The Bar Belle: New bars, familiar spots

When I asked Santa last month for more bars in more places, he met me halfway. He delivered three new bars to town, but they merely fill in for defunct establishments. Say goodbye to Jimmy’s On The River, Willy’s and Mac’s Point. And give a grand ol’ River City welcome to The Menu On The River (100 W. Riverside Drive, Jeffersonville), Dublin’s Cellar (942 Baxter Ave.) and Big Al’s Beeritaville (1715 Mellwood Ave.). Here are some initial observations (to look at photos, go to  

When Jimmy’s closed last month, I knew it wouldn’t take long for another business to snatch up that ideal Jeffersonville location. Jimmy’s had one of the best views of Louisville and was known for cheap happy hour specials and decent pub grub. The Menu in New Albany quickly relocated its bar business, and last Friday’s grand opening was quite the party. Two bands rocked a crowded house, and beer specials were aplenty. What’s good: An upstairs paint job is nice. What needs work: Take that plastic off the balcony! You’re covering up a glorious Louisville money shot!

I guess the new owners at Willy’s decided that if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. So they bet on the luck of the Irish and changed the bar’s name to Dublin’s Cellar, making it the fourth Irish pub on Baxter Avenue. Gone are the frozen daiquiri machines, rock tables and crawling reptiles underneath the bar. A new red oak bar and more comfortable booth seating now fill the brick interior. Staying is the popcorn machine (thank goodness), 68 beers on tap and Willy, the lizard underneath the dance floor who now watches over, I can only assume, a pot of gold. What’s good: The menu is sprinkled with Irish fare like Shepherd’s Pie. What needs work: Happy hour specials to get people in before 10 p.m. And no covers until you get a staple of regulars.

Perhaps the most dramatic bar makeover is at Big Al’s Beeritaville, where the new owners poured in time and money to convert an old beer-dive into a fun, relaxing atmosphere — it’s like you’re hanging in a friend’s basement. Daily specials include a bucket of five Coronas for $11! What’s good: Great hot wings and convenient hooks underneath the bar for your purse. What needs work: There’s one unisex bathroom, but the men’s restroom, I hear, is almost complete.

I’m broke. So tell me about drinking for cheap at [email protected]