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.
The heads of Back Door (1250 Bardstown Road) regulars are painted on the wall opposite the bar, and it sort of looks like the Sgt. Pepper’s album cover. Up in the painted clouds, four women are depicted in halos and wings, and when you ask the bartender if those are patrons who’ve passed away, she laughs and says, “Everybody asks that. They just like to drink Rosangel tequila.”
In the back, the kitchen provides the bar’s pervasive fried smell. We’re talking greasy onion rings and “door knobs,” which are button mushrooms double dipped in beer batter. Six billiards tables are near the kitchen’s ordering window, where a sign tells hippies to use the back door. Wall racks hold some pool sticks, but the shark who wants your table is bringing his own cue, probably in a carrying case. A challenger sets his (or her) 75 cents onto the table’s edge when he’s decided you’ve been playing long enough.
The bartenders at the Back Door, you should know, are heralded for their notoriously (and wonderfully) stiff drinks, which could be a $2.75 “scotch with a mixer of your choice” depending on the week’s special.
Overheard: "Bye Steve, happy birthday! We'll see you soon."
– Back Door bartender
Photo: Courtesy The Back Door