Bar Belle: It’s a Wonderful Derby

What if Derby never existed? What would you do with those two minutes?

As do most of you residing in this here river city, I live for Derby. It gives me an excuse to go crazy, make bad decisions and spend way too much money. Going to the gym is last on my list, as are household chores, proper hygiene and etiquette, grocery shopping, calling Mom, keeping up with the DVR, and going to work (only kidding, Boss). Chugging lukewarm swill at the Chow Wagon replaces happy hour at the Back Door, and hipster counting is trumped by celebrity sightings. Louisville has been on a high since March Madness, and Derby is just another shot of speed. But what if Derby never happened? What if all we were known for was Muhammad Ali and the place where Donnie Wahlberg almost burned down a hotel?

The first Saturday in May would be just another day. How would you fill up those fastest two minutes in sports? And what if they really weren’t very fast? What if you were at the dentist or getting a pap smear? If the Derby didn’t exist, we would have no reason to buy horseshoe-patterned purses or stand out front of the Doublemint twins’ house. Thousands of hat makers would be out of business, forced to make dresses of glitter for Ke$ha or ironic T-shirts for Taylor Swift. Travis Tritt and Kid Rock would have no reason to mingle, and soap stars and reality TV divas would have to keep begging Us Weekly for press.

The Belle of Louisville would be host to just another dinner cruise — no racing or completing obstacles for that old bird. There would be no Thunder, no reason to venture into Phoenix Hill Tavern, and no excuse for making out in a public bathroom with a frat boy dressed as Uncle Sam. Cinco de Mayo and Waterfront Wednesday would be the only highlights of May. And bitching about allergies isn’t nearly as fun as bitching about tourists and not getting reservations at Porcini.

It would indeed be a sad, sad time in the city if we didn’t have Derby. Even though I might get myself into trouble and spend too much money, I wouldn’t trade it for any other festival in the world — not even Oktoberfest in Germany or Mardi Gras in New Orleans. For one day, we shine in the country’s spotlight. The labels of “redneck,” “red state” and “Rand Paul supporters” are replaced with “Southern charm,” “quaint river city,” “serious horse enthusiasts” and “professional bourbon drinkers.” Much like a Vegas stripper, we welcome visitors with open arms and a naughty nurse outfit, hoping they stuff Louisville’s lingerie with dollar bills — and leave with a smile. Was it good for you?

Bar of the Week
This week’s Bar of the Week isn’t actually a bar — it’s an East End “healthy” grocery store — and no, I haven’t lost my marbles, and this is not my mom hijacking my column again. Every Friday evening (5:30-7:30 p.m.), Whole Foods in St. Matthews offers “Friday Night Flights” for $5, which pairs five delicious appetizers with samples of craft beers each “station chef” deems appropriate. Roll your eyes all you want, but I stopped in last Friday and had a fun time traipsing through the aisles, sipping on beer and marveling at the store’s huge cheese section.

This particular evening’s fare included corndogs paired with Southern Tier Live; caramel corn with Magic Hat Pistil; cod tacos with Schlafly American IPA; bacon and Benedictine pinwheels with Samuel Smith Pale; and pineapple upside down cake with a Bell’s Oberon. And if you manage to hang onto your little punch card, you get a free wine tasting as a bonus! Lucky for me, I went with some friends who don’t care much for beer (I use the term “friends” loosely) (only kidding), so after they tried their sample and made a face, I got to enjoy the rest. I left with a happy buzz, ready to take on the night.

Drunk Texts of the Week
• Fuck Hitchcock
• Wanna meet for some liver lube?
• Blue balls for girls = BlueTube
• That’s some full frontal badonkadonk!
• If Im not wearing a shirt, then I can’t claim it’s up my sleeve … right?

Send your drunk texts to [email protected]. My blog is at Word.