Inspirations: Aaron Roethke

Donna Ison


Meet a man who brings his special brand of enthusiasm and entrepreneurship to his inviting liquor store and bar... where every hour is happy!

On the front door of Happy Hour Liquor Store and Bar, you can expect to see a Heaven Hill bourbon-barrel mezuzah, made by the Bourbon Rabbi, as a testament to owner Aaron Rothke’s proud Jewish heritage. And when you step inside, you can expect to be greeted with excitement, expertise, and respect. 

L’chaim [to life]!

Rothke says, “I want to make buying alcohol fun and provide a connoisseur’s level of service to everyone.” He adds, “I’d love to shake people’s hands and give out more hugs, but COVID is to be taken seriously.” 

Though originally from Chicago, Rothke loves bourbon like a born and bred Kentuckian—in moderation. He states, “Judaism encourages people to drink in moderation; doing it in the proper way, on kosher alcohol with a blessing, is a mitzvah [good deed].” He encourages his patrons to embrace and enjoy their personal preferences. “My business motto is ‘what you like to drink is the right thing to drink. And, the way you like to drink your drink of choice is the right way to drink it. L’chaim [to life]’.”

Armed with an MBA from the University of Kentucky, Rothke purchased the store from its previous owners in August with the goal of offering both a superior selection and sophisticated spot to sip your favorite spirit. In addition to running a burgeoning business, Rothke holds offices with several local organizations, including president of Jewish Advocacy of Kentucky (JAK); chair of Walk MS Lexington; board member at Knit It Forward; and vice president of Jewish Federation of the Bluegrass. It is no wonder he is finding his biggest challenge to be... balance. He says, “Entrepreneurship comes with lots of hours, so balance in life is important… exercise, rest, to not get burnt out.” 

In both his business and personal life, Rothke strives to promote unity and working together to solve problems. He explains, “I love combating antisemitism no matter what side or where it comes from, and making Kentucky a better place for Jewish people—and all people—to live. And, as both my parents are or were psychologists, I love making people feel warm, welcome, invited, and confident in being themselves.”