Roof With a View

Angel's Envy Old Fashioned, photo by Sara Havens
Angel's Envy Old Fashioned, photo by Sara Havens

The wait is finally over. As spring's return is celebrated on crowded bar and restaurant patios across the country, one city in particular is experiencing a whole new environment for outdoor drinking and dining — 8UP Elevated Drinkery & Kitchen, which recently opened its 4,000-square-foot rooftop bar and lounge to eager patrons.

Rooftop dining is nothing new in larger cities, but 8UP is one of the first in Louisville, Ky., which will soon be host to thousands of tourists attending the Kentucky Derby on May 2.

8UP opened in November on the eighth floor of the new Hilton Garden on Chestnut Street. The 14,000-square-foot upscale-casual restaurant was funded by Concentrics, an Atlanta-based company that runs more than 30 posh eateries nationwide. The patio had been closed off due to weather until just a few weeks ago.

While the dining room offers more upscale fare, the outdoor area presents a more casual space — along with a bar bites menu, seasonal cocktails, open fire pits and an unparalleled view of the Louisville skyline. The area adds about 220 seats at the bar, among the L-shaped sofas and throughout the various tables.

Sean Thibodeaux, photo by Sara Havens
Sean Thibodeaux, photo by Sara Havens

Highly respected mixologist Sean Thibodeaux has concocted an impressive seasonal cocktail menu that highlights fresh ingredients and smooth spirits. The Angel's Old Fashioned is made with 8UP's own barrel-selected Angel's Envy supply, while the Kentucky National features the extra-aged Jim Beam Black Label mixed with wood-grilled pineapple syrup, dry curaçao and lime.

Bourbon is the name of the game in Kentucky, but Thibodeaux also offers an array of spirits, particularly ones that work well in warmer weather. His White Margarita blends Olmeca Altos Tequila with white balsamic vinegar, Cointreau and sea salt; and the Boozy Bellini is a frozen drink made with Finlandia, white peach purée, Prosecco and orange juice.

photo by Emily Schultz
photo by Emily Schultz

Thibodeaux says he strived to achieve balance with his cocktail program and find a happy medium with a variety of tastes and preferences.

One experimental cocktail, called Smoke & Heat, features Kentucky Black Dog with lime juice, Canton Ginger Liqueur and a jalapeño/basil syrup served up and garnished with a candied jalapeño slice. The heat from the jalapeño lingers long after the initial swallow.

Chef Jacob Coronado's Bar Bites menu is meant to complement Thibodeaux's cocktails. With options like Korean-Style Short Ribs (Kalbi marinade, green onions, roasted peanuts) and Charred Shishito Peppers (chili soy glaze, bourbon, smoked sea salt), 8UP is fast becoming one of the South's go-to restaurants for wining and dining. Its “Progressive American”

cuisine is a welcome addition to Louisville's impressive dining scene.

8UP Elevated Drinkery & Kitchen

350 W. Chestnut St.

Louisville, Ky.