Lexington Bar Guide 2011: Bars with great views

August 19, 2011 

Some bars serve arresting views with their beverages. Here are a few that offer prettiness alongside their potent potables.

Jean Farris Winery and Bistro

6825 Old Richmond Rd. (859) 263-9463. Jeanfarris.com. Wine-tasting bar hours: noon-9 p.m. Tue.-Fri., 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Sat., 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sun. Restaurant hours: 5:30-close Tue.-Sun.; brunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sat, Sun.

Leave behind the urban/suburban rut to watch the sun set over the vines and enjoy the wine at Jean Farris. The knowledgeable bartender will explain each 2-ounce pour as you enjoy a flight of classic whites ($6) or reds ($11), or Jean Farris blends ($5). The best of the offerings are in the Vintner's Select package ($11), or design your own with three wines available by the glass ($10).

Noteworthy: The seasonal bar menu offers a selection of cheeses and charcuteries to accompany wine. Dinner and brunch reservations are recommended.

Riptide Restaurant, Bar and Marina

9079 Old Richmond Rd. (859) 263-3286. Riptideontheriver.com. Hours: 4-11 p.m. Tue.-Thu.; noon-2:30 a.m. Fri., Sun.

Who knew that Interstate 75 could be a pleasant piece of scenery? From the deck and outdoor pub at Riptide, the curving arches of the I-75 bridge over the Kentucky River are just part of the beautiful backdrop. It's as if the owners of the joint lifted one of downtown Lexington's popular nightspots — complete with cornhole games, a dance floor and pool tables — and dropped it on the bank of the river, surrounded by greenery and ambling water. Be prepared to pay a hefty cab fee if you don't have a designated driver: Riptide is 15 miles from downtown, but the far-from-anywhere feel is the biggest selling point of this bar.

Noteworthy: Bands play Thursday through Saturday nights. The bands aren't always good, but you can check who's playing each night on the bar's Web site.

Skybar

Penthouse floor at 269 W. Main St. (859) 368-7900. Skybarlex.com. Hours: 11 a.m-2 p.m. and 4 p.m.-2:30 a.m. Tue.-Fri., 4 p.m.-2:30 a.m. Sat.

With the demise of Bakers 360, Skybar is now the only place downtown to sit high above the city and have a drink (or a meal). The view is a pretty one, too. Look eastward and you can see traffic coursing down Main Street, with the lights of The Kentucky Theatre's marquee glowing in the distance. Oddly, even though much of Skybar's ceiling is glass (including the restrooms), you can't really see the stars, even when there's a full moon. You'll just have to rely on the lovely fiber-optic stars twinkling above the bar. Set up as a series of rooms, Skybar can be an intimate affair, or you can choose to bust a move or two on the central dance floor.

Noteworthy: The drink menu is expansive, covering everything from inexpensive glasses of wine to "premium bottle service" for a 1981 Krug Champagne for $1,500.

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