This article appears in the January 2011 issue of Louisville Magazine. To subscribe, please visit loumag.com.
Don’t know about you, but we could really use a drink right about now. So we’ve scoured the city to find our 21 favorite bars — from upscale jazz joints to dives where your beer bottle sticks to the table. We’ve also tossed in some personalities familiar with local nightlife and quotes we overheard while out on the town.
Sara Havens has worked at LEO Weekly for a little more than a decade, and over time she developed a reputation around the office for her tales of weekend bar antics. In 2006, she adopted the alias “the Bar Belle” and began her weekly column about Louisville nightlife. To stimulate even more bar patronage, she posts hilarious reasons to drink (quotes, original poems, pictures, anecdotes about her life) each day on LEO’s website. Havens estimates that she’s visited 300 bars during her reign as Bar Belle, and her favorite drink is a sidecar made with Miller Lite and Maker’s Mark.
Do you have a favorite bar?
“It would have to be the Back Door, followed closely by the Dundee Tavern.”
What Louisville bars do you miss?
“The Red Lounge on Frankfort Avenue was pretty cool. I also miss the Pink Door.”
If you could have a drink with one famous Louisvillian, who would it be?
“Diane Sawyer? She seems like she could drink some bourbon.”
What’s your annual bar tab?
“I try not to think about it. And I wouldn’t want my mom to find out.”
Where are Louisville’s worst bar bathrooms?
“Air Devils Inn is up there. Their bathrooms are really sketchy. They have shower-curtain doors. You have to pull a handle to flush the toilet, and it doesn’t always work.”
Do you get a lot of hate mail from healthy-lifestyle advocates?
“I get a few letters-to-the-editor saying I’m perpetuating alcoholism, but I do the column kind of tongue-in-cheek. It’s not just about drinking; it’s about Louisville’s nightlife and the characters in it. I do take kind of a frat-boy stance, but I try not to go overboard.”
What bar recommendations do people ask you for?
“I always get asked where people can get laid. I always tell them Phoenix Hill Tavern. Or Jim Porter’s, which is basically the same thing for older people.”
Have you ever done the Bambi Walk?
“I think it’s a myth. I’ve never known anyone who’s actually done it. That’s like 23 bars. You would have to start at noon.”
Photo: John Nation