Affectionately called “Bourbon City”, Louisville, Kentucky is home to some of the most unique and innovative distilleries and bars in the US. From modern and stylish tasting rooms, to underground prohibition-style speakeasies, to charming hotel bars that are dripping with history… Louisville’s drinking scene has something for everyone. Here’s a few of our favorites from every category:
While Old Forester is famous for being America’s first bottled bourbon, their 70,000-square-foot distillery is one of the newest hot spots on Whiskey Row! They just completed a $45 million renovation on their original building, and the result is nothing short of breathtaking. Tickets for the Old Forester Distillery tour are $16/person, and the tour includes and extensive look inside the history and distilling of bourbon, the bottling process, a tasting, and more. More specifically, you’ll learn about George Garvin Brown, a visionary in the world of whiskey who was one of the first to distill a quality bourbon. You’ll also find out how Old Forester was able to keep producing whiskey during prohibition. Their are the only bourbon continuously distilled before, during, and after prohibition. They must know what they’re doing. (Reservations are recommended, you can do so here.)
Founded in 1753, Michter’s is considered to be America’s first whiskey company, and to this day they make some of the finest single barrel and small batch whiskeys on the market. Their distillery is also new to downtown Louisville, as it just opened its doors after an 8-year renovation in January, 2019! Tickets for the Michter’s Distillery Tour are $20/person, and the tour includes an inside look into the whiskey production process, a whiskey tasting, and a cocktail demonstration in their second-floor bar, “The Bar at Fort Nelson”. Our recommendation is that you spend some time sipping on the Sour Mash - it is fantastic! (Reservations are recommended, you can do so here.)
Having opened Kentucky’s first distillery on the banks of the Ohio River in 1783, Evan Williams has been around for many years and many whiskey barrels. They produce a quality bourbon that is a fantastic introduction for those that aren’t whiskey drinkers. The Evan Williams Bourbon Experience will offer the history of how Louisville was settled and became the bourbon mecca that it is today, knowledgeable guides that will share the process of distilling bourbon, and a whiskey tasting at the end of the tour. The 1 hour tastings are $14/person, and you can make reservations here. Enjoy!
What we love about Angel’s Envy is that they have taken the bourbon tradition and combined it with their expertise to create a phenomenal whiskey. They hand blend small batches and taste every barrel as it ages. What makes them different is that they finish their bourbon in ruby port casks, and their ryes in rum barrels. Angel’s Envy whiskey emerges with a complex aroma, sophisticated taste, and long, lingering finish. Sorry if that was too much, but Angel’s Envy is special. If you would like to visit, they have tours by reservation only. It’s worth visiting to see their process and taste some of their fine whiskeys. (You can make reservations here)
PIN & PROOF
A modern speakeasy hidden behind a moving painting is cool on its own… but throw a bowling alley into the mix, and now we’re really talking! Pin & Proof is located in the luxurious Omni Louisville, tucked away behind a modern painting near the Library Bar. From the moment you step inside you feel as though you’ve entered into a dimly-lit labyrinth. Whether or not you decide to bowl, the bar alone is worth a visit. Try their 1881 Old Fashioned!
HELL OR HIGH WATER
If you’ve ever wanted to step inside a time machine, head to Hell or High Water, a speakeasy located underneath Whiskey Row. Accessible through a little curio shop with no signage, it can be easy to miss - so keep a lookout. The interior is designed to feel like a real 1930’s speakeasy, and they did an incredible job. It’s surprisingly spacious, with hidden rooms and an upper level that’s every bit as picturesque as the bar below. Make a reservation in advance, as it does get busy. (You can do so here.)
HISTORIC HOTEL BARS
THE LOBBY BAR
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, The Brown Hotel is famous not only for its glamorous architectural features, but for its iconic Lobby Bar as well! You’ll find classic comfort food like Lobster Mac and Cheese, The Hot Brown, and Derby Pie, and you’ll find handcrafted cocktails and bourbon flights that’ll please anyone’s palette. We suggest trying their Mint Julep, featuring Jim Beam bourbon, simple syrup, and lots of fresh mint. The Lobby Bar has been named One of 150 Best Bars in America for 2019, and it’s easy to see why!
OLD SEELBACH BAR
This restored early 1900’s bar not only has an impressive bourbon collection, but some celebrated craft cocktails too! Located in the famed Seelbach Hilton, The Old Seelbach Bar has been visited by many a famous face over the years - most recently Billy Joel was spotted playing the bar’s piano! Try their popular “Seelbach Cocktail”, made with Old Forester Bourbon, cointreau bitters and sparkling wine!