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    Louisville is a world-class drinking town, known far and wide for its hospitality, history, and of course, its bourbon. The journey for newcomers often begins at the city’s fantastic hotel bars, but they’re a great amenity for tourists and residents alike. We teamed up with to compile a list of the best of the best, from the artsy, ultramodern atmosphere of Proof on Main to the time-honored confines of The Brown Hotel Lobby Bar.

    8UP Elevated Drinkery & Kitchen
    Hilton Garden Inn Downtown Louisville
    350 W. Chestnut St., 502-631-4180

    To see the city in all its splendor, start at the bar with a view—8UP Drinkery & Kitchen, an indoor-outdoor restaurant and 4,000-square-foot rooftop lounge overlooking downtown. The al fresco environs provide a vision of contemporary, swanky Louisville, a perfect place to sip a twist on a classic like the New Fashion. It’s also the ideal setting to sample from the cosmopolitan bar menu, featuring 75 bourbons, while relaxing by the fire pits with a vista of the Ohio River.

    Image: 8UP Elevated Drinkery & Kitchen

    Lobby Bar
    The Brown Hotel
    335 W. Broadway, 502-209-7346

    For a taste of Louisville’s old Southern charm, look no further than the Lobby Bar in The Brown Hotel. One of the most storied stops on the Urban Bourbon Trail, the bar offers more than 70 rare whiskeys, which patrons can enjoy in the form of flights and signature cocktails. The atmosphere is stately, practically bursting with the hotel’s heritage of nearly a century. Speaking of which, don’t forget to order the quintessential Louisville dish, the Hot Brown, still on the menu after more than 90 years.

    Image: The Brown Hotel Lobby Bar

    Louisville Marriott Downtown
    280 W. Jefferson St., 502-671-4246

    If sports are more your speed, check out Champions bar before grabbing courtside seats for a U of L basketball game or during a wild Derby weekend. Inside the Marriott downtown, it’s a great place to catch tons of sports action on 32 HD TVs or the massive 172-inch HD big screens, and it’s within walking distance of the Muhammad Ali Center and Louisville Slugger Field. The Marriott also offers upscale imbibing in the form of BLU, a contemporary Italian restaurant that’s another Urban Bourbon Trail location.

    Image: Champions Sports Bar

    Proof on Main
    21c Museum Hotel
    702 W. Main St., 502-217-6360

    Voted among the top ten hotels in the world three times, 21c Museum Hotel is practically obligated to boast an exceptional bar, and Proof on Main lives up to the expectation. Like the adjoining hotel, Proof is brimming with a rotating set of art installations. Beyond the wealth of artistic talent, there’s an embarrassment of riches behind the bar—deliciously inventive cocktails, an award-winning wine list, and more than 75 bourbons (yes, Proof’s on the Trail, too), including a few bottled exclusively for the bar by Woodford Reserve and Pappy Van Winkle.

    Image: Proof on Main

    Old Seelbach Bar
    The Seelbach Hilton Louisville
    500 S. Fourth St., 502-585-3200

    The Seelbach offers the rarest of combinations—a modern luxury hotel with history that reads like fiction. Author F. Scott Fitzgerald once sipped bourbon and smoked expensive cigars here, where he was introduced to the Cincinnati bootlegger who became the inspiration for Jay Gatsby. The Old Seelbach Bar plays into this rich legacy, restored to its early 1900s glory. It’s yet another favorite along the Urban Bourbon Trail, offering an expansive selection that includes several single-barrel pours, not to mention an array of artfully crafted cocktails.

    Image: Old Seelbach Bar

    Cover Image: 8UP Elevated Drinkery & Kitchen

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