Barkeep’s Choices

It’s that time of year again, when local businesses, entrepreneurs, community members and the like vie for the coveted win of various categories of LEO’s Readers’ Choice Awards. It’s true that accolades, press and shiny plaques will boost business, and who doesn’t love a little public recognition for their hard work from time to time? You’ve got at least another month until the polls close, but I know you’re already perusing the categories wondering who’s worthy of your vote. Don’t fret, I’ve got my picks for some of the top beverage and nightlife categories, so next time you’re scrolling, you can reference this article when you think, “WWBC?” What Would the Barkeep Choose?

Best Boozy Brunch is one of my favorite categories. There is no denying, I am a white girl who loves brunch. This year, the Le Moo Drag Brunch takes the (pan)cake for me, as I’ve been twice (to both Beyoncé- and Britney Spears-themed brunches) and have yet to be disappointed. Produced by the same folks at Hard Candy, a production company that brings LBGTQ entertainment to Louisville and surrounding cities, the drag brunches at Le Moo are $35 per person and include a decadent brunch buffet and themed drag performances that’ll have you throwing dollars at queens before you get your mimosa. Speaking of mimosas, the booze is flowing at Le Moo drag brunch, with $5 mimosas and a full bar. Even with the plethora of screaming patrons and queens sashaying through adoring fans, the service is always quick, pleasant, and typically costume-clad. Just make sure your crew is always ready to pay on one check — which I fully support. We all have Venmo, y’all.

For Best Neighborhood Bar/Pub, my vote goes to the MerryWeather. Formerly Lydia House, the neighborhood joint rebranded into a Schnitzelburg gem with a greater focus on “cheap beer and cocktails.” At any given day, one can meander into the MerryWeather and grab a game of pinball, trivia, stumble upon some stand-up comedy or work your way through its adorably illustrated cocktail punch card. The PB&J shot has changed my life, and with $3 White Claws on Mondays and Jeppson’s Malört Liquer on tap, the MerryWeather marries beverage trends with dive bar grit: 10/10, would recommend.

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Full disclosure, I’ve got personal ties to this next winner in my book, as I’ve bartended events here for years. However, I wouldn’t throw my weight behind this vote if I didn’t truly believe in this venue. For the Best Place for an Event/Party, I suggest the Bluegrass Brewing Co.’s Bourbon Barrel Loft on Third and Main streets. It has a swanky, urban loft feel complete with white leather coaches, lengthy, house-made barnwood tables and a crazy talented in-house florist (with flowers always included in your room rental fee). As one of the most underrated venues in the city, it’s incredibly affordable, stunning (hello, Instagram) and always top quality when it comes to eats and libations.

Folks, please patronize Air Devil’s Inn. It gets my vote for Best Dive Bar, obviously, and I cannot express how much I love this place. Earlier this year, Air Devil’s ran into some financial trouble when some asshole decided to break the toilet seat in the women’s restroom and then flush the pieces down. Naturally, this created a plumbing catastrophe that led the owners to express that the bar needed the community’s help to stay afloat. ADI lovers rallied and put on two benefits for the bar, and based on my visit with friends last week, it seems to be flourishing again. With a service industry “happy hour” that seems to last from Sunday through Thursday (I can’t say that I understand, but I will not argue), live music constantly, including open mic nights and a motivated staff, ADI should not be overlooked when it comes to your vote, or when you want an old school, affordable and dive-y good time.

There are so many more gems in Louisville to support, so support the locals you love and spread the word. You never know whose business could boom from the right kind of chatter. Cheers!

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