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.

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

Ray’s Monkey House

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Nestled between Café 360 and Cumberland Brews on Bardstown Road, in the same building that once housed the late, great Twice Told Books is Ray’s Monkey House. Another bar/coffee shop hybrid that I’m willing to call a “bar shop”, Ray’s can be viewed online at www.raysmonkeyhouse.com, where they have a full menu and a schedule of special events they have coming up for the month. They also have a blog of their very own available on their site, complete with some very cute pictures of the owner, Nimbus, and his kids. They’re just across the street from Za’s, down the block from the Hideaway and a candidate for the newest stop on the Bambi Walk. Contrary to popular belief, Ray’s is not connected to Café 360, they just had the same artist (Noah Church) do their signs. The result is a cohesive corner on one of the most popular streets in Louisville. They’re open from 8am-11pm (more or less) and have live music every night, with some standing engagements. Tuesday nights are their Bluegrass Jam night, Wednesdays are dedicated to Open Mic, and Friday nights are their Jazz Jam night.

 

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If you scroll down, you’ll see that we related Derby City Espresso to your buddy’s living room. Specifically, DCE is Matt Landan’s living room, with that urban vibe that we love so much and associate with Downtown, right? Well, Ray’s Monkey House accomplishes a similar feat.

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Ray’s is the product of another man with a plan, this time a man named Nimbus. Nimbus’ plan? Create a place that is kid friendly and family oriented, while still being hip enough to survive on Bardstown Rd. Our verdict? Mission accomplished. There are lots of activities for kids like coloring, toys and picture books, and their open mic nights and jam sessions are open to kids with musical talent. They even have a seating section totally dedicated to kids with pint sized tables and chairs. The walls are brightly painted, the floors are hardwood and the ceilings are copper colored. There’s tons of comfy seating, and a separate (red) room available for meetings and birthday parties. We also noticed several cool chandeliers, one of which was in the ladies room. They have a little bit of outside seating, which provides some of the best people-watching available.

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While I know that I’m supposed to focus on the beer (and trust me, we’ll get there), I’d like to take this opportunity to comment on the manifesto over at Ray’s. They are committed to being 100% organic and fair trade, and they’re also completely vegetarian/vegan. We were impressed by their selection of fresh fruit, baked goods and organic snacks and we noticed that they’re offering a grilled cheese and avocado sandwich that we can’t wait to try. Furthermore, they roast all their coffee in house, so you know its awesome.

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Which brings us to the alcohol portion of our program (everyone’s favorite portion). All their beers are local and/or small batch microbrews. They have competitive prices and a great selection in bottles. On draught they currently only have two beers which aren’t local, one of which is Small Craft Warning, a great, hoppy lager that we recommend highly.

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I never thought I would say this, but these beers are for hanging out with your kids (or your buddy’s kids, or Nimbus’ kids). Be responsible though, ok?

 

Current Music: Hey Man – The Eels

March 28, 2009 Posted by | The Highlands | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Monkeywrench

Does anyone really know what to call that place between the Highlands and Germantown? That area is like an abyss. Some people call it the Original Highlands, some people call it Lower Germantown while still other people call it Paris Town Point. What we need is another bridge, and we shall call that bridge, The Monkeywrench! Located at the corner of Winter and Barret, right across the street from the Barret Bar, The Monkeywrench wants to be your segway between Germantown and Bardstown Rd., and they’re willing to work for it. 

This restaurant/bar hybrid has a full menu of food that they serve until about midnight, and a brunch on Saturday and Sundays from 11-2, complete with mimosas. They’re only open til 2 AM out of respect for the residents of the neighborhood but they have a parking lot and street parking aplenty. They don’t have any games like you’ll find at the Pour Haus, but they do have regular live music on Tuesdays and Wednesdays are bluegrass night (Relic was playing while we were there). And while we’re on the subject of music, we all know that the Monkeywrench was beginning to get something of a reputation for being a nightclub-esque spot, but all that is changing. While  they are bringing in regular live music, they want to get down to their roots, which means music you can drink to. The Monkeywrench is also billed as the sports bar for non-sports fans, and this is pretty serious U of L country. So, the next time you want to watch the game without being bombarded by drunk Frat guys, head toward the Monkeywrench and they’ll see to it you have a good time. 

Denny, the owner, told us that the Monkeywrench had previous lives as a Pita Delights and a dry cleaners. He made the bar from the old duct work from the dry cleaning era, the light fixtures are made of blown glass and the floor is painted concrete. In fact, the whole place has a great industrial vibe that makes you feel like you can relax while you have a burger without being grimy. The ceilings in the bar room are postered, and there are tons of local stickers behind the bar. We also spotted a TV on top of a piano and those awesome mechanical fortune tellers that you never see anymore. 

As far as the beer list goes, this one tops the charts. They have a great selection of local bars on draught, along with some standard favorites like Magic Hat #9 and Bell’s Two Hearted. They serve your beer to you in an actual glass and yes, you can take it outside to smoke a cigarette. And you know that roof deck they’ve been working on? Its still in the works, with an estimated finish time of late Spring. They’ll be serving bottled beer and booze, but no draught beers. The current outdoor seating is a little tough to negotiate because its confined to the sidewalk to allow patrons to park, but persevere and you may find that you have the best of all things drinking. 

So after much contemplation, the Beerologists have decided that these beers are for bridges. So get some people together and bridge a gap.

March 21, 2009 Posted by | Germantown, The Highlands | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Pink Door

I think the Pink Door had a good idea. The concept was a noodle bar/ tea house/ hipster-accommodating dance club. I’m speaking in past tense because it’s recently changed owners, so we’ve yet to see what happens. I’m writing about this bar as it’s been so far. I’m hoping stuff doesn’t change too much.

The Pink Door isn’t really in a “bar zone”- it’s more of a stand-alone on Douglass Loop. It’s right behind that Heine Bro.’s. You’ll know it by the Pink Door. Crazy, huh? It’s a safe area to be around and it you count the Kinko’s next door, this in one of the better parking situations in the metro.

As for entertainment, the Pink Door is a dance club. It’s possibly the coolest one in town, I believe, due primarily to the crowd it draws. It’s mostly free of toddlers with fake IDs and creepy folks just looking to get laid (you’ll find them on some other dance floors in town). It’s the fun of a frat party without the frat boys. Louisville’s music nerds and good time enthusiasts tend to be around without pretense. It must be noted, though, that I’m basically describing a weekend night- The Pink Door also hosts swing nights, shows, poetry readings, and “Thurs-gay”- the same dancing, but more argumentative lesbians, from what I hear. All events are listed on their myspace.

The place is clean, even the bathroom, and well engineered for traffic flow everywhere but the bar. It often takes a minute to get a drink. Decor is simplistic, one of the hi-lights being a full-wall projection screen that generally shows ambient images that respond to the music. There’s also generally a fog machine in action.

Drinks are reasonably priced and in addition to the standards, there’s a huge variety of teas and $1 sake shots. Currently, the kitchen is on hiatus, but rumor has it the new owners plan to bring back the asian fusion cuisine.

The Pink Door’s a great place to shake it, whether you take a crowd or meet a new one. I suggest rounding up a group of girls and getting silly costumes at Unique, but that’s just me. The crowd’s down with that sort of thing, though. They’re mostly mid-20’s to early 30’s, intelligent, and looking for fun in a locally-owned joint. Considering that warm weather has a lot of town all twitter-pated, these are drinks for killing spring-fever.


March 11, 2009 Posted by | The Highlands | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

News Flash!

The Beerologists now Twitter!!

Check it out at: twitter.com/Beerologists

Oh! And, I know you guys have been asking about our domain name and we’ve been saying “yea, yea, yea” but we really are on it, and we’ve narrowed it down to just a couple names. Stay tuned for updates there. 

Beerologists on the move!!

March 1, 2009 Posted by | Bambi Walk, Germantown, Old Louisville, The Highlands | Leave a comment

The Hideaway

If we’re talking about hole-in-the-wall bars (and we are), our list would be sorely incomplete if we didn’t mention The Hideaway Saloon. And they don’t call it The Hideaway for nothin’ – technically the bar is located at 1607 Bardstown Rd., but if you are anything like me and rely on landmarks to get around, The Hideaway is between Leatherhead’s and the hair shop across from Book and Music Exchange. Its also nestled back between the buildings, up a flight of stairs and through a door. If you still have location confusion let us know and we’ll try to help. Aside from some slight problems arising from being hidden, apropos to its name, The Hideaway is easily one of the best bars in Louisville being incredibly safe, reasonably clean and offering 160 beers and regularly scheduled live music. Make sure to check out their MySpace at:  www.myspace.com/hideawaysaloon 

At its heart, The Hideaway is your quintessential Hippie bar. The staff is really friendly and always good for a beer recommendation if you’re in the mood for something new. We tried Black Majic Java Stout on Compass’ word and loved it!  Also, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the $2 Mystery Bucket special, which is one of the most original ways we’ve found to get clientele to broaden their alcoholic horizons.On tap they’ve got the old standards, plus Magic Hat #9 and She Devil, some personal Beerologist recommendations!! Sometimes the crowd can get pretty heavy at The Hideaway if they’ve got a favorite band in to play, but the folks are generally great for all kinds of conversation and really friendly. This is not a bar that you need to take people with you in order to have a good time – you can go in, sit at the bar and within moments be talking to a fellow drinker about anything from non-profit work to conspiracy theories. But, if you do bring some buddies along, be sure to check out the Hideaway’s second floor. They’ve got more seating, pool tables, darts, pin ball and one of those new fangled juke boxes that searches the Internet for the song you want to hear. However, be warned for the stairs to the second floor are steep and narrow and not to be undertaken lightly if you’ve over-imbibed. 

The Hideaway is very close to the Baxter Ave. bars (like The Taproom!), Cumberland Brews, Cafe 360, Ray’s Monkey House, Za’s and The Backdoor. Additionally, they have their own kitchen which produces some of the best bar food in the city. Its also the half way mark on the infamous Bambi Walk. Anecdotally, one of your adorable Beerologists attempted to complete the Bambi Walk for her 21st birthday and only made it to The Hideaway and yes, she did throw up on the walk home. Furthermore The Hideaway was the first bar the Beerologists attended together and where we smoked our first hand rolled cigarettes. We were 19. Nowadays they card religiously, so don’t go gettin’ any ideas young’un! 

In closing, allow us to say that these beers are great for hanging out, but may just be better for getting laid. The Hideaway is a far cry from a meat market, but they’ve got some great deals of the Hippie variety, if you’re shopping around. Just promise us you’ll use protection! 

 

Current Music: Paul Simon – You Can Call Me Al

January 10, 2009 Posted by | Bambi Walk, The Highlands | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Highland’s Taproom

Let the social experimentation begin! Do you feel like a guinea pig yet? Well you should. Except maybe without the mad, sticky-outy hair. 

 

The Highlands Taproom is located on Bardstown Road, right across from Mid-City Mall,  in the heart of the Highlands. They’re open ’til 4 am, 7 days a week and have a huge beer pong tournament every Tuesday. Check out their website at http://www.HighlandsTaproom.com for band schedules, etc. 

For those of you unfamiliar with the Highlands (shame on you!), the Taproom is a great place to start familiarizing yourself with the area. The neighborhood is one of the safest and most solid in Louisville, with a lovely mix of businesses and private houses and while parking can sometimes be a challenge, most everything is close enough together that you only need to park once and can walk for the rest of the evening. A word to the wise, park in the National City parking lot after they close, rather than in Mid-City Mall’s parking lot because they will tow, randomly and without proper warning. If you have to park on the street, I prefer parking a street off of Bardstown Rd., because traffic is so heavy at night. 

From top to bottom, the Taproom is all we know and love in a neighborhood bar. They have a nightly beer special, which changes on Saturdays and live,local music every night. They swear by their mugs never to host a cover band and they have Karaoke on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. For the competitive of nature, they have pool tables (Free on Tuesdays!!) and foosball in the back. They also have huge beer pong tournaments on Tuesdays, oh Gaming One. If you’re feeling particularly anti-social or want to watch the ball game (this is UK territory, people) there’s a big screen television upstairs, complete with cable access. 

The really special thing about the Taproom is their beer club. Its not the typical, drink a bunch of $5 beers you don’t like to get a negligible discount on the two beers you actually drink club. You pay $20, one time, for a giant (22 oz) beer mug and you get a spot on the wall to hang that mug on for life! They have no “annual dues”, and your first beer is free. After that first beer, you pay $3.75 for your beers on tap from then on. That’s every draft beer, every day. Not bad, huh? And they wouldn’t be able to call it “The Taproom” if they didn’t have a pretty great selection of beers on draught:  13 hand crafted, small batch beers including Magic Hat, Murphy’s Irish Stout, Kirin Ichiban, Nitro Porter, Old Style, Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale, BBC Nut Brown, Widmer Hefe, and then some run of the mill brews like Blue Moon, Rolling Rock and Amber Bock. In bottles, they have your very typical Budweiser, Bud Light, Miller Lite, Miller Highlife, Coors Lite, Corona, Heineken, Amstel Lite, Woodchuck Cider, Red Stripe, Stella Artois and (randomly) Sharp’s non-alcoholic.  Beers are a pretty typical 2-5 bucks, with $2 Miller Highlifes every day and a $1.50 shot special, which is whatever they choose at the beginning of the night. 

Now, they also have a daily beer special. The schedule is:

Sunday – $2.50 wells, $2.00 domestic bottles

Monday – $3 Jager, $2 Bud/Bud Lite, $2.50 Early Times

Tuesday – $2 Old Style Draughts

Wednesday – $3 Jager, $4 Jager Bombs

Thursday – $1.50 Highlifes and Coors Lites

Friday – $3 Jager, $4 Jager Bombs, $2.50 Killians Draughts

Saturday – Vary Weekly, but there’s always something cheap!

In the summer I’ve been known to begin and end my evening at the Taproom. The patio outside is great, with lots of tables and plenty of people-watching opportunities. Not much help in January, but its great in July. If you’re one of those many people who gets hungry as they get drunk though, you’ll have to go down the street to get eats, as they don’t have a menu at the Taproom. Not really a problem, considering you’re next door to Kashmir (the best Indian food in the world!) and just steps from Skyline Chili, City Cafe, McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Just Fresh, Subway and so on. The Back Door, and lots of the bars on Irish row also serve food and are incredibly near by. 

As far as atmosphere goes, the decor is pretty typical except for the large (and growing!) collection of beer mugs hanging on the walls and the bar is as clean as can be expected. I will say though, that its always smelled a little funny in there since the wretched smoking ban passed. Its a safe place for a couple girls to go together, without protection. The worst that will happen to you is that some of the regulars will probably hit on you at some point.  And we all know you can handle that. 

Allow me to say, when this bar gets crowded, the lay out is not conducive to easy travel. There’s a very narrow space between the wall and the bar, so it gets tough to order sometimes, also. However, there are all sorts of people in attendance at the Taproom from all ages, stages and backgrounds. A word of wisdom though, seeing as how I got kicked out when I was underage, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that its not an easy place to score an illegal beer. Occasionally, one can even find a Camel Fairy at the Taproom for free cigarettes! 

All in all, I’d say these beers are for hanging out. The Taproom and I go way back and I can honestly say, this is the bar I attend when I want company and conversation. The friends you bring with you are recruited, not for salvation but rather for company and you’re pretty well assured to make a new friend. Nothing in the world to keep you from going and getting a Magic Hat #9, but be prepared to see someone you know! 

 

Current Music: Peter, Bjorn and John – Young Folks

December 31, 2008 Posted by | Bambi Walk, The Highlands | , , , , | Leave a comment