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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.

It seems as if somebody raided a yard sale for the motley assortment of kitschy pictures (yes, that very well could be White Fang) that cover the wall to your left as you enter the Outlook Inn (916 Baxter Ave.), whose proper name you may not know but whose Falls City Beer sign hanging out front you’d surely recognize. The male bartenders, with biceps the size of medicine balls, are a little intimidating but always attentive, especially if they recognize your face. FYI: They won’t turn down a shot if you’re buying.

Outlook Inn, which has been around almost 40 years, is not dirty, but it’s also not sterile — which is often the best type of drinking atmosphere. And it’s different from the other spots on bar-soaked Baxter Avenue because, for starters, we’ve never had to pay a cover charge, even during Derby Week. A bartender’s iPod supplies the music, which trends toward the heavier stuff but doesn’t blare from the speakers at a volume that turns conversations into shouting matches. In an adjacent room, there’s a digital jukebox and some pool tables and a Ms. Pacman/Galaga arcade game. No matter how thick the crowd, your group can always escape to a less-congested area.

And this, friends, is the obligatory sentence ordering you to drink a famous, made-from-scratch Bloody Mary, if for some reason you haven’t already done so.

Overheard: "Wow, you're already here?! I was just getting read to text you!" – Outlook Inn customer

Photo: John Nation

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Didn't I tell you? I run this place! Not much goes on here without me knowing...I'm always watching.

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