Lexington Bar Guide 2011: Student bars

August 19, 2011 


    Harvey's and Hugo's, Metropol, Portofino, Skybar, Soundbar.

Lexington is many things, but one of its most prominent faces is as a college town. Here are bars that students flock to when school is in session.

Charlie Brown's Restaurant and Lounge

816 Euclid Ave. (859) 269-5701. Charliebrowns.lex.com. Hours: 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Mon.-Thu.; 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Fri., Sat.; noon-midnight Sun.

The place is a restaurant and bar, but it could easily be mistaken for an abandoned library. Bookcases line the walls with titles unrecognizable since the 1970s, and patrons sit comfortably on vintage couches eating bison burgers or sharing a liter of their favorite well drink ($10.75). When patrons tire of the dimly lit ambience, which produces a unique dining daze, they can retreat to the patio out back or move closer to one of the corner fireplaces.

Noteworthy: Rumor has it that one of the books on the shelves has a $100 bill tucked among its pages.

DeVassa Bar and Lounge

401 W. Main St. (859) 455-9139. Devassa.net. Hours: 5 p.m.-2:30 a.m. Tue.-Sat.

DeVassa is Portuguese for "liberated woman." When owner T.J. Gordon got the suggestion from his business partner, who lived a year in Brazil, he knew it was perfect for the Latin vibe he wanted his club to have. DeVassa is known for its progressive, urban nightlife vibe and a "melting pot of a good time," as staff describes it. Grab a $5 bottle of wine on Vineyard Thursdays.

Noteworthy: On Saturdays, DJs from Cleveland, Chicago, Atlanta and Miami spin the hottest tracks.

Harvey's and Hugo's

200 W. Main St. (859) 226-9333. Hours: Harvey's, 3 p.m.-2:30 a.m. Mon.-Sat.; Hugo's and outside patio, 10 p.m.-2:30 a.m. Fri., Sat.

Owner Avena Joyce has met her aspiration to segue the laid-back upscale contemporary-yet-casual cocktail lounge with jukebox at Harvey's to the weekend-only DJ-spinning dance club Hugo's next door. Happy hour is all night, with $5 martinis and cocktails, above-average draft and bottled beers, and limited wines. Come early on weekend nights for a drink and chat with friends before the dance floor and outside patio, complete with music videos, beckons you to groove.

Noteworthy: Try a Harvey's Kiss, made with St. Germain, or for a drink not on the specialty menu, ask friendly bartender Megan for a Megaritaor a Megahattan, with your choice of favorite spirit.

Hugh Jass Burgers

S. Limestone and Euclid Ave. (859) 357-8934. Hughjassburgers.com. Hours: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Mon.-Tue., Thu.; 11 a.m.-midnight Wed., Fri., Sat.; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sun.

With a cheeky name like Hugh Jass Burgers, you might expect a nasty little dive. But this bar and grill at a prime spot next to the University of Kentucky campus is anything but. Clean, light and airy, the sports-centric Hugh Jass features a long bar with some great beers on tap and a wide variety of spirits. The narrow space has lots of seating, a spacious front patio and a pool table in the back. The real draw, though, is the burgers: juicy, tasty and with lots of toppings.

Noteworthy: You'll see lots of students eating and drinking at Hugh Jass, but townies are welcome, too.

The Penguin Dueling Piano Bar

517 Main St., in The 500s. (859) 327-3333. Penguinpianobar.com. Hours: 8 p.m.-2 a.m. Thu.-Sat. (shows begin at 9 p.m.); 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Sun., 9 p.m.-2:30 a.m. Tue. (no piano shows).

Pianists are flown in from all over the country to perform each weekend at this local edition of the regional piano-bar chain, so the show's always different. You'll find yourself singing along with classic rock 'n' roll or the latest pop. The drinks are pretty standard, but there's a decent selection of beers, wine and cocktails. It's not the highlight, because honestly, how could it compete with being able to turn a whole bar into one tone-deaf band?

Noteworthy: For the nerds in the audience, don't bother trying to Rick-roll the bar by requesting Rick Astley's Never Gonna Give You Up. The pianists never seem to know it. Yeah, right.

Redmon's Fine Music and Spirits

269 W. Main St. (859) 252-5802, 9 p.m.-2:30 a.m. Thu.-Sat.; music starts about 10:30 p.m.

A basement bar along Main Street, Redmon's might best be described as an upscale live country music venue. Music, rather than the standard alcohol selection, is the major appeal. There's a regular crowd for the regular performers, and you'll often hear owner Larry Redmon play.

Noteworthy: Don't expect lots of room. Redmon's often spills out into the street, as folks climb up the stairs to take a break from the jam-packed bar.

Two Keys Tavern

333 S. Limestone. (859) 254-5000. Twokeystavern.com. Hours: 11 a.m.-2:30 a.m. daily.

Two Keys, directly across from UK's North campus, doesn't have much to offer in ambience, or even bar service for that matter, but its patrons don't ask for much. Join the student crowd at its staple spot for fun on Thursday nights to participate in the $10 all-you-care-to-drink night, the only time you'll pay a cover. On Tuesdays and Saturdays, get aquatic with goldfish races (at 11 p.m. every Tuesday) or the Fish Bowls, holding five recipes of your choice.

Noteworthy: If all that drinking has made you hungry, grab a slice of Goodfella's Pizza on your way out.

Wildcat Saloon

123 Cheapside. (859) 309-1297. Wildcatsaloon.com. Hours: 6 p.m.-2:30 a.m. Wed., 5 p.m.-2:30 a.m. Thu.-Sat.

Wildcat Saloon is one of the newest bars in what's becoming a popular spot downtown near the old courthouse. Even though it bills itself as a college bar, you'll find less of a college motif and more of a Western theme; it features nice woodwork reminiscent of a Colorado bar. If the night gets wild enough, you might find yourself being invited to dance on some of the bar, because it often gets a few enthusiastic patrons atop it in an evening.

Noteworthy: The popular Cat Juice drinks are a combination of rum, blue Hawaiian Punch and citrus punch, forming a creative blend of orange on bottom, blue on top and green in the middle.

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