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.
When you need a break from your neighborhood bar-and-grill, put on your little black dress (or its male equivalent) and head to the bar at Proof on Main  (702 W. Main St.). There’s nothing dark or seedy about this spot, although the bronze statue that resembles Satan holding a forbidden apple evokes a spirit of playful sin. During happy hour, huge windows let plenty of natural light pour in. Pop-art paintings hang on white walls. Shiny plastic animal heads peer at you from the ceiling. Soft music plays, but the steady hum of conversations and clinking glasses are the main sounds. Business casual professionals gather to sip martinis and talk shop. Later in the evening, dimmed lights cast a soft glow over the fashionable crowd.
Don’t be intimidated by the valet parking and sleek, modern decor. Bartenders and servers are accessible and skillful. This is the bar where you ditch your usual libation and expand your cocktail-drinking repertoire. Expect unexpected flavor combinations from the seasonal-cocktail menu. If cocktails aren’t your thing, order from the wine list or choose a set of bourbon flights. Actually, get whatever you want. You probably can’t go wrong at a bar that employs a full-time beverage director.
Photo: Courtesy Proof on Main