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31 Day of Louisville Love: The Back Door

The Back Door is a windowless dive bar in a strip mall. I love it.

It’s a strange place and a required stop for our out-of-town visitors (well, not my parents). It’s open until 4 a.m., though I’ve only made it to 3:30. They have strong, cheap drinks — there’s always a $2.75 special — and good food. My go-to is the quesadilla, though I’ve had a tasty lentil soup, and I hear good things about the tuna steak. Their wings aided my fall from vegetarianism. But if you leave your id at home, no wings or $2.75 drinks for you.  I’ve never seen anyone get past the doorman without their ID. 

If you go to the Back Door enough, you may never leave. The faces of the most regular regulars have been painted on the walls and smile down on you as you drink your Old Forrester or sprite-and-tequila margarita. Sometimes you can spot someone from the wall in the crowd. Should looking for wall people amongst the real people not be enough entertainment for you, there’s also a little Back Door lending library, a shelf of books by the entrance. Or, try your hand at some Skeeball. Or pool, darts, or video game golf. 

While I’ve certainly made the Back Door my first and sometimes only stop in a night, it’s really a place you go at the end of the night, after the last place closes. It was the second stop on that bridal/bachelorette party, on birthday parties, barbecues, and on regular Saturday nights. You think you’re about to go home, but then… "Back Door?"

One of my favorite Back Door experiences happened on a Derby night. We were there with a friend, and it was packed. I ordered an Amaretto sour, and when the bartender brought it to me, I said, “That’s so pretty, if it had a beach umbrella, it would really be a party.” She held up a finger, stepped away, and when she came back, put a drink umbrella in my cocktail. On Derby night, while it’s crazy, she went and got my drink a silly decoration. I’m still touched. 

Happily, one of the people I most associate with the Back Door has already tipped me off to his favorite Boston bar. I’m sure it will be good, but I bet it doesn’t have paintings of its regulars on the wall. 

Back Door, I will miss you.  

Kentucky, you have ruined me

I am not that well-versed in liquors, but since moving to Kentucky, I've learned about bourbon and have started taking it for granted. I expect a selection of bourbon behind the bar, and when I ask for bourbon on a plane, I don't expect the following: 

Me: Do you have bourbon?

Flight Attendant: Is this bourbon? Shows me Jack Daniel's 

Me: Um... no... 

FA: I have bourbon, hang on. Goes to front of cabin, comes back and shows me Dewar's 

Is this bourbon? 

Me: No, that's Scotch

FA: Is this not bourbon? Shows me Jack Daniels again 

Me: No, but it will do.   


I have been that confused server ("What is 7&7?") -- and would probably still be confused if asked about brandy or Scotch. I just forget that outside of Kentucky, bourbon is not a given.