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.
If the Jockey Silks Bourbon Bar (140 N. Fourth St.), on the second floor of the Galt House’s Rivue Tower, looks like the kind of place where John Wayne would have been comfortable downing tequila, well, that’s because John Wayne did drink tequila here in the 1970s, when he was the grand marshal of the Pegasus Parade. Back then the place was called the English Tavern, but about five years ago the name became Jockey Silks. Though there’s a full bar, a glass case up front displays up to 156 bourbons, which means you can figure out what you should be drinking here. “When push comes to shove,” says bartender Patty Word, “we take one out of the case so we can serve it.” One of Word’s favorite stories, she tells you, was when Brooks & Dunn were playing the baby grand piano and decided to take the party to another hotel piano after the Jockey Silks closed for the evening.
Inside, the carpet is a shade of green, the wood a dark oak with flourishes carved into its surface. It’s almost as if you can still smell the smoke that once swirled from the tips of cigars. Some of the intimate, two-person booths are probably better described as cubbies. At the sunken bar in back, a bartender pulls out all 150 bourbons each night.
This is the type of place where you can actually hear yourself think, maybe even smooth down the day’s imperfections — with a tumbler of bourbon in hand, of course.
Photo: Courtesy Jockey Silks Bourbon Bar