This past November I flew to Louisville, Kentucky for my first visit to Bourbon country. I didn’t quite know what to expect, but I gotta say that I absolutely fell in love with it. Everything about this city is incredible and the people are so friendly! I was there with a group of other writers and photographers and it was a short weekend trip so I wasn’t able to see or do everything I might have wanted to do on my own. That definitely doesn’t mean that I didn’t have a great time. Not in the least!
After my very short flight (I’m talking less than an hour and a half) from O’Hare, I took a nice uber ride to my hotel with a former professional jockey as my driver. Talk about a perfect welcome to Louisville! I checked into the Aloft Hotel in Downtown Louisville, got ready, and made my way downstairs to meet the rest of the group at Corner Restaurant & Bar for a cocktail before dinner. Most of the group decided to try “The Fall of Ichabod” made by Christopher Forrester and Ryan Day for the Crane on Main cocktail contest that had just occurred prior to our arrival. First of all, what a name for a fall cocktail! Second, it tasted just like fall in a glass. So delicious! Third, these two gentlemen could not have been nicer or better bartenders if they tried! We were off to a good start.
Our "The Fall Of Ichabod" cocktail made by Mr. Forrester and the Bowtie Bartender won first place in the Crane on Main cocktail contest. We'll share the details of the cocktail tomorrow. . . . #aloftlouisville #cornerlou #tastelouisville #sharelouisville #igerslouisville #whiskeyrow #drinks #louisville #kentucky #louisvilleky #downtownlouisville #happyhour #bourbon #bourbonlove #bartenders #mixology #bar #mixologist #cocktail
After our cocktails, we were chauffeured to dinner by Mint Julep Tours. Upon our arrival at Harvest, a farm-to-table restaurant (could you guess by the name?), we sat down for an old-fashioned making class. I LOVE a good old-fashioned, and I think Louisville might know how to make one. Needless to say, it was tasty and now I’m armed with the knowledge for life! Drink in hand, it was time to order dinner.
Now I need to pause here and tell you that one my favorite foods in the whole wide world is fried chicken. Always has been, always will be. I’m talking Top 3. So, since I was in Kentucky, I wasn’t NOT going to order the fried chicken. And I must say…Harvest had some damn good buttermilk fried chicken! I may or may not have shed a little tear.
As much as I would’ve loved to stay at Harvest and eat and drink all night, I was REALLY excited about our next stop! We left for Iroquois Park to catch one of the last nights of the Louisville Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular. It was hands down one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen! We walked along a 1/4 mile trail that was illuminated with over 5,000 carved pumpkins, all while drinking hot apple cider. It was absolutely perfect. I truly wish these photos did it justice, but alas they do not. You’ll either have to take my word for it or head there next year because it’s so cool! Here are some of my favorite jack-o-lanterns out of the many that we saw:
Full disclosure, I drank a lot of bourbon after we got back from seeing the pumpkins. Day two did not start off very well for me. I couldn’t even smell bourbon the next morning but alas, we were headed to a couple distilleries so I pulled it together (kind of).
First stop was Angel’s Envy. This was honestly one of the most beautiful facilities I have ever laid my eyes on. You could tell that they put every ounce of their love into making the best bourbon they can. I did try a little of it, and I do have to say it was one of the best that I’ve personally ever had. I also really love their name because (fun fact) “angel’s share” is the amount of alcohol that evaporates during the aging process. Angel’s Envy loses about 5% per each of the 6 years they age their bourbon and what is left over, they say is worth the envy of angels. Love that!
Next we took a ride over to the Stitzel-Weller Distillery to partake in the Bulleit Experience. Holy cow, this was interesting. The facility itself was opened in 1935 and reopened to the public in 2014. It is currently home to 18 warehouses that combined have the capacity to store 300,000 barrels. This tour is a must see, particularly if you love history as much as I do. If you do go, be sure to say hi to Perry at the gate. He’s worked there for over 45 years!
Our next stop was Churchill Downs. Yes, the Churchill Downs. In case you live under a rock (or just don’t like horse racing), this is where the Kentucky Derby is held. I was pretty excited to see it even though I’m not personally that pumped about horses racing each other. And no, I did not place a bet on any of the horses, but I was surprised to learn that it wasn’t as confusing as I thought it would be.
After walking around and snapping a few shots, I went back to the hotel to take a nap before the evening’s festivities.
Dinner that evening was at Proof on Main inside of the 21c Hotel. If you’ve never been inside of a 21c hotel, they’re basically hotels disguised as art museums. Or art museums disguised as hotels? Either way, they’re very cool. I was really into the restaurant, too. Fantastic service, delicious and inventive dishes, and gorgeous decor.
Following the conclusion of our meal, we walked over to the see the Louisville Orchestra perform “The Greatest: Muhammad Ali” composed by their conductor Teddy Abrams. It was incredibly moving, and I am so grateful that we were there to see it!
Our last day in Louisville began with breakfast at Gralehaus, a cool Bed & Breakfast located in the Highlands area. The neighborhood is filled with Victorian style homes and this restaurant was in one of those homes. So pretty! I had the pork hash and shared the duck biscuits and gravy. It was the perfect start of the day.
After breakfast we went over to the Cave Hill Cemetery and Arboretum to pay our respects to Muhammad Ali at his resting place. Autumn is my favorite time of year and we were lucky enough to be here during peak foliage. So beautiful!
Before heading out of town we walked across the Ohio River on the Big Four Bridge to Jeffersonville, Indiana for some Parlour Pizza. We were treated to more foliage on the other side of the river. It was a beautiful way to end the trip!
For more information about Louisville and what to do and see while you’re there, be sure to head to gotolouisville.com!