The Silver Dollar is a fun place to drink a Bourbon, rye or tequila. This restaurant and Bourbon Bar is on Frankfort Avenue in Louisville and is housed in the old Albert Stoll firehouse. The restaurant and bar still has the fire pole in the front corner of the dining room. I am told for liability reasons it is not in use, but I am willing to bet a few employees have slid down it after closing. The bar is attractive, but not outstanding in itself, but the back bar is very impressive. There are spirits lined up on three shelves the full length of the bar. There is music playing and it is coming from their vinyl record player. A little Willie Nelson. The atmosphere is friendly, fun and laid back.
I sit down at the bar and look over the menu. It is very extensive with probably 180 or so Bourbons listed. They also have a wide range of cocktails listed as well as rye, “moonshine” and other American whiskeys. I like they have a separate category titled “Seasoned Bourbons” for products like Angel’s Envy and Maker’s Mark 46. They also have an extensive list of tequila. The cuisine for the restaurant is a southwestern style and tequila does fit in with their food menu. The Bourbons are listed under the distiller’s name and they have many different expressions of brands that are hard to find. This includes many single barrel selections chosen by the bar staff. The prices range from $5 to $200. I settle on an Old Bardstown 101 at $6 for a drink. There is no menu for flights.
Michelle the bartender comes and pours the drink. It is a measured pour of an ounce and a half in a glass that looks like an oversized shot glass. It is not the best glass for tasting whiskey but it is a good one for drinking whiskey. I ask Michelle if they offer tasting glasses to customers who request them and she replies that this style of glass is all they have. I can understand this in that the Silver Dollar is going for the casual, fun atmosphere without any pretense or whiskey snobbery. This is a place for everyone to come have a drink. Still it would be nice if they had something better upon request. I also ask her about flights. She replies they don’t advertise them but they will do them with three half pours at the cost of half the whiskey poured cost. The customer would have to do the math to figure out the cost or simply trust the server’s math ability.
The real charm to this place is their extensive menu. Some of the offerings are a bit expensive, but not out of line expensive. That $200 pour is for the John E. Fitzgerald 20yo that sells for about $300 for a 375ml bottle. Not unreasonable of a price at all. I suspect they will have it around for a while since there are so many great Bourbons at a more affordable price on the menu. I decide to try something I have not seen before and that is a single barrel selection of J.T.S. Brown Bottled-in-Bond. The menus says it is “4yr 6mo” old. I like the regular J.T.S. Brown Bonded so I thought I would see what they chose for this bottling. It was rather good in my opinion and at only $7 a pour, very reasonable in price. I am actually impressed with their ability to pick barrels. Just about anyone can pick a great tasting 10yo Barrel, but to find a 4 ½ year old barrel that is this good is impressive.
The staff at the Silver Dollar is very well informed. Michelle had only bartended there for a short time but she was quick to answer my questions in an informative manner. I also know that the owners have been sending staff members to my Filson Bourbon Academy whenever I hold one. In fact Larry Rice, one of the owners, was a member of my very first Bourbon Academy. They believe in educating the staff and I think it shows in the quality of the service.
At the end of the visit I have scored The Silver Dollar the following points: 2 points for atmosphere and 1 point for having a fire pole. Afire pole will always earn you a point in my book! I will give them 2 points for the menu. I did find one mistake but when I pointed it out Michelle quickly brought it to the manager’s attention and it will be corrected in the next printing. I can only give them .5 of a point for flights. Yes they offer them but you have to ask to get one and do your own math in figuring out your budget for the flight. I will give them one point for the pour. It was a decent sized pour but it would have been nice to have a tasting glass. Their staff is very knowledgeable, friendly and attentive and that will earn them 2 points as well. The grand total for The Silver Dollar is 8.5 points.
Photos Courtesy of Maggie Kimberl