It’s the LEO’s Bourbon Issue, when my keyboard-punching brethren and I work to outline and detail all things that pertain to Kentucky’s amber elixir, from history to current happenings to where the delicious deals may be. Since I consider myself a bit of a pro when it comes to traipsing around town and sampling our nation’s native spirit, I’ve decided to provide you with some of my current bourbon-soaked favorites, from cocktails to crazy-good deals. Starting brunch with a hankering for bourbon? I got you. Need a service industry special that includes a solid Old Fashioned? On it. Looking for the cheapest shot of Old Forester on a Tuesday evening? Don’t fret. This barkeep is here, bourbon edition.
I’m going to go out on a buzzy limb here and say that Chik’n & Mi is my absolute favorite restaurant in Louisville at the moment. Housed in that hexagonal building on lower Brownsboro Road that’s been a bust location for each of its previous concepts, Chik’n & Mi seems to have broken the building curse with its impeccable food and drink delights. Everything that owners Jason and Aenith McCollum churn out of their humble kitchen turns to gold, and that goes for bar manager, Lucas Worley, as well. At brunch this past weekend, I had my first ever Bloody Mary made with bourbon (gasp!). When I ordered the “Killer Queen,” Worley promptly told me it’s actually better with bourbon, so I took this drinksmith’s advice. Made with a house kimchi bloody mix, bourbon or vodka, and a stacked sword of pickled accouterments including Brussels sprouts, beet and kimchi, this tall libation punches the tongue with spice, sour, and a bit of sweet heat from the bourbon. While the Killer Queen may not be for the faint of heart, it’s boldness pairs perfectly with the sweet subtlety of Chik’n & Mi’s mango beignet fritters.
Service industry folk are always looking for a place to imbibe where they may throw us a bone and give us some deals on the nights we get to move to the other side of the bar, and I’ve found a local Louisville gem that does just that. Butchertown Social, formerly Louis’s the Ton (rebranded in May under their new owner, Isaiah Hoagland), hosts Industry Night at its Butchertown public house every Tuesday, which boasts stellar deals on canned beer, Fernet Branca, and even Green Chartreuse. The real star of the show is the $3 Old Forester and the $5 Old Fashioned (Pecan Nut Brown Beer Syrup, Old Forester, bitters, orange peel), and one doesn’t even have to be in the industry to partake. Specials at “B-Sosh” (as my friend, Jess, lovingly calls it) even extend beyond Tuesday, as Thursdays are Wine Night ($10 bottles), and Happy Hour lands between 4-6 each day ($2 All Day IPA’s? Yes, please). That $3 Old Forester, though, almost can’t be beat. Or can it?
Every time a night of questionable decisions and good friends lands me at the jukebox at Air Devils Inn, I wonder why I don’t frequent this delightfully dingy dive soaked in Bowman Field history (and sometimes regret) more often. It’s probably because of those questionable decisions that it takes me a while to darken their doors once again, but each time I do, I’m shocked at how incredibly affordable ADI always turns out to be. This past Monday, after trying the new Gravely Brewing Co. on Baxter Avenue, my friends and I wanted something a little stiffer than craft beer. We meandered into Air Devils, and I ordered us a round: four Old Foresters and a shot of tequila for my non-bourbon drinking friend, Adrian. “Fourteen dollars,” the kind gentleman behind the bar said, as I passed out highball glasses to my comrades behind me. At roughly $2.80 per drink, I handed him a $20 and giggled, “Yep, shit’s gonna get weird tonight.”
If, for some strange reason you’re tired of, or too hungover to keep drinking the barrel-aged stuff, don’t forget, you can always eat it in this town. Art Eatables Small-Batch Bourbon Truffles (infused with various small batch bourbons, from Elijah Craig to Very Old Barton) are found on South Fourth Street and are practically sinful. Or, indulge in the pork chop at the iconic Bourbon’s Bistro, soaked in a bourbon veal demi-glace. Lastly, Gary’s on Spring may have the most delectable bourbon bread pudding, soaked in a warm bourbon crème sauce (with rotating flavors). This barkeep’s advice, though, is to always wash it down with the good stuff. Cheers!