Loving Louisville: Bourbon, Beer, and Barrel-Aged Everything

I recently returned from a quick trip to Louisville, Kentucky with General Electrics where we checked out their new Monogram Professional Appliances. The afternoon we arrived, we saw this neon sign in a shop window which perfectly illustrates the myriad ways people pronounce “Louisville”. And everyone has an opinion about the right way. Trying to impress the locals, I settled on an (admittedly) awkward mix of #1 and #2, which provided endless laughter for my friends every time I said it.

Not surprisingly, we ate incredible food including a dinner at the Brown Hotel. We enjoyed course after course of spectacular food ending with a “Hot Brown” (far right) which is an open-faced sandwich with turkey, bacon, and topped with Mornay (like béchamel) sauce. The whole shebang is baked and broiled until crispy. Totally delicious, but a gut-buster. Though I read that you can make a “veggie brown” using avocado instead of meat!

Kentucky has definitely joined the craft beer revolution, so my friend Brian and I stopped for a few tasters at the Bluegrass Brewing Company and Against the Grain Brewery & Smokehouse (where they even have smoked beers!). The beers were excellent, but the Southern hospitality was truly memorable. The waitresses at both establishments were incredibly friendly servers cum tour guides. They were proud of the city (as they should be) and it showed. We left Bluegrass Brewing Company with a long list of places to visit on the back of our receipt…I didn’t have the heart to tell her we’d be there less than 24 hours!

I’m not a huge fan of dark liquor, but it wouldn’t be a trip to Kentucky without a little bourbon. And Kentuckians do love their bourbon…with a passion. It grew on me during this trip too, particularly Blanton’s. I had it in a bourbon-based cocktail at the Brown Hotel where we were staying.

We also toured Bourbon Barrel Foods which makes gourmet food products “that reflect the rich heritage of Kentucky’s Bourbon Country”. Their philosophy can be summed up in three words: “Slow, Small, Simple.” They barrel-age everything from soy sauce and sorghum to vanilla and spices. Their soy sauce has a cult following all over the U.S. and apparently Chef Eric Ripert orders gallon after gallon of their sorghum for his restaurant.

As I briefly toured Louisville, I kept saying to people, “I knew Lousiville would be good, but I didn’t know it would be this good!” There is so much yet to explore, taste, and try; I can’t wait to go back! KFC’s Colonel Sanders is buried in a cemetery in Louisville. Surely I can convince my fried chicken-loving husband to make a pilgrimage to his grave and while we’re there hit the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.


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  1. Angie says

    Wow, barrell-aged vanilla sounds intriguing! Did you try The Brown Hotel’s Chocolate Striptease dessert? I hear it is delicious and it comes out flaming with Bacardi Rum.

  2. Traci B. says

    Louisville is my hometown – glad you got to experience a little of our hospitality – come back anytime and let us show you why our city is one of the best kept secrets in the nation!!!!

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