Local Gems

I remember a time when the hot spot to eat in Louisville was T.G.I. Friday’s. That is like saying the popular beer in town was Miller Lite. But as we celebrate this week’s Craft Beer Week, I believe it is our duty not to simply consume as much local craft beer as possible, but to take a moment and appreciate those beers that have come before us. 

Seriously though, celebrating local craft beers provides us with the opportunity to appreciate how fortunate Louisville is to have so many local gems — in beer, as well as food, arts, entertainment, technology, alternative weeklies (self-plug) and so on. It is part of our culture to be Louisville first, Louisville proud. 
 
There really was a time when I looked forward to Fridays at Friday’s — and Tumbleweed was the “diverse” food restaurant (their queso still dominates). Now Louisville is winning national awards for its cuisine scene. And more routinely, I am catching myself having seminal moments — when it strikes me how fortunate we are. Last Friday was one of those moments.
I was invited to an event at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft titled “Experience the ‘Art of Drink.’” The exhibit, which runs through November 9, is a cross-culture celebration of rituals formed throughout history over the activity of drinking beer, bourbon, wine, tea and coffee. The act of drinking is by nature communal, so it became only natural that the act of drinking becomes the impetus for gathering, sharing of ideas and advancing culture. 
 
Tom Maroni, an artist from San Francisco, was the headline guest for his years of performance-and-installation work, “The Act of Drinking Beer with Friends is the Highest Form of Art.” Since 1970, Maroni has been participating and instigating in the creation of his pieces by drinking free beer with friends and displaying the empty bottles on a wall-mounted rack. He proceeded to use his time at the mic during the “program” to rattle off 10 – 15 minutes of jokes. In essence, we all became art and artists.
 
To that point, I had never set foot in the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, but as soon as I walked in the front door, I had a moment — this is a big-city type of gallery in my hometown. And while the museum itself was worth the couple of hours on a Friday night, I never would have imagined the experience of the event. Comedy and beer — Falls City, another local gem.
 
The night was not over. Stage two of the event was an “after party” at the new Butchertown brandy distillery, Copper and Kings. This was one of those seminal moments. Walking through a breathtaking plaza, the pot-still room, and up to a tasting-penthouse felt like walking through a pre-eminent attraction in a major city. The tasting penthouse felt like a loft apartment in New York or Chicago, but had a walkout balcony that looks back over the Louisville skyline. Copper and Kings will one day become a landmark Louisville site and must-see experience. 
 
In Louisville, a simple Friday night with some artists and local product (beer and brandy) can seem pretty standard. But this is why we are so fortunate and, to a certain extent, spoiled. We have the opportunity to create unique local products and experiences. It has become part of our Louisville culture to endeavor for unique adventures, events, opportunities and industries. 
This is why national figures are taking note of Louisville. For instance, celebrity chef Bobby Flay, who has restaurants from the Bahamas to Las Vegas, Atlantic City and New York, is eyeing Louisville for a new restaurant. 
 
So this note is simply to encourage everyone to push their own Louisville boundaries — strive to have your own seminal moment. It may not be something you would normally consider, but seek out those opportunities and I promise you will be surprised.
 
Louisville was once the home of fried chicken and cigarettes. Now, it is the confluence of food, beverages, art and original experiences that knit the fabric of our city. 
 
A unique experience
In the spirit of seeking out unique events, one special event worth considering is “For All of Us, One Today.” University of Louisville’s [email protected] and LGBT Center are celebrating Latin Heritage month and U of L’s Pride Week with a visit from inaugural poet Richard Blanco. Blanco became the fifth poet to ever read at a presidential inauguration when he read his original poem “One Today” before President Barack Obama in 2013. 
 
The free event, at 7 p.m., Sept. 22 in U of L’s Student Activities Center, will highlight and “honor the contributions of LGBT people in all communities and to recognize the power of 
intersectionality.”