated to bourbon history, heritage and drinking. Just in time for your next trip, here are some of the best bourbon bars in Louisville.
Proof on Main
A founding member of the Urban Bourbon Trail, Proof on Main is an artsy modern space that takes its bourbon very, very seriously. Walking in feels like entering a gallery, as you are surrounded by multiple works of modern art and a bar top with a bronzed statue of a devil cradling an apple.
Expect the bartenders here to tempt you with a fine selection of single barrel and small batch bourbons (some bottled exclusively for the bar), bourbon flights and exquisite cocktails like Smoke Rings—made with bourbon, dry curacao, amaro, lapsang souchong tea, and absinthe. ProofonMain.com
A ‘southern smokehouse and raw bar’, Doc Crow’s is a down-home stop in Louisville’s ever-popular Whisky Row district. The food menu features delectable smoked meats, fun takes on bar food and fresh seafood served up with a southern twist, while the bourbon list can compete with any in the city.
The bourbons on Doc’s shelf number well over 100, with two of their most creative cocktail offerings being the Man on Fire (bonded bourbon, apricot brandy, lemon juice and habanero shrub) and the Lady Geisha (single barrel bourbon, cinnamon pear syrup, pear liqueur, ginger and lemon juice). DocCrows.com
The Old Seelbach Bar
Another original member of the Urban Bourbon Trail, this genteel bar located inside the grand Seelbach Hilton Hotel offers guests a chance to sip bourbon while slipping back to another era.
The hotel was opened in 1905, and still retains much of the romance of this golden age. Both Al Capone and F. Scott Fitzgerald are said to have been regular guests at the bar here, which today pours pure Kentucky limestone water from old-school seltzer bottles and an impressive range of single barrel bourbons and cocktails. Their signature drink is a mix of bourbon and sparkling wine with a dash of bitters. SeelbachHilton.com
The Silver Dollar
The sign out front says ‘whiskey by the drink’, and boy does The Silver Dollar ever deliver on that promise. The atmosphere of this cool bar in the Clifton neighborhood pays homage to the type of California honkey tonk that Merle Haggard would have hung out in, and the bourbon collection would have impressed him as well.
In addition to an award-winning array of bourbon, the Silver Dollar concocts several terrific house tipples like the Gold Rush (bonded bourbon, honey syrup and lemon) and the Hearts on Fire (bourbon, lime, soda and a punchy blood orange, pineapple and jalapeno shrub). whiskeybythedrink.com