Louisville in Kentucky has reinvented itself as a lively, offbeat cultural melting pot on the Ohio River. Here, warehouses have been converted and used as local breweries, antique shops and the city’s hippest restaurants. It’s a great place to spend a noisy and full weekend.
Louisville is famous for its Bourbon and this is the traditional place to hit the Bourbon Trail. There seems to be a current wave of popularity for Bourbon, where small new micro-distilleries, including some in and around Louisville like the small-batch Angel’s Envy, are giving the old names in bourbon a run for their money.
We decided to take the Urban Bourbon Trail which is a culinary and cocktail experience in Louisville that features 19 bars and restaurants. One has to go and buy a ‘passport’, which can be picked up at the Visitors Center or at any of the stops on the trail. After receiving six stamps on the passport, guests collect a free Urban Bourbon Trailblazer T-shirt.
With its strategic location on the Ohio River, Louisville was once the epicenter of the bourbon world in the past. Now the city is stirring up a brand-new cocktail of bourbon-flavoured entertainment aimed at reclaiming, and celebrating, its historical past.
Main Street, which was once known as “Whiskey Row,” is coming alive again. An Indianapolis firm will design a bourbon district along 14 blocks of Main Street that will eventually mix bourbon bars, visitor experiences and even a couple of micro-distilleries. Lucky for us a group of investors is developing a block of historic buildings saved from demolition in the 100 block of Main with the promise of bourbon-related tenants. And both Michter’s and Heaven Hill have announced plans to open visitor centers on Main Street that will include boutique distilleries.
One can start with Dish on Market’s “President’s Breakfast” — egg, toast, bacon, fruit and a shot of bourbon, said to be what President Harry Truman had every morning following a walk.
Plus it is a known fact that Kentucky distillers produce about 95% of the world’s supply of bourbon, following the strict guidelines set forth in a federal law passed in 1964 that declared it a distinctive product of the United States. Bourbon must be made of a grain mixture that is at least 51% corn and aged in new, charred white-oak barrels. No flavourings or colourings can be added, only water.
Kentucky also sets aside the first Saturday in May to witness the ‘greatest two minutes in sports,’ the Kentucky Derby. The Kentucky Derby is also called "The Run for the Roses" for the blanket of roses draped over the winner. Many race goers descend on Kentucky especially for the Derby.
No visit to Louisville is complete without a visit to Bardstown Road which is a stretch of road in Louisville that is home to the largest number of original restaurants, oddity shops, and hole-in-the-wall bars in the city. Bardstown Road is a popular nightlife spot for locals as well as one of the best places in the city to get something to eat at any time of the day.
What most people refer to as Bardstown Road actually starts around Phoenix Hill Tavern. The Phoenix Hill Tavern is the oldest nightclub in the city and is in reality a two-story club house with five different bars, each offering a different type of music or entertainment. Also on Baxter Avenue look out for Wick's, one of the best pizza restaurants in the city.
And check out the coolest hotel in town which is 21c Museum Hotel, an edgy contemporary hotel with scissor chandeliers and loft-like rooms.