If a person came to Louisville and walked down Market Street they may not take a second glance at the Haymarket. It looks like a dive bar catering to the younger generation with live music several nights a week. The façade is not one that stands out as the building is old and looks it. However if this person walked inside they would find a Bourbon lover’s piece of heaven. The owner Matthew Landon has put together a whiskey bar that is the envy of many other establishments in the city. Haymarket gets its name from the area it is located. In the 19th century this section of Market Street was known as “The Haymarket” and fresh produce was brought in from farms to be sold to the citizens of Louisville. Matt has carried this tradition forward by bringing in many unique whiskeys to his bar for the citizens of Louisville to enjoy.
The bar at Haymarket is attractive with a back bar filled with bottles of great Bourbon, Rye and other whiskeys. The staff behind the bar is always friendly and knowledgeable. When asking for the menu, you cannot help but to be impressed – it has a glossary! This sixteen page menu has products listed by “Bourbon”, (well over 250 on the menu), Discontinued Bourbons, (about 25), Rye (about 75), a cross index of Bottled-in-bond products, Other American Whiskey, Flavored Whiskey, International and Scotch Whiskies. There are 14 suggested flights and that glossary of terms. The back cover is a list of the private barrel selections available, not only by the drink but to be purchased should you really like the whiskey.
The prices are reasonable with many pours only being $5.00 but they can be higher for products such as Pappy 20yo with a list price of “market price”. Yes he has it but be prepared to pay for it. Ask the bartender and he will steer you in a good direction based upon what you like. Matt is a highly trained whiskey person and he makes sure his staff meet his standards. The list of flights range in price from $8.00 to $25.00 with each having three whiskeys except the two $25.00 flights have four! The Rutledge Tribute flight is well worth the money as you get to taste four of the ten recipes made at Four Roses. For $13.00 you can get the discontinued flight with Old Charter 8yo, Early Times 354 and Old Fitzgerald 1849. I would pay that much just for the Old Fitzgerald 1849!
The atmosphere at the bar is friendly and inviting. The live music takes place in the back of the building and the result is the bar, while often full, does not seem overly crowded. The pours are generous and whiskey tasting glasses are available upon request. The one thing that really makes this place stand out is that it is a Bar and not a restaurant. It is the only fully dedicated Bourbon Bar on the Urban Bourbon Trail. All others are part of a restaurant.
In the end I give Haymarket 3 points for selection and menu. It is the best I have seen so far. I give them 2 points for their flights, 2 points for their knowledge and training, and 1 point for the atmosphere if you are over 40, but 2 for atmosphere for those under 40. I give them another 1 point for generous pours for a total of either 9 or 10 points depending upon your age. In any case, Haymarket is a place that should be visited at least twice a year by any Bourbon Enthusiast and more so if you are living in the city.
Photos Courtesy of Maggie Kimberl