Beers For All Occasions

An Experiment in Social Drinking

The Bambi Bar

We’ve all heard the name. We know the walk. We know the burgers. Now, allow us to introduce you to the bar behind the legend. Located at 2701 Bardstown Road, The Bambi Bar has been in operation since at least 1955, and is family-friendly, hosting a little league team after their games. They serve only beer and wine, have an internet jukebox (which was religiously playing country music), and welcome your kiddos at a reasonable hour. The place is frequented by a tight-knit circle of regulars, and there’s never any trouble. The low ceiling, well-loved bar, and panelled walls make the Bambi Bar welcoming and comfortable, and the regulars are happy to strike up a conversation with you about anything and everything.

When we visited The Bambi Bar we met Wayne, a bass player and the best short-order cook in Louisville. Wayne’s been at the Bambi Bar for 17 years, and he was able to give us all the inside information on the history of the joint. What we now know as a bar used to be an old-fashioned fill station. The new owner has made tons of improvements, including turning the fill station’s old ice house into a kick ass smoking room, complete with heaters in the winter, industrial fans in the summer, tons of seating and a sizeable bar. There’s additional outdoor, picnic table seating on the patio.

So why the Bambi Bar? Wayne was able to tell us that too. Its called The Bambi Bar because the first owner of the bar wallpapered his kid’s bedroom in Bambi wallpaper, and used the excess to paper the front wall of the bar. Wayne says the wallpaper is probably still in the bar, under layers and layers of paint and panelling. Whether or not you’re into little deer, you’re gonna love this bar.

We would be ridiculously remiss if we did not give you the history of the bar hop that’s been keeping Louisville weird for the last 40 years. It all started in the early 70’s, with 5 bored fellas. They would spend Saturday afternoons riding the bus from the Outlook Inn down to the Bambi Bar. That’s right, Bambi Bar used to be the end of the walk, but as more people learned about the hop, and more bars popped up along Bardstown Rd., the owners decided to let someone else clean up the puke. Now, the big Bambi Walk happens in August, every year around the Fair, and of course begins at the Bambi Bar itself. People start their own, impromtu walks all the time, especially in celebration of 21st birthdays. Come on…you know you tried to do the entire walk for your 21st birthday! Its a virtual rite of passage for Louisvillians, and is definitely on par with wearing a big hat to the Derby.

You don’t need to do anything special to start your own Bambi Walk – just get a group of friends together, give yourself plenty of time and use City Scoot to stay safe!

So, in honor of this legendary Louisville bar, these beers are for tradition, and Bambi walkers everywhere.

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May 21, 2009 Posted by | Bambi Walk, The Highlands | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Cahoot’s

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Once upon a time, before Headliner’s Music Hall, Louisville had a legendary music venue. Tooligan’s  brought in great bands in its time, but has been known for the past 13 years by another name, almost as legendary in certain circles, Cahoot’s. Located at 1047 Bardstown Rd., Cahoot’s is just a hop, skip and a jump away from the Irish Triange, Pheonix Hill, and all the activity North of Grinstead too. You can visit their MySpace here, but be warned it is not checked often. Now Cahoot’s is a neighborhood bar, frequented by a circle of regulars and the overflow of Bardstown Rd. insanity. Be prepared for a crowd on the weekends, and at least one bar fight, but a pretty quiet atmosphere through the week.

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The beautiful thing about Cahoot’s is that its like the Mag Bar of the Highlands. Its dirty, smells like vomit and shame, and all the same rules apply. The jukebox is good, there are 3 pool tables, Pac Man, Foosball, and one our all-time favorites, a cigarette machine.  The main difference here being, Cahoot’s serves food. And not just bar food, real food. And they serve it until 3 AM to keep your drunk ass from driving anywhere. When we talked to the bar staff, they assured us that the live music of the previous era is making a comeback, so make sure you check their MySpace for upcoming events.

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Cahoot’s has nightly drink specials, which are the same from week to week. You can get a Bud or a PBR for $1.50, and they have drink specials every night. On tap, Cahoot’s has all the standards, plus one BBC beer, and the Jager is kept in the deep freeze (we thought it was special that they even had a deep freeze). Its worth mentioning that Cahoot’s has two bars, one in the front and one in the back, which makes getting a drink during the busy times that much easier. The outdoor seating is limited, but covered and there are lots of group booths inside so that no one gets left out. We called them drinking forts, because the backs of the benchs are so high.

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Although the crew at Cahoot’s mainly kept to themselves, these beers are for them, and for their chest pieces, long may they wave.

May 13, 2009 Posted by | The Highlands | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Back Door

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It’s no secret that the Beerologists like reader requests, and so this article is written with a heavy heart for a dear friend who asked us to do it. Nick was a fellow with an unforgettable laugh who had a way of lighting up when he saw his friends. Every night with him was a blast, and I had the pleasure of spending a good chunk of his last week with him, much of that time at the Back Door.

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The Back Door is located in the heart of the Highlands, at the North end of Mid City Mall. For those of you who aren’t Highlanders, Mid City is a strip mall located between Bardstown and Baxter- the one with Baxter Avenue Theater. There’s a well-lit parking lot and it’s close to a lot of stuff. The Taproom is across the street and Bearno’s, The Bristol, Ramsi’s, Avalon, and Akiko’s are all basically in spitting distance. The neighborhood is one of the safer ones around. Open since 1985, the Back Door was originally a warehouse. The old loading dock is now the smoker’s patio- which is quite a good one- there are umbrellas that serve well on rainy nights and it’s heated. In fact, the Back Door was a key opponent to the Louisville smoking ban.

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It’s sort of a local legend with more LEO awards than I can count- among them, it’s been named Best Neighborhood Dive, Best Free-Pour, and they consistently have the best wings behind Hooter’s and BWW. It’s a great place to shoot pool with six tables (there’s a league that meets on Mondays), but it also boasts foosball, darts, video games, and a bunch of big-screen TVs (take note- this is U of L country).

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Despite its ranks as a dive bar, the Back Door is pretty clean, even the bathrooms. The front room is dominated by murals- one impressionistic sort of work sponsored by Blue Moon, a portrait of happy hour regulars sponsored by Jack Daniels and the door to the patio painted to look open on a sunny day featuring more regulars. I appreciate a bar that appreciates its patrons, so it’s nice to know all those people on the walls are real folks- you might even recognize a few.

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The bar staff is a sort of wonder, as well- Owner John Dant bought it from within his family, so the bar has stayed with the same bloodline since it opened. Furthermore, it’s had the same manager since it opened. Five of the bartenders have been there for twenty years or more. We spoke with Steven- after nine years, he’s one of the new guys. There’s no jukebox, so the tunes you hear are bartender playlists. As far as selection, the beer list is good and cheap. There are daily and weekly specials, and happy hour is every day from 4 to 8.

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 Foodwise, it’s better than the standard bar fare. In addition to the aforementioned wings, there are great sandwiches and the “Back Door Bomber”- a blackened chicken wonton. The crowd is best described as “Highlands-y” (in non-Louisville speak, that means eclectic). It wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to saddle up between a Doctor and a Trucker and see that they’ve found common ground. The place is both mulit-cultural and gay-friendly. It’s a welcoming crowd and a safe place to go alone- in fact, the Back Door is such a common ground, you’re bound to run in to a friend even if you don’t pre-plan a meeting. In addition to the Monday pool league, there’s an open mic on Tuesdays and they’re open every night except Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

 

These drinks are for making it count- they’re for making those memories that’ll get you through darker days. More importantly, though, these drinks are for Nick.

May 13, 2009 Posted by | The Highlands | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Swan Dive

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The Swan Dive has been a bar since the 1920’s, but until about a week ago, it was called “The Dugout.” Though it’s pretty obvious where the old name came from (the bar was literally dug out of the ground), the new one is even better, I believe.

 

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It’s a risky move to call a bar a dive before you see what the crowd will be like, but being located on Swan Street must have made it nearly irresistible. It’s a nice area- close to the Nach, but not so close that the crowd from the Schnizelburg area necessarily has to spill in. Originally, legend has it, the place was pretty shady- a hang out for bookies and the like,  but thus far, the current incarnation seems fairly low key and laid back.

 

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The first thing you’ll notice once inside is the low ceiling. Even the shorter beerologist can touch it, and she’s pocket sized. The place doesn’t have a bar smell yet- right now, it’s reminiscent of a Germantown basement in that regard, and it’s impressively clean- even the bathrooms. The decor is minimal, but I assume tchotchkes may collect with time.

 

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The owner, Becca, assures me there will be shows, but she and her husband/partner Jeremy plan to be considerate of the neighbors in regard to noise. By the way, if you’re looking to chit chat, Becca is the talker of the pair.

 

The menu is where the beauty lies in this place. The beer list is extensive- thirty eight including the elusive Deliriums- and it’s reasonably priced (but be warned- there’s no liquor). There’s also food- all veggie, plenty is vegan friendly, and it looks delicious! Swan Dive is open 5P-2A every day, but there’s also breakfast- including waffles- on Saturday and Sunday starting at 9:30, which we’ll be sure to sample and report on as soon as we drag our asses out of bed before noon on a weekend. 

 

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As the place has only been open for about a week, it’s hard to evaluate the crowd, but it looked like the hipsters had sent their scouts when we were there. Is it possible that we, the beerologists, beat that crowd to something new? Time will tell. What’s certain is that the bar’s landlord was having a drink, which was nice to see.

 

 All in all, these drinks are for the cutting edge- check it out before your friends find it!

May 6, 2009 Posted by | Germantown | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Lounge

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As a continuation of our foray into reader favorites, we would like to introduce those of you who have not yet had the pleasure to an incredibly little bar called The Lounge.  You can find them online at http://www.myspace.com/11971394, and in the flesh at 947 E. Madison St., although it may be easier to think of The Lounge as being located at the corner of Chestnut and Wenzel Streets. I know its confusing —  all I can say is do what you can to find this place, because its totally worth it. Its important to note that the sign outside The Lounge is a Budweiser sign, and “Lounge” is printed in teeny lettering, so know what you’re looking for when you head that way.

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The Lounge has been…wherever it is exactly…for a year, but there’s always been a bar in the location, and it feels like a time capsule. The owner, Shelby, has preserved the old-time feeling, with a Pepsi soda counter serving as the bar, diner seating, and a gorgeous wooden bar back that Shelby thinks is from the 1920’s, while embracing spontaneity.

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Shelby’s whole manifesto on The Lounge is to throw things together and see what sticks, so on Wednesday nights they have an incredible blues jam hosted by Jim Masterson, Thursdays is an Open Mic/Poetry Slam/Movie Night, and Friday and Saturday nights are held for local bands. The crowd is eclectic, and runs the gamut as artists, musicians and drinkers tend to do. The space upstairs is rented out as artist studios, and art is featured throughout the bar. There are wonderful quirks throughout the bar, but the bathroom is especially fabulous – it has a red light and frosted glass door. There’s no disgusting bar smell in The Lounge, just a lovely museum-sort of smell, and the whole place feels very much like New Orleans. Not Garden District New Orleans, but the real New Orleans.

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As far as libations are concerned, this is a strictly bottled beer joint. Every week Shelby tries to add a beer or two to the list, so things are constantly changing. When we were there, all the basics were in stock, as well as some of the better beers, like Long Hammer and Stella. You can get a PBR or a Budweiser in a can for $1.50, so this is a great bar in which to drink yourself out of the recession. Chips are available behind the bar, and it wasn’t too long before the popcorn and mixed nuts came out, for your snacking pleasure.

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The Lounge is the perfect bar for feeling like you’ve gotten out of town without breaking the bank, and we assure you that if you’re as willing to talk to strangers as we are, you’ll meet some real characters while you’re there. If you go on a Wednesday, look around for a jazz drummer named Charles, and ask him about playing pop music in the 60’s. He has more stories than Carter has pills, and he’s something of a charmer, if you ask me.

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These beers are for spontaneity you guys, and getting off the beaten track. Keep your reader recommendations coming, because we love where you’re sending us!

May 3, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 2 Comments

City Scoot and Derby – A Match Made in The Bluegrass State

The safe alternative after a long night- City Scoot
 
We’ve all been out on the town at one point or another and thought “maybe I should just call a cab.”  Why waste your money and not get your car home?  Next time think about the revolutionary alternative: City scoot.  They pick you up… IN YOUR CAR! The concept is simple and the process is easy.
How it works:
About 30 minutes before you are ready to leave the bar or friend’s house dial 56-NO-DUI (566-6384). Tell them where you are drinking and where you are going home to and City Scoot will send a professional, fully insured, designated driver to pick you and your car up.  Your driver will often time pull up riding a small foldable scooter that will fit easily in the trunk of most cars. No room for a scooter? That’s okay too, just let the dispatcher know when you call and they will be sure to send you a driver with a car that chases. It’s that easy, and for about the same cost as a cab ride, you would be crazy not to call!
Pick up area:
City Scoot picks up in the highlands, St. Mathews, Old Louisville and Downtown areas.  I-264 and 5th street are normally the boundaries of their pick up area; however some exceptions can be made pending wait times.
Pricing:
Most fares cost about $20, but if you want to get a better idea there is a way to check.  City Scoot’s pick up fee is $9 with a charge of $3.50 per mile.  When you call in they will run a map from your pick up location to your final destination with the shortest possible miles as to insure there is no “running of the meter” as you will often times see in cabs.  City Scoot also has discounted fares from several Louisville bars, and all Louisville Original restaurants.
For more info visit: www.cityscoot.com

A Note from the Beerologists: This weekend, all of these beers are for Louisville, no matter where you find them. So, in the name of the most exciting two minutes in sports, let’s all be smart. If you drink, don’t drive. Call City Scoot! You know that $3.50/mile is worth your life, and we think smart people are sexy!

May 1, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment