American poet A. R. Ammons once wrote, “It is not careless to become too local when there are four billion stars in our galaxy alone.” In all our endeavors, we must learn, live and breathe the immediate landscape encircling us — a sentiment many Louisvillians hold dear (especially in NuLu) is keeping our fair city unabashedly local. East Market Street is called home by a collision of minds that possess loyalty to local art, food and history, paired with an insatiable thirst for the new, and it seems as though Rye partners Doug Petry and Thor Morgan have birthed a concept NuLu was clearly yearning for: a more affordable option on Market Street — a neighborhood bar, a church for industry folk and the like … a Galaxie not so far away.
I must admit, I’ve swooned, much like the rest of our town, over the past inhabitants of 732 E. Market St. Both 732 Social and La Coop: Bistro a Vins were stylish frontrunners of their times in the Louisville food and drink realm. That being so, penetrating the doors of newly opened Galaxie brought about a whole new flutter in my heart. Galaxie boasts minimalist décor, clean colors and a few quirky accents like maneki-neko — or “lucky cat” — figurines as food order numbers and cacti succulents capping the ends of thoughtful bar shelves. My friends and I, all fresh off a tiresome shift at our bar, were greeted by handsome barkeep, Tristan, who coolly welcomed our antics and remembered what I drank when I popped in again a few days later. Is there anything better in the world than a salt and pepper-haired bartender that remembers your drink? Nope. Well, not until you’ve had the Galaxie bread, at least.
From the small but interesting cocktail list, I enjoyed the El Segundo (rye, cynar, cardamaro and angostura bitters, $7) and the Rosy Crucifixion (gin, honey, rosemary and lemon, $7). And while the El Segundo (Galaxie’s version of an Old Fashioned) was mildly sweet for me, I’d order a pitcher of the refreshing and herbaceous Rosy for myself if they’d let me. And, let’s be honest, there is no place in NuLu that serves a craft cocktail for under $10. My friend James enjoyed other selections from the list including the Storm Trooper (rum, lime, allspice and ginger beer, $7) and The Repeater (mescal, ancho reyes, grapefruit and lime, $9) of which he said were both “a nice balance of flavor and booze.” Amongst the selection of canned and bottled beers and wines, Galaxie also pushes their signature margarita (also $7 and available spicy), and the stellar “Breakfast of Champions,” which is a beer and a shot of whiskey. Good on you, Galaxie, that’s my kind of breakfast — they do open at 11 a.m., after all.
Galaxie is reminiscent of the cool gems you may stumble upon in an alleyway in Brooklyn — a neighborhood bar that reflects its neighborhood. It’s NuLu after all, so without doubt, Galaxie is no dive bar. It’s clean and well-crafted, yet created for all demographics and pocketbooks with its walk-up-and-order street food and neon lights. “We want to keep things as simple as possible, but we don’t skimp on quality or transparency,” says Tristan, who goes on to say that they juice all their mixers daily and build their drinks on the bar top, in front of the guest.
While the night crowds, particularly Trolley Hop nights, have been prosperous, Tristan tells us the lunch rush hasn’t hit quite yet, which is mind-boggling to me, considering the food is fast and stellar (think Mediterranean meets Middle Eastern street food) with the most expensive item at a mere $12. Galaxie feels like the perfect place to day drink: Start with a craft cocktail and a Jazzmatazz on your next day off, and you’ll end up stumbling down Market Street with a piece of pallet art from Revelry and a belly full of something called Across the Universe, feeling damn near out of this world. Whether you’re a nine-to-fiver in search of a timely, quality meal on your lunch break, or an industry folk ready for a taco after you’ve slung brews for ten hours, I have no doubt you’ll develop a crush on Galaxie at your first sip.