Lou’s Pub celebrates craft cocktails with its one-of-a-kind Church Night program
The couple at Lou’s Pub orders cocktails from the tall bartender with a clean-shaven head and amiable smile.
He sets out two glasses, filling each with ice. Holding two jiggers in his left hand, he measures spirits into steel shakers before adding sweetening, souring, and bittering potions. A serene look settles over his face as he vigorously shakes one drink with his left hand while stirring the other clockwise with his right. The smile returns as he strains each drink into the chilled glasses and reaches out to serve them.
Angel flexes his wings on another Church Night.
One of the key figures in Birmingham’s booming cocktail scene, Angel Negrin runs a twice-weekly craft cocktail program at Lou’s, a Lakeview hangout for a loyal, mostly beer and mixed-drinks crowd since it opened in 1987.
It was pure coincidence that the bar shifts Negrin inherited at Lou’s in January 2013 were on Wednesdays and Sundays.
“As the pop-up became established, customers began asking when cocktails are available,” Negrin says. “To help them remember we’d tell them to think ‘church nights.’ We said it often enough and the guests thought it was clever enough it kind of became a thing. Only then did it get a title.”
Church Night is a one-of-a-kind program in a one-of-a-kind bar. It was the city’s first cocktail program independent of a restaurant (Octane, whose kitchen-free cocktail program Negrin also helped establish, was the second). Lou’s, grandfathered under a license the state is no longer allowed to issue, is the only bar in Alabama that sells both drinks in-house and bottles to-go.
The pop-up arose from discussions Negrin had with owner Michael Carpri about ways to expand the Lou’s experience by adding classic cocktails and more esoteric brands of retail liquors and mixers to the pub/store’s standard brands. Church Night has expanded to include obscure vintage cocktails, personal recipes, and drinks that pay tribute to mixology mentors.
Negrin divides the main menu into shaken and stirred drinks, plus compositions served in tall glasses. Classics (Algonquin to Vieux Carre) are listed on one side; the reverse includes Church Night specials (such as the rum-spiked Ham Shot First). Riffs on Old Fashioned cocktails might include a select whiskey from Colorado or a 15-year barrel-aged rum.
Prices on Negrin’s favorite drink are discounted from 3 p.m.-7 p.m. on Church Nights. The Daiquiri Time Out includes…