When you live in Kentucky, you better believe you should know at least a thing or two about bourbon. Whether you just want to get a little knowledge on the history or actually plan on becoming an expert on our spirit of choice, there are plenty of reasons to learn about one of our largest exports. The best news is that where there’s plenty of bourbon, there’s bound to be plenty of bourbon bars. Here are a few of the best that the state has to offer to both experts and newbies alike…
1. Bluegrass Tavern – Lexington
Decisions, decisions… when it comes to having a lot of options to choose from, no one does it better than the Bluegrass Tavern in Lexington. With the largest bourbon collection in Kentucky, they have over 400 types of bourbon; quite a few of which are rare or vintage. Our only advice is to not go in trying to order something without bourbon in it. A bourbon aged beer is acceptable, but if you go in trying to order a martini, they’re going to look at you like you’re the devil himself.
What to Order: Something straight up or on the rocks. Although we always have a soft spot for Four Roses.
2. The Silver Dollar – Louisville
Having a lot of bourbon isn’t everything, though, and Louisville’s Silver Dollar goes the extra step. Sure, they have over 100 different types of bourbon, but they also make some killer Southern Comfort food and always have some kind of classic Country music playing in the background. After all, what better way to enjoy bourbon than with some classic Merle Haggard on vinyl as the backdrop? Some things were just meant to go together.
What to Order: One of their seasonal cocktails. Complete with Brisket Sandwich. Smoky bourbon and smoky BBQ are a match made for Kentucky.
3. Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar – Covington
When it comes to craft cocktails featuring bourbon, there’s no better place on this list. One of Molly Wellmann’s bars, there’s a certain distinction that comes to mind when we think about this spot compared to others: artistry. Where other places will provide loud, live entertainment, OKBB provides an experience like no other when it comes to allowing you to take in their cocktails and bourbons for all that they’re worth. With well over 100 types of bourbon and a staff that’s knowledge is second to none, we recommend coming in on a weeknight to sit around and learn a bit about the bourbon and cocktails you’re drinking.
What to Order: Anything you’re wanting to learn a bit about. We suggest a flight.
4. Bourbon on Main – Frankfort
It just wouldn’t make sense if there weren’t a solid bourbon bar within the confines of Kentucky’s state capitol. Everyone from state politicians to the average folks of the city can be found here on pretty much any night of the week. With a spot along the banks of the river and right on Main St. it’s no wonder that this has become a staple for the city as a whole. It’s not just about showcasing bourbon here, though, as they often have local art and products from around the state. When it comes to state pride topped off with bourbon, no one does it better.
What to Order: Ask about what’s new in their selection. They’re always featuring a unique, new type of bourbon.
5. Parlay Social – Lexington
Live music with a prohibition theme? Yes please. Featuring live music pretty much every night of the week and a solid selection of bourbon, this bar is perfect for anyone looking for some entertainment while sipping on a few craft cocktails. This is one of those places that goes the extra mile to set the scene, complete with art deco furnishings and music that makes one feel like they really have taken a step back in time. Kudos to you, Parlay Social.
What to Order: Start with the Old Fashioned and go from there!
6. Newberry Bros. Coffee & The Prohibition Bar – Newport
When it comes to originality on this list, there’s no place quite like Newberry Bros. Complete with a coffee house using all fair-trade, organic coffee and a dog-friendly patio, there’s a lot to love about a place like this. With over 1,000 types of bourbons and rye whiskeys to choose from, they have the largest selection that we’ve ever seen when it comes to those two types of liquor. They’ve created a bourbon cafe if you will, and the results are nothing short of fantastic.
What to Order: Flights on flights. There’s too much to try and so little time. Unless you keep going back like we do…
7. Doc Crow’s Southern Smokehouse & Raw Bar – Louisville
BBQ and bourbon… is there anything better? The people at Doc Crow’s sure don’t believe so, and that’s why they’ve created a food and cocktail menu that matches perfectly. It doesn’t stop at just bourbon and BBQ, though. There’s a lot more to it than that. There’s an upscale dining experience that happens here that sets it apart from all the other places on this list. It’s not just about making the food and drinks, it’s about providing an experience, and they’ve perfected the art of combining American cuisine with American spirits.
What to Order: The Pulled Pork Sandwich paired with the Lady Geisha Cocktail. Every time.
8. Paulie’s Toasted Barrel – Lexington
When game day comes along, there’s no better place to pair UK basketball with bourbon. Then again, the party doesn’t stop once the season ends, and this place has a party-like atmosphere on every weekend of the year. When the drinks get to flowing, so do the good times. With 101 different bourbons offered up, there are choices aplenty, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Whether you’re looking for a place to catch the game or sip on a few bourbons on the rocks with a few close friends, this is the spot for you.
What to Order: Bourbon of the bartender’s choosing. Straight up.
9. Bourbon & Broad – Newport
It’s hard to believe that Bourbon & Broad hasn’t even been open for five years when you look at the crowd on a weekend night. The only true “honkey tonk” in Northern Kentucky, this spot offers a little bit of everything from Cajun food to an ever-growing selection of bourbon to wet your whistle, plus the live country music never fails to disappoint. If you’re wondering where the country party is every night in the NKY, you’ve found it.
What to Order: 1792 on the rocks. Because, you know, it’s Kentucky.
Where else do you like to get your bourbon fix? Feel free to share in the comments below!