We all have that one friend. The friend that’s not going to judge us, no matter how asinine our bar behavior is, no matter how embarrassing a hook up, no matter how many times you’ve tipped up a bottle of chardonnay while crying over an episode of Gilmore Girls (these are all hypothetical examples, of course). Sometimes, you need to take that friend out for drinks and repay her for that one frightful night in January when she thought you were dying, but you’d really just drunk a bottle of Fireball. And, what better time than when the humidity is really in town and so are the art fairs, music festivals and strategically hung canopy lights atop bar patios?
That one friend is my darling pup, who I adore gallivanting around town and hopping from festival to bar with. However, much to my dismay, many a Louisville activity has opted for a “no pets” policy these days — particularly Memorial Day weekend, when I was trying to drink some brews in the sunshine with my four-legged kiddo, only to be turned down by Boomtown Ball in New Albany, the Seven Sense Fest in St. Joseph’s neighborhood, Reggae Fest and more. Where, you ask, can you enjoy a pint with pup? I’ve cultivated a list of my favorite dog-friendly patios that welcome the whole family, so that you, too, can enjoy drinks alongside Fido and thank her for the only mild look of disapproval when you order a fourth bourbon.
Garage Bar, perhaps the greatest no-brainer for a stellar al fresco setup, boasts seat-yourself picnic tables, served seating under the covered “garage,” air hockey tables and the vintage bones of an old service station. Garage Bar is so pet friendly, they even play host to a “Yappy Hour” on the last Sunday of each month throughout Summer and Fall, where treats and an outdoor bar abound, and often local animal rescue organizations set up with adoptable cuties. Stick a fork in me: There are basil gimlets and Great Danes posing on Astroturf pyramids.
Vines and Canines, located in Douglass Loop (1985 Douglass Blvd.), has a concept that intertwines booze and dogs. Owner Marc Demichele says, “There are only two necessities in life: a good dog and a great bottle of wine.” A wine and bourbon market with a soon-to-launch Euro-wine nook outside, your pooch is invited to peruse with you an eclectic selection and socialize at their daily wine tastings. Marc and his team promote local animal adoptions and frequently host events for rescue groups, and if you get lucky, you can make a night of it with Great Flood Brewing Company just around the corner, which often has a food truck parked out front. Score!
The no-frills Germantown neighborhood watering hole, Nach Bar, can easily be confused with a dog park with beer taps, as there are commonly many dogs meandering around the bar greeting strangers off leash. Nach Bar was, up until recently, home to an awesome “gives no fucks” black cat named Magic (may he rest in peace as the mayor of Charles Street), and you still may find some cat hair in your beer from time to time. And, really, if a little cat hair bothers you, you don’t belong in Germantown anyway.
Apocalypse Brew Works, which straddles Clifton and Butchertown, albeit only open weekends, is highly dog friendly and actually sells dog treats made in house from brewer’s yeast. Upon entering their Memorial Day cookout, my boyfriend, our dogs and myself were greeted by owner Bill Krauth, who encouraged us to bring them inside (which they call the “fallout shelter”), where about five bar stools and the beer taps reside. And if you’re lucky like we were, Apocalypse will be playing host to the new V-Grits food truck in their parking lot, so you can enjoy some loaded BBQ mac-n-cheese with your Apollo IPA.
Make no mistake — I am well aware there are limitations, health codes, city permits, etc., when it comes to allowing our pup friends to enter a business or festival. I’m simply paying homage to those that have gone the extra mile to make sure Fido can partake in the fun (and be my designated driver at the end of the night, duh). I think it can be as simple as throwing an extra table or two out front, like Hilltop Tavern or Flanagan’s Ale House did. It’s no secret, like in many cases, that when it comes to allowing pets at certain events, one bad apple can ruin the bunch. I get it — a large Goldendoodle dragging down an elderly woman or a steaming pile of doo on the bottom of your new Toms is certainly a buzz kill. But, c’mon Greg, we all know that the geese were really the culprit when it came to crapping all over the Big Four Bridge.