Louisville is Kentucky’s largest city and one of the US’s hidden gems. Muhammad Ali’s grave, the Kentucky Derby, the Louisville Slugger Museum, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and the Cardinals all call Louisville home.
Not to mention that the city is a hotspot along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. If you didn’t know, Kentucky, particularly Louisville, is known for its bourbon and distilleries.
Whether you’re on a foodie getaway or a local looking for new spots, be sure to try at least one bourbon cocktail from one of the best bars in Louisville, Kentucky.
425 W Chestnut St, Louisville, KY 40202
META is a craft cocktail lounge located in Downtown Louisville. META features a hip-retro aesthetic with an upscale, speakeasy vibe suitable for casual to business-formal dress.
The cocktail menu is vast, featuring an assortment of delicious in-house creations and classic staples like Manhattans and Palomas.
For entertainment, META features live music most nights of the week. Indie, folk, and rock genres are mainstays with the occasional DJ set.
I especially liked their live music because it was quiet enough to enjoy conversation amongst friends.
275 S Preston St, Louisville, KY 40217
Zanzabar is located in Saint Joseph on Lynn St. and South Preston St. Zanzabar is a cozy neighborhood tavern with a wide selection of beers, pinball machines, and live music.
Zanzabar’s ambiance is casual and friendly. The staff is amiable, the service is quick, and the patrons are lively and sociable.
For entertainment, Zanzabar features two walls of retro and contemporary pinball machines at $1 a play and an intimate music venue that regularly hosts national acts.
The bar also features a patio perfect for people-watching during the temperate months.
Chill Bar Highlands
1117 Bardstown Rd, Louisville, KY 40204
Chill Bar Highlands is a gay bar located north of the Cherokee Triangle neighborhood. This gay bar features a lively, amicable scene where everyone is welcome regardless of their sexual orientation.
This venue features a variety of entertainment, including DJ sets, trivia nights, drag shows, and karaoke. The tropical-themed patio is the highlight of Chill Bar Highlands.
Stop by and bask in the sun while chatting with the friendly, witty staff.
700 E Market St, Louisville, KY 40202
Garage Bar is situated in the East Market District neighborhood on E Market St and S Clay Street. Located just a few blocks from the Louisville Slugger Stadium and the Ohio River, Garage Bar is a great place to stop for a bite and a quick drink during a day in Louisville.
Garage Bar features a large selection of craft and imported beers, cocktails, and some wine. Garage Bar serves up brick-oven fired pizza and traditional southern plates.
Enjoy your food with friends on the huge patio to enjoy the summer weather, or keep it casual with a beer at the bar.
1034 Bardstown Rd, Louisville, KY 40204
Holy Grale is located in the Highlands Neighborhood a few blocks away from Cave Hill Cemetery and Muhammad Ali’s grave.
Located in a charming brick church from the turn of the 20th century, Holy Grale has a distinctive German beer garden vibe. Don’t be fooled though. Beer isn’t the only thing on the menu.
Alongside their alcoholic drinks, Holy Grale serves espresso, coffee drinks, and top-notch new American fare crafted by artisanal chef Jonathan Searle.
Holy Grale closes early compared to other bars on Bardstown, and it fills up quickly because of its ambiance, so be sure to get there early.
Proof On Main
702 W Main St, Louisville, KY 40202
Proof On Main is a must-visit if you love contemporary art, artisanal cocktails, and fine dining. Proof On Main is a new southern fare restaurant featuring cocktails and craft beers just a block from the Ohio River.
Proof On Main is a new take on southern tradition. The restaurant features a museum vibe with an attached art gallery. The vibe at Proof On Main is relaxed but modern.
A rotating menu featuring new creations from the kitchen team keeps things interesting, while the friendly wait staff and bartenders make you feel at home.
807 E Market St, Louisville, KY 40206
Taj Louisville is located in the bustling district of East Market. Taj Louisville is a low-key lounge with a bourbon-forward drink menu.
Taj Louisville features a wide selection of local and regional bourbons that highlight Kentucky’s rich whisky history. Dim mood lighting and friendly staff make Taj Louisville a fool-proof hit for a mellow weekend or cold winter night.
Taj Louisville features small collections of local artwork for entertainment. There’s no live entertainment at Taj Louisville, so come prepared to socialize.
Never Say Die Bar
3900 Shelbyville Rd Suite 11, Louisville, KY 40207
Never Say Die Bar is at the junction of Crescent Hill and St. Matthews on Shelbyville Rd, right around the corner from Breckenridge.
This art-funk cocktail bar has become a favorite of locals for its fun drink menu, friendly service, and support of the local art scene.
If you’re hungry, feel free to order food from one of the hundreds of restaurants nearby. Never Say Die Bar is a no-gimmick cocktail-forward bar.
If you feel like your nightlife is in a rut, stop in and try one of Never Say Die’s eclectic concoctions.
1149 S Shelby St, Louisville, KY 40203
Trouble Bar is located between Shelby Park and German Town on S. Shelby St. and E. Oak St. Trouble Bar is woman-owned and prides itself on creating a welcoming, LGBTQ+ friendly drinking environment.
The staff is friendly, knowledgable, and happy to guide patrons through the bar’s extensive drink menu. Stop in for a casual cocktail or come with friends and try a whiskey flight.
The whiskey flight is a great way to learn about Kentucky’s whiskey history and catch a buzz.
1765 Bardstown Rd, Louisville, KY 40205
Darling’s is a cocktail bar sandwiched between Bonny Castle and Deer Park. Darling’s has a chic, yet welcoming vibe where patrons can feel comfortable dressing up or dressing down.
The relaxed ambiance comes with a reserved but delicious drink menu featuring cocktails, craft beer, and wine. Matching the minimal menu is an intimate space perfect for conversation.
The expertly-crafted and reasonably-priced cocktails are the crown jewel of Darling’s. I recommend the Robin Hood for a spicy one to start the night.
950 Barret Ave, Louisville, KY 40204
ShopBar is a relaxed bar with an attached shop featuring bespoke jewelry, handbags, and other accessories crafted by local artists.
I applaud ShopBar for connecting the local art scene to the greater community. They also serve strong but balanced drinks at a reasonable price.
Additionally, ShopBar’s spacious seating area provides ample room for large parties. ShopBar’s mellow also offers enough acoustic real estate to accommodate tasteful music and quiet contemplation.
Hell or High Water
112 W Washington St, Louisville, KY 40202
Hell or High Water is a cool-cat whisky bar featuring dim lighting and couch seating. Located a few blocks from the Ohio River, west of the East Markets District sits Hell or High Water.
Hell or High Water feels like stepping back into a 1920s jazz bar: The music is hot and soulful, and the drinks are potent and smooth.
Like most cool bars, Hell or High Water fills up quickly, especially during live music events. Take the time to make reservations to ensure you get seated.
969 Charles St, Louisville, KY 40204
Nachbar is a hip hangout in the heart of Germantown featuring local and imported beers, an inviting ambiance, and a dog-friendly patio.
Nachbar is an exemplary neighborhood bar with inexpensive drink options and friendly staff and patrons. Nachbar’s unpretentious atmosphere makes it welcoming to tourists as well.
Feel free to stop in and experience the friendly culture of Louisville.
400 S 2nd St, Louisville, KY 40202
Library Bar is a classy cocktail bar with a bourbon-forward drink menu nestled in the heart of Downtown on the ground floor of the Omni Louisville Hotel.
As the name suggests, Library Bar features a nuevo-retro library aesthetic perfect for contemplation and high-quality bourbon. Library Bar’s mellow ambiance is best suited for patrons looking for a quiet place to unwind.
If you liven up after a drink or two, the approachable bartenders have plenty of suggestions for things to do in town.
Barret Bar & Grill
1012 Barret Ave, Louisville, KY 40204
Barret Bar & Grill sits between Highlands and Germantown on Barret Ave and E. Oak Street. Barret Bar & Grill is a straightforward, casual tavern offering American bar fare, inexpensive drinks, and pool tables.
Barret Bar & Grill welcomes people from all walks of life, so stop in for a drink and a friendly game of pool.
Louisville, Kentucky, has a lively neighborhood bar scene suited for locals and tourists alike. Stop in at Proof On Main for a delicious southern plate paired with a modern whiskey cocktail, or keep it casual with a patio beer at Nachbar.
And just because you’re in Louisville doesn’t mean you have to drink. You can sip an espresso at Holy Grale or Barret Bar & Grill and still have a great time—but I recommend trying at least one bourbon drink while in Louisville.
Did I forget one of the best bars in Louisville, Kentucky? Drop a comment below if your favorite haunt didn’t make my list. I’ll check it out next time I’m in Louisville.
Best Bars in Louisville
- Chill Bar Highlands
- Garage Bar
- Holy Grale
- Proof On Main
- Taj Louisville
- Never Say Die Bar
- Trouble Bar
- Hell or High Water
- Library Bar
- Barret Bar & Grill
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