While Kentucky holds a well-earned reputation for housing a vast population of bourbon-loving drinkers, Louisville’s dive bar scene extends well beyond sipping single barrel varietals (though you can still do that at a number of the dive bars on this page). The mixture of Southern, Midwestern and wholly Kentuckian influences in the city product varied and interesting dive bar drinking options across Louisville’s many neighborhoods.
Germantown, one such neighborhood and perhaps one of the best for nightlife, houses maybe the best collection of vintage dive bar signage at The Pearl of Germantown
and Belgian beer hall-influenced institution Nachbar
and its impressive German draft beer selection well beyond the scope of typical dive bar fare.
Old Louisville and the Highlands area host two of the city’s dive bar titans in Magnolia Bar & Grill (The Mag)
and Bambi Bar
, respectively. Where The Mag has outlasted not one but two cars barreling through the front door, Bambi Bar has served as decades-long inspiration for an epic, cross-town bar crawl called the Bambi Walk.
Downtown’s Third Street Dive
masters the time-honored tradition of wordplay in dive bar names, itself a clear and stated contrast to nearby entertainment megaplex Fourth Street Live. And on the outskirts of all of it, Smyrna Inn
serves as the quintessential neighborhood, corner bar, this one in a retrofitted house complete with a grandma’s house-style basement.
The diversity seen in the dive bars featured here matches the diversity in Louisville’s intriguing patchwork of neighborhoods, all of it cause for a visit whether bourbon is your preferred beverage or a cold glass bottle High Life will do.