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    Chris Smith

    29, Lyft and Uber driver


    What’s your driving schedule like? 

    “My schedule is a bit different from the average driver, as I work for Amazon full-time during the week, Sunday through Wednesday, so I’ll drive Thursday through Saturday when I’m free, but also some nights after my morning Amazon shift. The beauty of ridesharing is, you literally work when you want to. I’ve had weeks I went without driving and was able to log back in no problem.”


    What are some unwritten rules of etiquette when calling for and getting a ride? 

    “Make sure your party is four or fewer if you’re requesting a normal Lyft or Uber, as we cannot and will not take more people than our cars have seatbelts for. Your extra tip for squeezing your fifth, sixth, seventh person is not worth our deactivation, citation or, most of all, the sacrifice of your safety should there be a wreck and the extra passenger flies into the windshield in a hypothetical accident. This goes for alcohol too — not allowed in our cars, so please knock the pre-gaming out before hitting ‘request.’ If you’re out at the bar, especially one at Fourth Street Live!, make sure you’re ready to go, and meet us at an accessible location, not inside of the bar. Our estimated arrival time is very precise.”


    Have you driven any particularly awesome customers? 

    “I’ve done more than a thousand rides. Most of them have been great, but the ones who can engage in conversation as if you’ve known them for years are my favorite. There are definitely chats that have bummed me out because we got to the destination and still had so much to talk about.”


    Do you remember any particularly not-awesome customers? 

    “I picked up a group from the Back Door who fist-fought between my front passenger seat and the middle seat in the back. Ended up having to drop them off about a block away from where I was supposed to drop them off. One girl complained the entire time about me not taking more than four people in my car because her other three friends had to request another ride, and right before dropping them off, she spills a whiskey and Coke in my car that I didn’t even realize she had snuck in.”


    Other drunk-passenger-behavior observations? 

    “Drunken arguments with significant others always make for an awkward time, and people trying to tell me directions which are incorrect and contradict the GPS. Once it took me about 30 minutes to wake up a guy who passed out in my back seat, but I got him up and watched him make it into his apartment. But there’s also the fun-loving, enjoyable drunks you pick up more often.”


    When you’re not working, are you a bar-goer? Where do you like to go?

    “I am actually, but I rarely drink anymore on account of driving all the time and other personal goals I’m working on, but usually you’ll find me at the Highlands Taproom for Metal Monday. I love that place. Usually I’ll walk down to see my friends at Cahoots. I also make it to the Mag Bar quite frequently — another great bar with live music.”


    Are there any bars/restaurants/amenities that you wish Louisville had? 

    “Kuma’s Corner from Chicago, a metal-themed burger restaurant. And it would be great to see TRVE Brewing from Denver open up a tavern here. Those two stick out the most. If any of you guys are reading this from these establishments, you have a fan base here!”


    Wesley Bacon

    25, Louisville Magazine Dive Bar Diary columnist by night, producer at Kertis Creative by day


    How did you get interested in visiting dive bars?

    “I think it started when I lived in Bowling Green, Kentucky. I grew up in Tampa and then we moved to Nashville, so I always lived in a big city. Then when I moved to Bowling Green, we only had dive bars. I went there for college and I was a creative-writing major. I never wrote about dive bars back then; I just went to them to observe people. You end up having conversations with strangers who are completely different from you. It’s kind of a neutral space.”


    Do you have a definition of a dive bar?

    “Essentially, a dive bar for me is a place where people aren’t on edge about people looking at them or seeing someone they know. You don’t get dressed up to go to your favorite dive bar. You don’t really care about being seen. It’s definitely not a place that’s trying to be a dive bar. Third Street Dive wouldn’t count because the word ‘dive’ is in the name. A lot of dive bars now have a web presence, but it’s mostly like a Facebook page or something like that where regulars comment on it. Typically a dive bar won’t have a web presence that’s projecting anything. You can’t open a place and say, ‘This is going to be a dive bar.’ You have to just be like, ‘This is my bar and whatever you do with it, it either naturally falls into that category or it doesn’t.’”


    Do you have a standard drink order when you go visit bars?

    “Usually there isn’t much of an option. Usually it’s like, ‘We have Budweiser and we have bourbon.’ And luckily for me, I drink both of those things. I always look around and get what everybody else has.”


    Have you ever been surprised by someone’s drink selection?

    “In Iroquois Manor, the Peppermint Lounge bartender’s specialty was a pineapple upside-down cake. She made hurricanes and really fruity beach drinks. A lot of the people who came in there were drinking them. They’ll make you pizza too. They have a big freezer with frozen pizzas and they’ll put them in this pizza oven with a conveyor belt. Go there for Saturday night. It’s karaoke night and they will literally let anyone sing.” 


    Have you ever seen any exceptional karaoke performances?

    “At the Deuce out on Preston Highway, this woman came in and did ‘Purple Rain,’ and it was seriously the most amazing thing I’ve seen in my life. We were all speechless.”


    How about dive-bar bathrooms? 

    “The Whirlaway, on South Fourth Street near U of L, is by far my favorite because that bar is so weird and dirty and the windows are padded up and it doesn’t even look open. There’s also not a single woman in there. And you walk into the bathroom and it’s like fake plants, four different types of hairspray and all these girly touches. You can tell that somebody went in this bathroom and was like, ‘I’m gonna make this nice for the ladies.’ Like, the one lady who wanders in there. The Central Avenue Beer Depot is another of my favorites. You can’t even see yourself in the mirror because the mirror is just this scratched-up piece of metal drilled into the wall.”


    If you were going somewhere this Saturday and you weren’t writing about it, where would you go?

    “I like Kaiju in Germantown. Zanzabar, Nachbar, Seidenfaden’s. I love the Cure Lounge on South Shelby Street. It’s a weird place, and I was really surprised at how good the food is. Something weird has happened every time I’ve been there. One time a guy came up and started telling me about how much he loves Limp Bizkit. Another time this whole wedding party came in, watched a skateboarding video on the TV and then left. Then another time this tiny woman kept trying to get me to breakdance with her.”

    Todd Pharris

    45, “beer czar” at Liquor Barn


    What was the first drink you ever had?

    “Sterling beer in a can from my grandfather. I was, like, eight. He drank the worst beer ever. At the time, they didn’t have lined cans, so it basically tasted like the tin can.”


    What was your introduction to craft beer?

    “I didn’t like beer for years because I only drank bad beer. But in my early 20s I drank some Newcastle, which now I’d be like, ‘I can’t even taste it.’ But the flavor sensation at the time was amazing. And then there was Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. The first time I tasted it I was like, ‘Wow, this is the hoppiest beer I’ll ever have. They couldn’t possibly make one hoppier.’ And here I am drinking a double IPA right now.”


    What’s the worst beer-brewing idea you’ve seen? 

    “The beer with the chili in it, that’s a bad idea. There’s a lot of bad ideas. Beers with salt added. Gose (a German style that’s brewed with coriander and salt) is good, but this is just a lager that somebody poured a little salt in.”


    What beers do you have in your refrigerator right now?

    “Somebody brought me back a six-pack of Jai Alai (named for a game that originated in the Basque region of Spain) from Cigar City Brewing in Tampa, Florida. Apparently, Tampa is Cigar City of the U.S. That’s something beer taught me.”


    What’s your drink besides beer? 

    “Bourbon. If I’m at a place I trust, I’ll get a Manhattan or an Old Fashioned.”


    Do you feel like people are self-conscious when ordering beer around you?

    “No, because I joke around with people. I try to put them at ease. And (if they ask for recommendations), I try to steer them toward beer they’ll enjoy. Cumberland Brews has a cream ale that anyone can drink. If you try to get someone who’s really not into craft beer (to drink) a double IPA right away, they’ll never want another craft beer again. They’ll stick to Budweiser.”


    What craft beer would you suggest to someone whose beer of choice is, say, Keystone Light?

    “Louisville Lager from BBC. Or Cougar Bait (blonde ale) from Country Boy (in Lexington).”


    What’s the best beer you’ve ever had? Is that a hard question?

    “No, not at all! Probably the best beer I’ve ever had is a Three Floyds Dark Lord. It was aged in a bourbon barrel with vanilla beans. They probably made like 600 of them that year and somebody I knew got one. It’s certainly not an everyday beer.”


    What’s the worst?

    “We don’t sell it, but it’s called Beer 30 Light. It’s a 30-pack of beer. But we sell 30-packs of this beer called Milwaukee’s Reserve for $13.99. It comes in regular, ice and light and I guarantee you it all comes from the same vat.”


    Where are your favorite places to go out in Louisville?

    “Holy Grale, Cumberland Brews, Against the Grain. Most of them are beer-centric places. I also like Hilltop Tavern. Since I work way out in the East End, I like Guaca Mole. It’s fantastic Mexican food in a building that was an Applebee’s and a Shoney’s at some point.”


    Is there a food that always sounds good to you after an evening of drinking beer?

    “La Bamba. The chicken burrito has saved my life a couple times.”


    This article is courtesy of the June issue of Louisville Swig. To subscribe to Louisville Magazine, click here.

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    About Amy Talbott

    Piscean. INFJ. Cat person. Runner. Mediocre housekeeper. Excellent cook. Scours the sleaze on Craigslist so you don't have to.

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