When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

16 February 2008

Bar culture in Louisville, Kentucky

Louisville is awash in bourbon. And beer. It's a drinking person’s town, due in no small part to the state’s bourbon heritage and the city’s nickname-namesake brewery, Falls City. This is where the Old Fashioned was invented. It’s where Al Capone dodged the law during prohibition, ducking out of the Seelbach Hotel through secret passageways. And it’s where barkeeps plied their customers with rolled oysters and bean soup to keep them coming back. Louisville’s private clubs, hotel bars, and neighborhood taverns are rich with drinking history and lore, and there’s always time for another round.

In January Southern Foodways Alliance oral historian Amy Evans bellied up to many a bar in Falls City, chatting up bartenders, bar owners, and bar patrons, gathering their stories one drink at a time. She met with John C. Johnson, 50-year employee of the Pendennis Club, where the Old Fashioned was born. Greg Haner, fourth-generation owner of Mazzoni’s, talked about his family’s 100-plus-year history of making and serving rolled oysters. Edward Winfield shared stories of the legendary Seelbach Hotel and the much-loved Louisville bartender Max Allen Jr., whom he had the opportunity to learn from before he passed.
Serious Eats/Southern Foodways: Bar Culture in Louisville, Kentucky — An Oral History Project

The interviews will be posted on the web at SouthernFoodways.com this spring.

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