Detective Bo Brady once served as a bouncer at The Pearl, which has no cover on New Year’s Eve. | Photo by Amanda Schuster

This is not a list of all the swanky parties going on Monday night where you drop a grand to get in, wear the highest heels you have and pass out before the clock strikes midnight.

Nor is this a list of the semi-cool happenings Monday night that involve an affordable cover and a decent band.

In fact, this isn’t a list at all.


I spent years creating those endless lists during my days at LEO Weekly and even here at Insider. I always had a hunch that not many people actually used them because they had their plans made long before the fat man in a red suit came to town.

But if you’re one of those people who have their head in the ground and need some direction, go check out the fine listings at Do502.

So what is this column going to be about? I’m not exactly sure at the moment, but I’ll keep typing anyway.

Oh yeah, how to New Year’s Eve like a boss.

There’s a pertinent scene in the wonderful Barbra Streisand-directed film “The Mirror Has Two Faces” that sums up my sentiments toward New Year’s Eve succinctly.

Mother Lauren Bacall is sitting at the dinner table with her grown daughter Streisand and Streisand’s new date Jeff Bridges. Streisand suggests Bacall go make the after-dinner coffee so she can have some one-on-one time with Bridges. And Bacall’s response?

“I’ve raised two daughters. I’ve buried a husband. I’ve made my coffee.”

I’m not saying I’m done making New Year’s Eve coffee — there are still many ball droppings to toast. I’m just done with the high expectations that usually come along with the holiday. And I’m done with the fancy parties.

I want to go somewhere in a comfortable pair of jeans, worn-out Chucks and a flannel. I want to spend the evening drinking friends in a space where I can hear them complain about renovating an old house. I want to sip on reasonably priced alcoholic beverages — from bourbon to beer — and perhaps even toast midnight with some sparking wine.

And no, I don’t want to go to a house party.

So where is this magical place I speak of? It’s actually anywhere there’s a corner bar, a neighborhood watering hole or a dive bar. These are the best spots to spend New Year’s Eve — and there is no pretension, no expectation, no fancy cocktail attire, no cover charge, nobody grinding up on your business on a dance floor, no valet parking, no nonsense … unless you want there to be.

How about I name a few:

  • Air Devil’s Inn
  • Akasha Brewing Co.
  • Bambi Bar
  • The Bard’s Town
  • Big Bar
  • Butchertown Social
  • Chill Bar
  • Dundee Tavern
  • Galaxie
  • Gravely Brewing Co.
  • Hikes Point Lounge
  • Holy Grale
  • Joe’s Older Than Dirt
  • The Limbo (free only for bar and restaurant industry folks)
  • Lola
  • Mellwood Tavern
  • Nouvelle
  • O-Line Sports Grill
  • The Pearl
  • Pints & Union (New Albany)
  • R Place Pub
  • Seidenfaden’s
  • Silver Dollar
  • Stooges Bar & Grill
  • Taj
  • Troll Pub

Crap. I said I wasn’t going to make a list.

Anyway, that’s a pretty decent grouping of bars — I wouldn’t mind ringing in the new year with a Jagerbomb at any of those. (I’ll keep adding to this list if my Insider Louisville Research Team uncovers more.)

If you have a favorite neighborhood haunt and it’s not listed above, you might want to call before Ubering over there, because some dive bars close for the holiday to give their employees a night off. Some of those include The Back Door, Barret Bar and Outlook Inn.

But back to being a boss. I’ve done the soirees, the parties, the masquerades and even watched the ball drop with my own eyes in Times Square in 1999 — when we feared computers would shut down civilization as we know it. Turns out things did get worse those next few years, but they had nothing to do with a computer glitch.

Be a boss by getting a ride home with Lyft, Uber or a taxi. | Courtesy of Lyft

I don’t fault you for going to said parties — they’re something you do when you’re young and looking for adventure or old and looking for … something different. Plus, it means less people crowding into my bar.

Being a boss means doing what you want with the confidence of 10 Tom Cruises jumping on couches. Spend the money, save the money, buy your friends a drink, don’t drink, mix your drinks, drink a beer and a shot, kiss the bartender.

Just remember to use common sense — call a Lyft, Uber or Taxi; don’t go home with a stranger unless you know someone who went to his high school (so basically, in Louisville, go home with the stranger); don’t walk alone; don’t drink white zinfandel; don’t call people names unless it’s Al Havanother; don’t get in fights; use the bathroom quickly; and from the wise words of a Cracker Barrel sign, “If you sprinkle when you tinkle, please be sweet and wipe the seat.”

I’m not here to tell you what to do, just how to do it. After all, I’ve made my coffee. Now it’s time for bourbon.

This post has been updated with additional bars not offering covers on New Year’s Eve.

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Sara Havens
Sara Havens is the Culture Editor at Insider Louisville, known around town as the Bar Belle ( She's a former editor of LEO Weekly and has written for Playboy and The Alcohol Professor. Havens is the author of two books: "The Bar Belle" and "The Bar Belle Vol. 2."