Bar Belle column

The Bar Belle returns to Louisville media

Bar Belle column

Don’t call it a comeback.

Unless you follow this here website, The Bar Belle column has been missing in the Louisville media landscape since Insider Louisville shut down in August 2019 — and if we’re talking print journalism, it’s been since my LEO days, which came to an end in August 2014. (What’s with the month of August?)

I’m happy to announce I am returning to local media, and you can now find my column in each issue of Food & Dining magazine, which you can get online and at various locations around town. And it’s free!

In this first piece, I include a roundup of some of my favorite new bars, plus the old-schoolers that have stood the test of time. Since this issue will be on the stands during Derby, I wanted to help point people in the right direction when it comes to my favorite things — cheap drinks, crafty cocktails and unpretentious watering holes.

In upcoming issues, I plan to continue my deep dive into neighborhood bars all around the city — from Shively to St. Matthews and every nook and cranny in between!

Cheers! It feels good to be back in the saddle!

Bar Belle takes bronze-bronze in Best Blog category!

Woot!

I’m honored to receive the bronze-bronze medal for Best Blog in the LEO Weekly Readers’ Choice Awards. Not only did I come in third place, but I came in third in a tie for third. Bronze squared?

I’d like to thank everyone who has ever bought me a beer, and that one dude who bought me a shot of Birthday Bourbon once. I’ll never forget that dude — what was his name?

And I haven’t disappeared or ran off to an Irish pub. Going from journalism to marketing makes me feel like I’m a Walmart greeter working for NASA.

So I’ve just been busy learning the ins and outs of SEO, DIVI, WPBakery, hashtags and #yourmom.

I’ve got lots of Tasteless Tastings to get to — bourbon is literally piling up on my home office bar. Plus lots of other new bars to mention, and I might even have some news about the future of Bar Belle. Hint: It’s good!

So in the meantime, just comment here on your favorite White Claw flavor and why.

And again, thanks for voting for me! Maybe next time I’ll get some upper-case action.

Now thank you for shopping at Walmart.

Back Door

Bar Belle: 20 years ago, I walked into The Back Door …

Back Door

Props to The Back Door. Who’s that blonde?

This was originally published at Insider Louisville on Aug. 2, 2019.

It’s been nearly 20 years to the day that a girl walked into a bar and her life was forever changed.

That bar was Highlands’ haunt The Back Door, and that girl was a young, new-to-Louisville Buckeye who had just landed a job at LEO Weekly and was invited by friendly coworkers to a longstanding Thursday night happy hour. Ever since that fateful evening in August of 1999, I’ve only missed a handful of Thursday happy hours at the Unstable Table, and my Louisville family has grown tremendously.

Transitioning from a very social college scene on a small campus in Athens, Ohio, to a rather large Kentucky city that I wasn’t even sure how to pronounce, that first year as a Louisville resident was tough, awkward, frustrating and eye-opening. Many folks told me I’d enjoy living by Bardstown Road, so my first apartment was in a high-rise in Buechel — which I thought was still part of the Highlands. Fun fact: It is not.

But even though my social calendar was nonexistent, I could always count on happy hour at The Back Door, with folks of all ages — 21 and up, of course — who eventually became friends and helped introduce me to Louisville, showed me the ropes, told me about the time-saving alleyways to avoid Bardstown Road and taught me the art of a stiff drink.

We always sit at our same table in the main bar room, which John Brown gets there at 4 to snag. Sometimes there are four of us, and sometimes we need to push a few tables together to accommodate 14. You just never know until you show up.

Through jobs, significant others, deaths, drama and the perpetual grind that is aging, my Back Door family has remained a constant — a place free of judgment, a place to unwind, share opinions on the day’s news or avoid it altogether.

The Back Door was where I first met Mayor Greg Fischer — before he officially was mayor. Somehow Unstable Table regular Cindy Lamb convinced all the candidates running for mayor to stop by our esteemed Thursday congregation and discuss their qualifications.

I recall Fischer’s ease in sitting down with a group of strangers and even reaching for a chicken wing or two that we had ordered.

The Back Door taught me about moderation and finding a delicate balance between comfortably unwinding (one gin & tonic) and crazy town crunk (two or more gin & tonics). Now that I’m older and wiser, I’ll treat myself to one mixed drink and then quickly switch to beer so I don’t stumble into work Friday morning like a sunglass-clad zombie who inhales water instead of brains.

But most of all, the bar has given me friendship, and whether that road is a long one or ultimately cut short (R.I.P. SueBee), it’ll always lead me straight to The Back Door on a Thursday night.

The Unstable Table is open to anyone who buys the first round. We won’t bite unless provoked.

See you on Thursday.

Today’s Reason To Drink

The barrels dreams are made of.

It’s been quite a balancing act trying to post here while also maintaining my three other jobs. Wait, three?

Yes, you know about Insider Louisville, of course, and my bourbon tour guide gig with Bourbon City Cruisers (speaking of which … I’m waiting for you to book a tour with me, dammit!).

So what else am I up to? Well, I’m going to keep that private so that you can assume the worst — but if you really want to know, you can buy me a beer or two and I’ll fill you in.

Anyway, the purpose here is to throw at you some recent articles I’ve written that are about bourbon and just let you digest them, if you haven’t already swallowed. I have no idea what I’m talking about, so let’s just get to them …

A sneak peek of the new Bulleit Visitor Experience — Bulleit in Shelbyville is now offering public tours, thanks to to the new, fancy Visitor’s Center they just built.

7 Questions With … Caleb Kilburn, master distiller of Peerless Distilling — Last Saturday, Peerless just released its first four-year-old bourbon in 102 years. Now that’s a reason to celebrate!

• Bar Belle: Bucket List crushed by a barrel of Weller — I was invited by the fine folks at Merle’s Whiskey Kitchen to help them select a single barrel of Weller Antique 107. It was a dream come true!

So there you have it … that’s what I’ve been busy with. I’m also stockpiling some new release samples so I can have another Tasteless Tastings very soon.

Stay tuned.

Bar Belle from 1/25/19 Insider Louisville: When Dry January gets damp

We’re more than halfway through January, and I’ve already heard from numerous people around town that they’ve given up on their diets. And even more surprising — or not — this “Dry January” nonsense is loosening its grip on health-conscience Louisvillians.

How do I know? Because my bars are more crowded than ever. I kinda enjoyed the extra elbow room I had these last few weeks, but just as gym attendance soars on Jan. 2 and wanes by Feb. 2, so, too, self-discipline erodes like a snowman in the rain.

Read more here …