115 Cheapside Street
Hours: Monday-Friday, 4:00 p.m. – 2:30 a.m., Saturday 7:00 p.m. – 2:30 a.m. (Opening earlier during WEG)
Located next to the Pavilion in Cheapside Park, The Bluegrass Tavern offers an unrivaled glimpse into a bourbon lover’s nirvana. They serve bourbon and lots of it: 187 different choices to be exact. You read that correctly, 187 different labels of bourbon, in one location.
“We are the premier bourbon bar in Kentucky;” owner Larry Redmond says without a hint of braggadocio. “We don’t serve food, we aren’t a nightclub, we are what we are and that’s a place that offers up collectible and high-end bourbons that others just don’t have.”
But it is not just the opportunity to make a selection from among the small mountain of bourbons that reside behind the bar that makes the Bluegrass Tavern such a unique place to visit.
“What we have tried to do with the look of the Tavern,” Larry explains, “is to emulate a saloon from the turn of the century. We have pressed tin ceilings and a Brunswick bar that was built in 1896. Everything we do harkens back to a bygone era. When you walk through the front door you just get the feeling that this place has been here for a lot longer than it actually has.”
That sentiment extends to the staff and their appearance as well.
“We have all the guys in black pants, a white shirt and a black tie,” Larry says. “We want to convey what you could call an ‘old south’ style.”
In addition to looking the part, head mixologist Chris Evans and the rest of the staff can help identify the appropriate bourbon for you.
“We strive to provide our customers with good service and good drinks,” Larry says of the Tavern’s philosophy. “People come in and learn about bourbons. All the guys working here are very well versed on the subject. Not only can they offer you up suggestions based on your preferences, but they can tell you the history and story behind a good number of the brands.”
House specials include Manhattans, a high ball and the Bluegrass Tavern’s signature drink the ‘old-fashioned’, which Larry jokes “is a drink your grandmother probably used to drink.”
The recent construction of the Pavilion and the closure of Cheapside Alley has provided Bluegrass Tavern with one of Lexington’s biggest outdoor patios.
“It’s been a really big hit,” Larry says of the patio. “Chris gets out there and gives our patrons an up-close and personal view of what goes in to making some of these cocktails that had their heyday back in the 1920s and 30s.”
“We aren’t trying to be anything we aren’t,” Larry concludes. “The essence of the Tavern is Kentucky, horses and bourbon.”