Lexington's gay bars, all of which are straight-friendly, have a long history. Here are a few worth looking into.
117 N. Limestone. (859) 233-7266. Crossingslexington.com. Hours: 4 p.m.-1:30 a.m. Sun.-Thu., 4 p.m.-2:30 a.m. Fri.-Sat.
Years ago, Crossings was a dank, scary joint with a "Fresh Meat Market" sign above the bar. Now, it's more of a neighborhood gay bar catering to everyday men. It retains its dark aesthetic, but you're just as likely to see leather-bar types as you are college guys, professionals and a handful of straight people. The drinks are strong, a pool table is a big draw, and in summer, the sidewalk and patio are hopping.
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See: The unlabeled restrooms can be mystifying to newcomers, but the one on the right is for women.
257 W. Short St. (859) 721-0109. Pulsenightlife.com. Hours: 5 p.m.-1:30 a.m. Mon.-Wed., 5 p.m.-2:30 a.m. Thu.-Fri., noon-2:30 a.m. Sat., 3 p.m.-1:30 a.m. Sun.
A wraparound bar is the showpiece of this entertainment venue, inside a former bank (a pool table sits in the former vault). Slide up to the counter, and walk away with a glass in 90 seconds or less. There are nighttime drink specials on Tuesday ($10 pitchers) and Thursday ($10 for all the wells you can responsibly drink, $1.50 for domestic beer). Plus Pulse features a show nearly every night: drag queens or kings (sometimes both) on the weekends, karaoke on Wednesday and open mike on Tuesday. Get there early to snag a good seat.
Try: Pulse has its own kind of "therapy." That's what the venue calls its happy hour (until 9 p.m. daily, $2.50 well drinks and $1.50 domestic beers).
208 S. Limestone. (859) 523-6338. Soundbarlex.com. Hours: 4:30 p.m.-midnight Sun.-Wed., 4:30 p.m.-2:30 a.m. Thu.-Sat.
The sign out front shows it all: Soundbar, in modern white lettering on a black background. What you'll find inside is just as simple and elegant. The gay-friendly lounge features ultra-modern sofas far enough away from the DJ to allow a conversation. The walkways from the door to the dance floor are wide enough for two groups of friends to pass side by side. There's free wi-fi, not that you'll need it while you're socializing. Happy hour is 4:30 to 7 p.m. weekdays, 6 to 9 p.m. Saturdays, with appetizers 5 to 9:30. One note: The bar is always busy. But why not? Drinking is an experience here. The cocktails are top-shelf and perfectly mixed. As they say on their Web site: "If we wouldn't serve it in our house, we won't serve it in our bar. Period."
Taste: Drink specials include the big margarita pitcher, $18 on Fridays and $15 on Sundays.