The Best Unique Bars in Louisville

Are you on the lookout for the most poppin’ Unique Bars in Louisville?

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On this page, you’ll find the official shortlist of the best Unique Bars in Louisville. (More in-depth further below)

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If there’s one thing Louisvillians know, it’s how to drink! Louisville‘s bars stay open later, and our whiskey just tastes better. Bourbon runs through the city as freely as the Ohio River, and in a similar tint depending on the day. But don’t limit yourself to Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey and Mint Juleps; we have all the spirits covered. Alcohol-free? You’re in luck since most Louisville bars offer non-alcoholic and mocktail alternatives! In certain establishments, you may even request a Kentucky 74 substitution. Because it’s a non-alcoholic distilled bourbon, you’ll never miss out on an Old Fashioned. We have compiled our list for the best unique bars in Louisville. 

Hell or High Water

Part upscale nightclub, part library, You want something one-of-a-kind? This establishment may have a monopoly on the market. Sure, it boasts some of the best cocktails in town and some terrific bar foods, wines, and beers, but the main lure is the experience. When entering the speakeasy-style club, the first stop is a bizarre mini-gallery called Hello Curio, which leads to a bar room that seems like an escape into a Golden Age movie set, complete with deep mahogany and red velvet seats. This area then expands into a two-level antique book library with a mezzanine. Trust us and investigate. Hell or High Water is a real speakeasy with comfy crimson banquettes and gloomy lighting. Drinks from the “High Water” area of their menu are light and refreshing, while cocktails from the “Hell” section are more spirit-forward. 

Located at an unknown address under a drab room and behind a blank door, you’ll question if you’re in the proper location as you weave down Hell or High Water’s dark underground corridor until you arrive. Hell or High Water is decorated in dark red velvet and brick, and it has a lounge, a library, and numerous secret chambers. It seems like you’ve traveled back to somewhere absolutely exquisite and cool. The environment is cozy, and the beverages are delicious. We strongly advise you to make a reservation in advance and request to be seated in the Wardrobe Room. As much as I would want to say that this curiously stunning cocktail bar, Hell or High Water, is a well-kept secret exclusively for those deserving of being in the know, the fact is that the cats are out of the bag on this one. 

Reservations are essential; you should make them as far in advance as possible since this posh pub fills up quickly. This dark speakeasy cocktail bar may appear too hoity-toity for you at first. But after you get through the crowded reservations, the inconspicuous equine memorabilia waiting area, the noire library lounge, and the sumptuous tufted red velvet chairs get comfy and pick your menu. If daring, get the Bottom of the Barrel from the Hell menu. It starts with mezcal and then adds Irish whisky, Cynar 70, Velvet Falernum, and Mole Bitters. Definitely for the bravest of drinkers. Are you not feeling very daring? Check out the Highwater menu and order the Savoy Spritz, which includes effervescent champagne, St. Germaine, honey, grapefruit, and Contratto bitters. 

Zanzabar

Zanzabar is a circa-1938 tavern with a wide beer list, Southern-style pub grub, vintage arcade games & live bands. There will be games, music, and refreshments in a historical setting. Zanzabar, affectionately known as Z-bar by locals, has been operating since 1938, with a few glitches here and there. But remember that every time you take a shot, you’re helping to preserve a piece of Louisville history. It boasts a classic arcade in the front, but on weekends, most people walk straight by and out into the heated terrace with free Wi-Fi or across to the neighboring concert hall to get hot on the dance floor. Z-bar has a regular assortment of beers and mixed beverages but an above-average selection of cuisine on their menu. In addition, traveling musicians perform in the adjacent arena. 

Zanzabar is home to Louisville’s only vintage arcade and notably wild weekend evenings. During the week, Zanzabar organizes a weekly pinball tournament and transforms into a Southern neighborhood bar. Zanzabar opened its doors in 1938 and has been serving it since. Check out the heated terrace for a leisurely, straightforward evening or a raucous weekend night out. Zanzabar is an ideal setting for first-rate food. Zanzabar has a national reputation as one of Louisville’s early neighborhood treasures and one of the city’s most recent casual food and live entertainment venues. It solely serves old arcade games and organizes weekly pinball competitions in Louisville. Sunday trivia evenings are exhilaratingly exciting. 

So, Zbar also serves as an award-winning, intimate live-music venue for local and widespread national and international touring performers, who grace the stage many times a week. They are ideal for a first-rate restaurant, a spacious heated terrace, and Wi-Fi inside and out. Only great things persist for a reason, and they are live proof of how it’s done—cool bar with delicious cuisine. Everything we ordered was delicious. I ordered the loaded tots, the greatest I’d ever tasted. It is very garlicky and generous in serving. Topping it off, the death star cookie is a must-try! Call ahead and secure a table for large parties since this arcade and music venue changes its stage into a massive screen on major game days. We recommend eating Glitter Totchos and playing Pinball in their arcade. So, this is one of the best and most fun bars Louisville has to offer! If you are in the city, we recommend visiting this bar!

Galaxie

Live music meets delicious margaritas. Galaxie nails the upmarket dive bar vibe; you’re here for cheap drinks in a luxurious setting. Their informal, come-as-you-are clientele sips glass after glass of the bar’s legendary fiery margaritas in carefully controlled dark lighting. In the summer, the fun changes scene onto a few tables that line their sidewalk. On Thursday and Saturday nights, dancing is encouraged. Not into margaritas? Choose the “Breakfast of Champions” special, which includes a can of beer and a shot of whiskey (the selection changes daily). Fans of tacos and artisan cocktails will like Galaxie Bar, located just down the street from Garage Bar in NuLu. Outer Space, a secret patio area inside Galaxie, is available for dancing on weekends and hosts plenty of fantastic events. 

Every Wednesday, they even offer Trivia Night, so bring your know-it-all friends (as you would expect, we’re a lot of people’s know-it-all Trivia Night pals). Galaxie may not appear to be your standard neighborhood tavern. This bar looks stylish and party-worthy thanks to the skillfully exposed light bulb installation and the brightness of the blue and pink neon light. However, for the NuLu neighborhood, it is an ideal spot to unwind after work or with friends. And drink specials like the Breakfast of Champions, which includes a can of beer and a shot of whiskey for $5, remind me why this is a place I like to visit when I’m in the area, especially on a nice day when you can relax on the Outer Space patio in the rear. The atmosphere is open and cheerful, with many guest DJs and live music on weekends. 

Whatever you do, ensure you get a Galaxie Margarita – ideally the spicy marg! These are hands down the greatest margaritas in town, and I adore the unique curly bendy straw that comes with it – it’s both tasty and entertaining. Margaritas aren’t complete without tacos! I adore Wakatakas. They are flatbread tacos with various fillings, but my favorite is the Chipotle Chicken with arugula, pico de gallo, and cilantro aioli. Galaxie is a relaxed pub and restaurant that serves globally influenced “street food.” Stop by with Fido in tow and enjoy a Sugar Skull (Espolon tequila, grapefruit, lime, hibiscus, sprinkle of salt) and an order of the Across the Universe – a Galaxie bread plate loaded with hummus, spinach saag, roasted tomato harissa, whipped feta, and coconut curry dips.

Conclusion

There’s no shortage of things to do in Louisville after dinner, especially with the city’s famed Whiskey Row and busy theater area. The bourbon business pulsates throughout downtown Louisville, with hip bars and speakeasies reminiscent of the Roaring Twenties. When you visit the city, you’ll be greeted by rows of magnificent Revivalist-style buildings and businesses, which you can even enjoy with a party on a customized bike. Whether you’re looking for whiskey, artisan brews, vintage games, Broadway musicals, comedy, or history, here are some suggestions for places to go at night in Louisville.

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