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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.

The Zanzabar (2100 S. Preston St.) we know today is a resurrection of the building’s past life as a bar called, you guessed it, Zanzibar. The large black tile “Z” on the outside of the building has been there since the 1930s. And since Zanzibar was reincarnated in 2008 (when the “i” became an “a”), the focus has been on three things: food, beer and live music. If you come early, which means before 10 p.m. or even 11 for the Zanzabar crowd, you can easily grab a table and order snacks such as prosciutto-wrapped mozzarella or fried pickles. The salty, greasy bar food pairs perfectly with the rotating selection of microbrews or $1.50 cans of the bar’s best-seller, Pabst Blue Ribbon. The covered porch on the side of the building offers a flashback to pre-smoking-ban bar culture.

Walk in on any given weekend and you can find a mass of college-age hipsters packed around the small stage, which is practically on the same level as the floor you’re standing on. If you’re already into indie rock — national and local artists play here — then you know this is the place to be. If you’re not, here’s a tip: Mentioning a band you saw here will make you sound a lot cooler.   

Photo: Courtesy Zanzabar

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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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