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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to

< Back to Oral History project: Louisville Barroom Culture


Edward Winfield and Roger Baylor

Max Allen Jr. came from a family of bartenders. His father, Max “Scoopie” Allen, worked the bar at the legendary Seelbach hotel. Along with a set of bar tools, Max inherited a love of history and a passion for cocktails. For years, he worked at the old Louisville institution Hassenour’s; when it closed, he was recruited to follow in his father’s footsteps, tending bar at the Seelbach. Max was a bartender’s bartender. He knew names, stories and drinks, and made everyone who visited his bar feel like a regular. As he mixed their favorite cocktails, he plied them with tales about Louisville and the history of bourbon. He made an impression on the people he served, as well as on those he worked with behind the bar. Max passed away in 2000, but his memory lives on.

Edward Winfield arrived in the United States from his native England to study English. He got at the Seelbach to make some extra money. As he made his way through the ranks, he worked alongside Max Allen Jr. at the Seelbach Bar. Max imparted his knowledge and some of his stories to his young protégée. Edward remembers a knowledgeable and jovial bartender who made the best Manhattan in town.

Roger Baylor got to know Max when he was working at a liquor store in New Albany, Indiana. Max lived in New Albany and would stop in the store to talk shop with Roger’s boss. Eventually, Roger and Max struck up a friendship. Before getting into the microbrew business with his New Albanian Brew Company, Roger was affiliated with the local Home Brew Club. Max was a member, too, and over the years, Roger came to know the man behind the bartender.

People in Louisville still talk about Max Allen Jr. This is our toast to the man, his craft, and a well-made Manhattan. Cheers, Max.

NOTE: Two interviews, Edward Winfield (fellow bartender) and Roger Baylor (acquaintance), are featured on this page.

PHOTO: Max Allen Jr. tending bar at the Seelbach Hilton, 1998, courtesy of Louisville Courier-Journal. Used with permission.

Date of interview:
2008-01-16 00:00

Amy Evans

Amy Evans

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The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.


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