The 10 Best Bars In Louisville, Kentucky

Photo of Megan Wisniewski
9 February 2017

Nightlife might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you hear Louisville, but these bars are sure to make you reconsider. Home of the Kentucky Derby and the Louisville Slugger, Louisville is also the center of the American whiskey industry, and the bars they’re served in. We explore 10 of best the city has to offer.

Pappy Van Winkle Tasting | © Edsel Little/Flickr


Bar, Beer, Cocktails, $$$
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Famous for making Jell-O shots out of rare, cult favorite Pappy Van Winkle bourbon, which retails for around $249 per bottle, Meta Bar is an effortlessly cool and rowdy little joint for drinking and dancing. Meta occupies the four walls of a former strip club, but has turned the space into an upscale cocktail lounge with quirky happenings like Wu-Tang Wednesdays. Stop in for the famous High Pant (Old Fitzgerald, Fernet, ginger, bitters, orange) at the Carrara marble bar.

Holy Grale

Bar, Gastropub, Pub, Beer, American, $$$
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Scotch quail eggs
Scotch quail eggs | © Sodanie Chea/Flickr
Holy Grale, located in a renovated Unitarian church, is the gastropub brainchild of Louisville Beer Store owners Lori Beck and Tyler Trotter. A geeked out beer bar as well as the home of haute comfort food, Holy Grale is your place to unwind over drinks. In addition to their extensive and adaptive beer menu, delve into their genius pub grub for their famous fried Scotch quail egg covered in farm-fresh bratwurst.

Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse

Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse is the innovation of four guys: Andrew, Jerry, Sam and Adam, and it’s the brewhouse with the most impressive collection possible. Located in the south east corner of Louisville Slugger Field, at the corner of Jackson and Main Street, it’s a former train station with ornate industrial architecture that lends beautifully to the dining room and brewhouse vibe. Against The Grain houses one of the nation’s only operational, Victorian-styled and three story showpiece brewhouses, as well as eclectic local art and the best beers around.
Address & telephone number: 401 E Main St., Louisville, KY, USA. +1 502 515 0174

Haymarket Whiskey Bar

Bar, Wine, Beer, Vegetarian, American, $$$
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A former coffee shop, Haymarket Whiskey Bar is a haven for bar lovers and a throwback to the whimsical days of easy youth with old video games and vintage movie posters all around. Matthew Landan, the proprietor, regularly hosts whiskey and bourbon education workshops, so it’s no surprise that there are over 100 unique varieties on the menu. Haymarket is the Bourbon dive bar of your dreams, with live rock bands and 15 types of moonshine – if you’re feeling adventurous.

Proof on Main

Restaurant, Bar, Charcuterie, American, $$$
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Proof On Main, Louisville
Proof On Main, Louisville | Courtesy of Seviche: A Latin Restaurant

A boutique hotel, art museum, phenomenal restaurant and bar all in one, Proof on Main is known for its post-Derby parties. Whether you’re there for cocktails or a casual bite, Proof is perhaps the best place in Louisville to people watch, with a dedication to diversity and originality. Their signature cocktails are original recipes inspired by the season and their wine list is award-winning. Proof is accessible, eclectic and above all, ready to shake it up.

St. Charles Exchange

Bar, American, Cocktails, $$$
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Wood-fire pizza
Wood-fire pizza | © Kurman Communications/Flickr
St. Charles Exchange is known for its imposing, antique-style bar that will transport you to the Jazz Age. Located on the main floor section in one of the oldest buildings on West Main Street, St. Charles features modern takes on American and European standards, a 50 item bourbon menu, well crafted beer and wine lists and more than enough cocktails. Come for the Old Fashioned that will change the way you think about combining sweet and bitter, and stay for the food.

Garage Bar

Bar, Market, Gastropub, Pub Grub, Wine, Beer, Cocktails, $$$
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Located in downtown Louisville’s NuLu or East Market District, Garage Bar has been dubbed the best pizza place in Louisville by Food & Wine magazine. Garage Bar is housed in a former auto-service garage but now serves up an eclectic list of craft brews, seasonal cocktails and famous Kentucky bourbons. Garage Bar is the place to sit back with pizza and a brew, and occasionally try your hand at one of their glowing ping-pong tables.

The Silver Dollar

Bar, Restaurant, American, Mediterranean, $$$
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Kentucky Buorbon Barrels
Kentucky Buorbon Barrels | ©Kelly/Flickr
The Silver Dollar embodies the Bakersfield Sound in the Clifton area of Louisville. Despite their endless bourbon list, the craft cocktails have garnered the spotlight in this immense bar. Set in the former Frankfort Avenue fire station, The Silver Dollar is perhaps the best cocktail bar in Louisville, boasting delicious American South-style food with Latin and Mexican influences. It is, concisely, a bar with great grub.

El Camino

Bar, Restaurant, Mexican, Cocktails, $$$
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The Wall at El Camino
The Wall at El Camino | ©
Part new California surf culture, part tiki bar, part Day of the Dead celebration, El Camino defies a precise genre definition, and it’s unlike any other bar in town. The former Avalon has recast interior with tiers of seating that rise up around a colorful bar. Known for the artisanal tiki drinks, El Camino also offers a separate menu of punch-bowl-style drinks and beers that lean towards SoCal.


Bar, American, Beer, Pub Grub
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Zanzabar boasts Louisville’s only vintage arcade and notoriously crazy weekend nights. Switching the vibe during the week, Zanzabar hosts a weekly pinball tournament and turns into a Southern neighborhood bar. Zanzabar’s doors opened in 1938, and they’ve been serving it up ever since. Check out the heated patio on what will be either an easy, uncomplicated evening or a wild weekend night out.