Bar Belle: Bourbon trailblazer
Inspired by the Olympics, I figured I’d set out to accomplish my own kind of amazing feat this weekend in the form of the Urban Bourbon Trail. I’ve been working on completing the trail for years — and either lost my passport or cut myself off from bourbon consumption (which happens often). One of this year’s New Year’s resolutions was to finally finish the damn trail, and with the help of the friendly folks at the Marriott, who offered me a place to crash for the night, my friend and I nabbed the gold medal of bourbon drinking Friday night.
But first, a quick explanation. Developed by the city’s tourism department, the Urban Bourbon Trail is a passport of 20 selected bars around the city (with 50 or more bourbons). You pick one up at the Visitor’s Center downtown and get it stamped each time you visit a stop. Once you collect at least six stamps, you can turn it in for a free T-shirt and certificate. In an effort to prove you can accomplish said task in one night, I put my liver to the test and managed to collect eight stamps — all in the downtown area, since I was on foot. It can be done, but it isn’t pretty.
We started our challenge at Blu in the Marriott with a bourbon flight (Corner Creek, Rowan’s Creek, Kentucky Vintage) and lots of advice from bartender Clare. She imparted her wisdom (“drink lots of water”), wished us luck, and shoved us out the door (“The clock is ticking, ladies!”). We figured we needed a good, solid meal, so we headed to Dish on Market for their bourbon and burger combo ($10). I had a Makers 46 Manhattan (yum!). So far, so good.
The next stop was Proof on Main, which was busy with fancy folks and stragglers left over from happy hour. My friend and I had the Gold Rush (Old Forester, honey, lemon juice) and sucked them down effortlessly. The bartender explained how to make them at home, but she lost us at “boil.” We walked out of there assured this was going to be an easy assignment. “We’re almost to the fourth bar and we don’t even have a buzz!” I said. Onward to Jockey Silks in the Galt House — my favorite stop of the night — where we found Woodford Reserve Manhattans for $5! Read that sentence again. After paying more than $10 for the Gold Rush at Proof, a $5 Woodford made our wallets happy. And bartender Justin gave us the lowdown on those metal horses on top of Blanton’s bottles.
We were so cocky by this point, we decided to add another stop to our itinerary of seven — Doc Crow’s. It wasn’t even 10 p.m. yet — this was going to be a breeze. Perhaps one of my biggest mistakes of the night, I had the Bourbini — Kentucky Tavern, peach liqueur, peach bitters and Brut champagne. Let’s just say those bubbles stirred up troubles. Back on our agenda, we headed to Fourth Street to hit the Brown, Seelbach and Maker’s Mark Lounge. This is where things get fuzzy.
We stopped in at the Old Seelbach Bar where we ordered a Bulleit Rye Manhattan and were delighted to get three cherries. We made friends with a drunk lady from Cincinnati and the nice bartender who was keeping an eye on her (“She’s already had to be carried up to her room once before,” he said). Crazy Buckeyes. We hurried through our drink and started our journey to the Brown Hotel. I decided to have my first mint julep of the night, which was definitely on the weak side. Perhaps my taste buds were ragged by this point, but it tasted like I was drinking from the teat of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man … er, Woman. I asked to buy another shot of Maker’s to add in, but the suspicious bartender denied my request. I didn’t like her so much at the moment. So on to the last stop …
… which is where my memory checked out. Fortunately, I know we made it, because I have the stamp, the receipt and a Facebook posting as proof. The Maker’s Mark Lounge … what can I say? It was probably a really delicious drink, and I can assure you that we were quiet and polite Southern belles who refrained from making vulgar gestures to the giant phallic Hard Rock guitar. Luckily, our room was only a block away. The rest of the evening’s shenanigans will remain between me and housekeeping, but I woke up thirsty, hungry and ready to claim my prize. After we located our wallets, IDs, passports and sanity, we walked a block over to the Visitor’s Center and got our damn T-shirts.
Mom is proud. My liver’s on strike.
Drunk Texts of the Week
• Theres no lollygagging on the Trail!
• I feel like im trapped in a cage with a wild republican
• I want a bartender with a heavy hand