Lazy Louisville Evening
I've really come to love Louisville over the years, but as anyone in Kentucky will tell you: it's like another country compared to the rest of the state. Less conservative than say Lexington or Bardstown, it's become a beacon for urban-oriented Kentuckians who value the perks of big city living while maintaining a bit of that small town Americana feel. It's for that reason—just like we're seeing in San Francisco—that businesses (and distilleries) are moving back into the Louisville center. Tourism is up. Whiskey Row is coming back to life. People want the amenities of city life, and travellers from all over the country are being attracted and pulled by Louisville's charm, history, and eclectic offerings—much of which, of course, is centered around Bourbon. We kicked off our final evening in town by meeting up with my old pal Joe Heron for a few gin and tonics in the Copper & Kings distillery courtyard. The weather was warm and somewhat balmy, and by that point Julio and I were craving anything cold and refreshing without whiskey in it.
Having your mindset challenged and changed is a big part of traveling. Hell, I might say it's the best part. Not only does leaving your own backyard allow for introspection, meeting people with different points of view is vital to discovering more about what's possible in our world. Joe was making gin and tonics with his own Copper & Kings gin, a product made more for his own consumption needs than to be sold. "We're focusing on brandy; there are already too many people making gin," he told me, waving off the idea of expanding production. "But Joe," I said contradicting him, "I think this is the best thing you've ever distilled! I could drink this every day! Sometimes you have to go with what works." Distilled from apples, the clean and savory herbs meshed beautifully with the slight fruitiness of the spirit, lifted by the small bubbles in the tonic. While I love the C&K brandies and respect some of the unique offerings Joe's coming out with, the gin to me stood out as a sure-fire hit. I felt like Carl Weathers in Happy Gilmore telling Adam Sandler to give up hockey and focus on golf. After a great hour of conversation, Joe dropped us off down the road on Frankfort Ave where Julio and I hit the night life. The open air Varanese had live jazz music flowing into the neon night.
We took the advise of a few friends and moseyed over to the Silver Dollar, a well-stocked bar that does a fantastic job of maintaining a small-town feel with a number of big-city options. We pulled up a stool at the bar and set to ordering.
The Bourbon was flowing fast and freely into the late hours of the evening. With a menu full of deep cuts, Julio and I managed to snag a few glasses of greatest hits, like the 2013 "125th Anniversary edition" of the Four Roses LE Small Batch. After a too many shots and too many beers, we stumbled back to the Seelbach, but not before snagging a bag of chips and a few bottles of water to protect our stomachs against what was surely coming.
Louisville is a great time. Especially if you love Bourbon. But even if you don't.