Want to be transported to the Prohibition Era?

Look no further than Hell or High Water, an inconspicuous cocktail lounge for “curious spirits” below Whiskey Row in Louisville, Kentucky.

They’re serving up innovative cocktails in a vintage setting. Every visit has a familiar but novel feel, as secret rooms and vintage lights adorn the space. Bricks and wood found inside Hell or High Water were reclaimed from the original Whiskey Row buildings.

Hell or HIgh Water Lounge Seating

Hell or High Water Lounge Seating. (Photo by Andrew Hyslop Photography)

Maud Welch and Stirling Welch, the brother-sister pair from Louisville were inspired by their travels and visits to speakeasies throughout the East and West coasts, and their mission is pretty straightforward: “At Hell or High Water, we strive to be a gathering place for our community—a small indulgence where we can rest our worries at the door and explore our whims, passions and curiosities.”

Hell or HIgh Water Lounge

Hell or High Water Lounge  (Photo by Andrew Hyslop Photography)

“We believe Howard Thurman said it best: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” From the drinks we serve, to the nourishment we offer, our hope is to spark connection and inspire guests to see the wonder in each other’s passions.”

Hell or HIgh Water Bartender

Hell or High Water Bartender (Photo by Jon Cherry)

The drinks program is led by Beverage Director James Siegel and is updated seasonally, which allows for more creativity. It is divided between cocktails that embody “Hell” (strong, spirit-driven cocktails) and “Highwater” (refreshing beverages on the lighter side). “Being a prohibition-style Speakeasy, we tend to focus on the classics, so we get cocktail calls like The Last Word, Sazerac, Manhattan and of course Old Fashioned being we are in the land of Bourbon.

On our current menu, we have a couple of popular cocktails, one being the Calling Card, which is a blend of an Old Fashioned and Manhattan. Hell or High Water is committed to authenticity and quality, with thoughtful execution of their cocktails (it even says so at the bottom of their menu. Take a peek, if you wish (discreetly, of course).

Come into the Garden

Come into the Garden. (Photo by Andrew Hyslop Photography)

Come into the Garden


  • 2 oz. Old Tom Gin
  • 2 dashes basil tincture
  • 3 blackberries
  • 3 slices serrano pepper
  • 1/4 oz. ginger syrup
  • 1/2 oz. lemongrass syrup
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice

Preparation: Muddle ingredients without gin, then add. Shake vigorously and double strain into Old Fashioned glass with pebble ice. Blackberry and lemongrass stalk for garnish.

This Side of Paradise

This Side of Paradise. (Photo  by Andrew Hyslop Photography)

This Side of Paradise


  • 2 oz Rhum Clement Blanc
  • 4 quarters lime with Sirop de canne (muddled)
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. pineapple/coconut gastrique

Preparation: Shake vigorously and pour over pebble ice in Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with lime wheels.