Julie*, a bartender friend of mine who once told me all the secrets of getting a drink fast at a bar, was kind enough to tell me what it's like to bartend in Louisville. Julie has tended bar at Improv on Fourth Street (RIP), Village Anchor, Z's Fusion and O'Shea's to name a few.
So what’s everyone in Louisville ordering right now?
There’s a really cool rise in Prohibition-Era cocktails. These usually consist of liquor, bitters, and not a lot else. They’re usually really tasty and pack a huge punch. I’m not going to say you can’t have more than two, but maybe you shouldn’t.
What’s your favorite drink?
I really love a dirty gin martini with blue cheese stuffed olives. And Port, but only myself and old British grandmothers love port. Mezcal (Tequila’s drunken younger brother) is a favorite of mine as well, so I look for drinks with that as an ingredient when I’m out. Don’t be afraid to ask the bartender what they suggest. DO NOT tell them to surprise you.
"Don't be afraid to ask the bartender what they suggest. DO NOT tell them to surprise you...if you want something fancy, don't be a jerk about it. I don't mind making anything for someone who is appreciative of my skills."
What’s your least favorite drink to make?
F*** Mojitos. They require the juice of three limes and mint and a bunch of love to taste like glory. I’m not saying they aren’t delicious. But they suck to make. If you want something fancy, don’t be a jerk about it. I don’t mind making anything for someone who is appreciative of my skills.
What is your favorite place to grab a drink in Louisville?
I love Nach Bar for their beer selection and patio. The Silver Dollar has a great cocktail list right now, and Proof’s is always on point. If you want to dance while you get your drink on, Nowhere and Zanzabar are where it’s at.
Best thing about tending bar in Louisville?
I love bartending. It has made me a more confident person, has allowed me to meet some really interesting people, and gain access to the liquor tent at Forecastle. So it’s definitely fun. It’s also a lot of hard work. Every night is like throwing a party at your house that you get to clean up after. But the thrill of busting through swathes of people for hours, laughing, joking, and generally making the magic happen for hours is some of the most fun I’ve ever had.
*not her real name.