Oaks and Derby are somewhat of a mixed blessing to Louisville residents. Sure the air is bristling with excitement: JCPS is closed and visions of naming the Trifecta dance in your head. You know those mint juleps won’t make themselves, so you might as well venture out into the public to restock your liquor cabinet. Though every place is crowded and traffic is snarled, we suggest you embrace your adventuring spirit. Who knows? Perhaps you’ll run into a celebrity you don’t detest and bond over fascinators and seersucker suits. As Hunter S. Thompson famously observed, “The Derby is decadent and depraved.” Go all in.

One half of the Derby City Soul Club and Co-founder of The Spinsters Union of Louisville, Kim Sorise, lays down her picks of where to escape the madness and where to turn it up.

If you can’t afford a $10,000 table at P. Diddy’s bash this weekend, have no fear–you’ve got options. The Spinsters Union, a collective of 17 women & gender non-conforming DJs, producers and beat makers, will be doing what they do best at locations all over the Ville this Derby weekend including: Barbarella, Chill Bar, Decca, Meta, Mile Wide Beer, Nouvelle, Nowhere Bar, and The Limbo Tiki Bar & Lounge. Go boogie off your bourbon.

Pizza LUPO is the passion project of two rockers and taco truck owner. The unlikely trio are bringing Neapolitan-style pizzas and handmade pastas to the outskirts of Butchertown. It’s a casual eatery that’s low-key enough to feel slightly off the radar and friendly enough that you won’t have to change your shirt before you leave the house. Order the Octopus & Potato small plate, perfectly charred octopus and fingerling potatoes dressed with a sassy puttanesca sauce. 1540 Frankfort Ave.

Naive  Balance your sins this weekend with a trip to this wholesome plant-based eatery. Naive has a pimped up Avocado Toast with goat cheese, jam and chili lime honey that’s calling our name. Carnivores, they’ve got you covered, too. Order a bowl and add their tasty Peruvian chicken breast or lamb kofta. Naive serves some pretty jazzy cocktails as well. 1001 E. Washington St.

Copper & Kings  Their serene Monarch butterfly sanctuary on campus might be reason enough to love Copper & Kings, but that is far from the only thing we dig about Louisville’s American brandy, absinthe, and gin distillery. They are downright rock & roll. Visit to hear more about how these rebels sonic age their spirits. Do a tasting and become a believer. 1121 E. Washington St.

Odeon Louisville  Sleek mid-modern decor, sexy lighting, intriguing cocktails, craft beer, and wine on tap make Odeon a great place to chill in Butchertown. They’ve got plans to be a music venue, so keep your eyes peeled for future gigs. 1335 Story Ave.

Whiskey Dry  Ed Lee tips his hat to classic diner food at this new 4th street eatery, marrying his love of whiskey and burgers. Sounds like a holy union to us. Boozy millkshakes and 30-day Dry Aged Koji Beef Burgers with Benton’s bacon and Whiskey Onions, here we come! 412 S. Fourth St.

bar Vetti  Everyone is buzzing about bar Vetti, and we will happily jump on that bandwagon. Rigatoni Cacio E Pepe, Cast Iron Fonduta, Duck Breast with grits and wild ramps, Tiramisu Gelato Affogato–bar Vetti, where have you been all our lives? Your Broadbent Country Ham Pizza with mascarpone, red onion, fig mostarda, and arugula with a drizzle of balsamic is the sweet and salty combo we’ve been dreaming of. Don’t ever leave us. 800 S. Fourth St.

Go classic with Kim’s personal fave, The Brown Hotel Lobby Bar. Those altruistic souls with deep pockets can order their exclusive Agave Julep for $1500: “The cocktail will highlight two world-renowned ultra-premium spirits, Patrón en Lalique: Series 2 and Old Rip Van Winkle 25-year-old bourbon, served in a custom gold-plated and engraved julep cup. A portion of proceeds will benefit the Kentucky Humane Society’s Equine C.A.R.E. program, which helps move horses into safe homes, implements wellness clinics, and offers educational tools and resources to the equine community.” Well done, Brown Hotel. 335 W. Broadway

Couvillion  This Schnitzelburg spot will put a bit of Cajun spice into your weekend. The Fish and Grits will transport you right into the heart of the French Quarter. Vegetarians will be thrilled with Josh’s Beet Loaf. Order Couvillion’s Fried Brussels Sprouts or Roasted Cauliflower with Creole mustard vinaigrette, capers, and chili flakes, and don’t shy away from the bewitching Bourbon Banana Pudding either. 1318 McHenry St.

Lydia House  Everyone loves a solid neighborhood joint. Lydia’s new patio will make you feel like you’ve moved to the cool kids’ table. Check out their terrific brunch and housemade Kombucha. 1101 Lydia St.

Hell or High Water Bar  While you’ll need reservations, plan ahead and you can hob knob with the best of them in this swanky seated cocktail lounge. Visit their “cover,” Hello Curio, for entry into the speakeasy, and while you’re there shop for “Fine Kentucky Curiosities.” 112 West Washington St.

Angel’s Envy  Get up close and personal with their Cask Strength Bourbon Finished in Port Barrels named “The Best Spirit in the World” by Spirit Journal. Angel’s Envy finishing room is as flat out spectacular as their spirits. If you are wanting a bourbon education, this is where to start. 500 E. Main St.

Nouvelle Bar and Bottle  Since you’re sporting your fancy attire this weekend, we suggest you spend some time at a wine bar with some panache. You’ll look splendid in their glorious NuLu courtyard decked out in Derby finery with a nice bottle from their well-chosen list and a nosh or two. They’re hosting a ticketed shindig with Royals Hot Chicken on Saturday, and they’re bringing out the good champagne for Derby Royale, ya’ll. 214 S. Clay St.

Liege & Dairy  Because who doesn’t need heavenly ice cream sitting atop a tiny waffle? While you’ll need to haul your cookies out to Brownsboro, Liege & Dairy is totally worth it. Fun fact: The owner is a former student of Kim Sorise. 2212A Holiday Manor Ctr.

Oskars  Sliders from Oskars are the perfect base for a afternoon of day drinking. Order the Pot Roast slider with pickled carrot or go full Scandinavian with Lingonberry Glazed Meatballs with pickles. Yum. 3799 Poplar Level Rd.

Want more? Check out our super-sized Louisville City Guide for more cool ‘Ville.

Special thanks to our roving photog, Marcia Franklin of Pophouse Designs.
© 2021