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November 30, 2011

Bar Belle: The beef on Meat

Just the other night I was beckoned by the faint call of a new bar opening. Like the Bat signal beamed in the sky when there’s trouble, I, too, get similar calls to action when a new member joins the family. This particular call of duty was to meet Meat, a stylish speakeasy that sits above the Blind Pig in Butchertown.

Meat embodies hipness. Meat is a bartender’s bar. It’s 732 Social on acid. But it does not require skinny jeans to enter. It does not serve food. You have to scale a few stairs to enter the dark, quaint room, and you may have to wait a bit for a cocktail, so check your instant gratification at the door. The Prohibition-style cocktails are fashioned from ingredients both familiar and foreign. They’re made with attention to detail — details that span the evolution of the cocktail itself. The pros behind the bar are happy to provide history lessons, but I prefer to sit back and just let things be.

The shadowy room is scattered with comfy couches, tables and plenty of nooks to hide away in. Comfortable bar stools surround the rectangular bar. And situated on one side is a tower of jars offering free snacks. Grab a baggie and start scooping. On this particular night, I found candy, nuts, pretzels … and is that beef jerky? Bonus.

Did I mention Meat is dark? It was a bit hard to read the extensive cocktail menu, as it’s printed on red paper. But I squinted enough to order the Upton Sinclair … which I called “Uptown” several times on accident. The bartender quickly went to work concocting a potent potion like a mad scientist. The ingredients included Wild Turkey Rye, Germain-Robin Brandy, Punt e Mes, Cynar, demerara syrup, bitters and an orange peel. I don’t know what some of those things are — and I even took those stupid bartending classes — but the drink was amazing. Delicious. Smooth. Sinful.

My cohort ordered the Captain’s Blood, a rum drink with Bacardi Anejo, house falernum, lime juice, demerara syrup and celery seed bitters. Also delicious with a bite.

I have returned since my first visit and tried several other offerings, including their latest, which is not on the menu — Coke Dick Motorcycle Awesome. Don’t ask. Just order it. Meat also makes its own beer (with the help of Cumberland Brews — “Light Meat” and “Dark Meat”) and wine (“White Meat and “Red Meat”). Extra bonus points. The dark beer tasted like the offspring of BBC’s Nut Brown and Cumberland’s Red Ale.

If you are still grieving over the loss of Social, it’s high time you get acquainted with Meat. Owned and operated by Peyton Ray and Jeremy Johnson (of the Blind Pig), the bar is comfortable and simple. The ambiance is chill, the mood relaxed. On weekends, you might find Carly Johnson belting out jazz numbers in the corner.

Beers are $4.50, wine is $7, drinks are $10. Meat is at 1076 E. Washington St., above the Pig.

Around the Horn
There are so many things going on these next few weeks, I’m cloning a liver. Here are a few events you should tell Siri about so she can remind your forgetful ass.

Bardstown Road Aglow — Saturday, Dec. 3, 5 p.m., Highlands: This month’s party features a Four Roses Holiday Cocktail Contest … and I’ve been selected as a judge. How’d they entice me? Free bourbon and rides in a party van, of course!

Manhattan Experience at Kentucky Derby Museum — Tuesday, Dec. 6, 6:30 p.m.: Louisville bartenders contend for the title of “Best Manhattan” in this competition sponsored by Woodford Reserve and Esquire magazine. I’m honored to be a judge and will start boning up my bourbon palate as we speak.

12 Days of Christmas at Holy Grale — Dec. 13-24, 4 p.m., 1034 Bardstown Road: 20 rotating holiday beers from around the world on tap for 12 days. Now that’s a countdown worth participating in, Seacrest.

“Bar Belle” Book Tour — I’m big pimpin’. Tomorrow (Dec. 1) I’ll be at Rich O’s in New Albany, 6 p.m.; Dec. 7 at Varanese, 6:30 p.m. (where they’re making a drink for me: Bar Belle’s Nightcap, with chocolate-covered bacon!); and Dec. 9 at R Place Pub, 6 p.m.

Drunk Texts of the Week
• Naked photo hunt makes me happy
• I just realized that one leg was bigger than the other two
• Im thankful 4 pubic lice
• Gravy is unicorn saliva

Send your drunk texts to shavens@leoweekly.com. My blog is at barbelle.leoweekly.com. Word. 

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