Haymarket Whiskey Bar, courtesy Maggie Kimberl

Haymarket Whiskey Bar, courtesy Maggie Kimberl

If you’re planning to travel to Louisville to celebrate the Kentucky Derby Festival you’ll need to know where to go for the best drinks. These bars have knowledgeable staff who live the bourbon lifestyle and can make great classic bourbon cocktails. Each bar on this list will be able to make a solid Old Fashioned or Manhattan, and many will be able to make fabulous specialty cocktails. These are the places where you can drink like a local.

  1. Haymarket Whiskey Bar

While Haymarket is not a cocktail bar, they have a solid list of classic cocktails. They are well known for their extensive whiskey list, which includes many private barrel selections such as Four Roses Single Barrel. This is basically a dive bar with a high-end bourbon list!

  1. Bourbons Bistro, courtesy Maggie Kimberl

    Bourbons Bistro, courtesy Maggie Kimberl

    Down One Bourbon Bar

General Manager Beth Burrows is a multiple award-winning mixologist whose bourbon knowledge has skyrocketed this bar to fame. She recently picked one of the first Maker’s Mark 46 Single Barrels for Down One, which will be available just in time for Derby.

  1. Bourbons Bistro

This is Louisville’s original bourbon-themed bar and restaurant. Owner Jason Brauner is a founding member of the Bourbon Society of Louisville, so you could say he really knows his bourbon. This is the place to find rare and hard to find bourbons.

  1. The Silver Dollar

If you’re looking for great food and a honky-tonk atmosphere, this is the place to be. The bourbon list boasts private barrel selections of Eagle Rare, Weller Antique, Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit, JTS Brown Bottled in Bond, and many others. I highly recommend their Kentucky Mule.

  1. Match Cigar Bar, courtesy Linda Doane

    Match Cigar Bar, courtesy Linda Doane

    Match Cigar Bar

This is the only place in town where an award-winning mixologist can serve you an Old Forester Signature Old Fashioned while you sit in a comfy club chair and smoke a private selection Herrera Esteli by Drew Estate.

  1. Proof on Main

Bartender Damien Cooke has won multiple awards, including the Four Roses Rose Julep Competition and Best Classic Pairing at The Bourbon Classic. Be sure to try his winning Mint Julep cocktail! The bourbon menu alone is 3 pages long and features private barrel selections from Buffalo Trace.

  1. The Silver Dollar, courtesy Maggie Kimberl

    The Silver Dollar, courtesy Maggie Kimberl

    Doc Crowe’s

Billed as a “Southern Smokehouse and Raw Bar,” the whiskey menu is voluminous and includes not only well over 100 bourbons, but also dozens of other Scotch, Irish, Canadian, Rye, and other American whiskeys. Bourbon cocktails include the Kentucky Colonel and the Near Eastern Julep.

  1. The Village Anchor

Featuring a speakeasy-style bourbon bar with walkout cigar-friendly patio downstairs, the cocktail menu includes such favorites as the Brown Sugar Old Fashioned and the Bloody Bourbon.

  1. The Village Anchor, courtesy Maggie Kimberl

    The Village Anchor, courtesy Maggie Kimberl

    8Up Elevated Drinkery and Kitchen

The bourbon menu boasts a private barrel selection of Angel’s Envy, many limited edition bourbons such as Jim Beam Distiller’s Masterpiece, and an unparalleled cocktail menu prepared by a multiple award-winning bar staff.

  1. Lily’s

This farm-to-table Kentucky Bistro has been a Louisville institution for over a quarter of a century. The extensive bourbon menu includes tasting notes, and the happy hour menu includes a top shelf Old Fashioned.