Cheers Sippin Gypsy Team Bourbon! This post comes to you while enjoying my Sippin Gypsy Summer Sour inspired by all the delicious cocktails I tried while visiting bourbon country: Lousiville Kentucky!
Louisville Kentucky is one of those perfectly sized cities. The downtown area is the spot for locals and tourists alike with a wonderful variety of things to do and places for incredible cocktails and cuisine! Staying downtown made it convenient to walk to almost everything, but driving and navigating the city really was also very very easy, and parking was never too challenging (keep in mind I was not there during the Kentucky Derby). While there are several options for well known brand hotels that would be well situated amidst all the action, I love lodging at historic locations to enhance my experience and really saturate myself into the city.
1. The Brown Hotel
Built in the 1920s, The Brown Hotel was designed to impress. Elegant details and a large ball room, the Brown Hotel was the place to be seen. The Brown Hotel stood through some tough times including prohibition and the Great Depression as well as a horrible flood in the 1930s. The Hotel closed briefly in the 1970s just after the passing of Mr. Brown. But the glory of this beautiful hotel would not lay quiet for long. The hotel was sold and remodeled several more times with the most recent acquisition by the 1859 Historic Hotels group. Her lobby is opulent yet inviting and the staff makes everyone feel like a VIP. Part of the fun, in my opinion, of visiting a historic hotel, is the ghost stories that accompany each location. There are rumors that the ghost of Mr. Brown still walks the halls of his hotel and mysterious happenings from the 15th floor, While I wasn't graced with a visit of Mr. Brown please let me know if your visit grants you a glimpse of him!
2. The Seelbach Hotel
This hotel was built with intention of bringing the grandeur of Europe's best hotels to Louisville. Originally built on the outskirts of downtown, The Seelbach is now perfectly situated to give you convenient access to most of the great spots in downtown Louisville. Although this impressive hotel has exchanged ownership several times, each owner and investor thankfully celebrated the opulence and exquisite details of the original owners, two brothers, Louis and Otto Seelbach from Germany. Opening it's doors just in time for the 1905 Kentucky Derby The Seelbach Hotel has remained a name of quality and decadence. This hotel also celebrates it's own resident ghost, The Lady in Blue. While I didn't catch a glimpse of her, several other guests have boasted catching the scent of her perfume or even a brief sighting before she disappears.
3.21c Museum Hotel
In a word: fun. This hotel doubles as an art gallery and makes you rethink what a hotel can offer in contribution to your experiences when traveling. Not only does the hotel offer intriguing and through provoking art displays through the gallery, the adjacent restaurant and bar,Proof on Main is one of the must do spots in Louisville. The rooms are spacious with clean modern lines and unique artwork. No ghost stories really accompany this unique hotel, just a great location and a fun way to rest while experiencing Louisville Kentucky
Cheers Sippin Gypsy Team Whiskey! This post comes to you while enjoying my Sippin Gypsy Mint Julep inspired by my recent road trip through Bourbon Country an Louisville Kentucky!
I was prepared for by visit to Louisville Kentucky. I had been studying the history of Whiskey, specifically Bourbons through Kentucky and Tennessee. Having grown up in the Midwest myself I was excited to see the beautiful stone buildings of the city and surrounding neighborhoods and picturesque country side and bountiful farmland. I expected impressive bars with a stunning variety of the golden hued spirit native to this city. I poured over travel sites and visitor suggestions for where to go for great cocktails and cuisine in the city. What I was NOT prepared for was the cornucopia of truly incredible and creative food offerings. One definitely needs at least four or five days to truly experience Louisville and the surrounding towns. Between the distilleries to visit, neighborhoods to explore and all the restaurants and bars...this city will fill you up. Some of the places I sought out to visit were also part of the Urban Bourbon Trail which a carefully selected group of bars that offer between 50-150 Bourbons and have a well trained staff that can assist in the education of this beautiful spirit. Here are just a few of my favorite spots in Louisville Kentucky!
1. Lobby Bar at the Brown Hotel
The Brown Hotel is a historic landmark in Louisville. Guests indulging here will find opulent details and a warm and inviting staff. The Lobby Bar is available to everyone, not just guests of the hotel, and is one of the locations of the Urban Bourbon Trail. The bar itself is small, but worth getting in front of one of the knowledgeable bartenders here. If you can stay for a while in the evenings, you may be treated to live piano music and can certainly order food as well. The lounge area is absolutely beautiful. This spot would be a great location for a special occasion.
2. Hell Or High Water
I'm a sucker for Speakeasy style bars. But this location was one of the best. There is no sign indicating the bar, just a small room of eclectic art that you can see through the window and glass door and a hostess calming waiting inside. You either need a reservation or to know the password for her to open the wall of art and guide you down a staircase to the basement of the building and into a beautiful bar and lounge. The cocktails are well crafted and live music plays over in the 'library' part of the lounge. Plush opulent seating booths make it the perfect setting for either a romantic date or a fun girls night out.
3. Butchertown Grocery
As far as cuisine in Louisville Kentucky, Butchertown Grocery amazed me. Everything I ordered was impressive in technique and flavor. The cocktails were well crafted and beautiful and the food was incredible. Everything was absolutely delicious, but I had to award the Oyster Mushroom Gnocchi to my "BEST I'VE EVER HAD!" The place was packed, so I took time to wander the neighborhood and enjoy the architecture of the Shotgun Houses along Washington St. before dinner. The restaurant is rustic chic and the lounge upstairs, Lola, is the perfect spot of a romantic nightcap, swanky and moody. Butchertown Grocery definitely needs to be on your 'to do' list for Louisville.
I think if I were to live in Louisville...I would live in the Butchertown neighborhood. Naive was another great spot for great cuisine and cocktails in this charming part of Louisville. This is the type of restaurant that I would love to see replicated in every city around the world. Their commitment to local and sustainable and quality in delivery and presentation amazed me. Everything was so flavorful and creative. My only regret is that I didn't have a bigger stomach to try more! Naive is another 'must do' in Louisville.
5. Proof on Main
This bar had me intrigued from the moment I read about it. Bold and eclectic... From the art that adorns the wall to the creative cocktails and impressive bourbon selection, Proof on Main will forever stay in my memory. This bar is adjacent to the 21c Hotel Louisville with it's own impressive art gallery and fun approach to a hotel's contribution to your travel experience. Don't be too quick to grab a seat at the bar right away...order your drink and stroll through the bar and hotel art gallery. Proof on Main is an experience from sip to sight.
Louisville continued to delight with yet another posh spot for delicious food and well crafted cocktails at Rye. Nestled along a trendy up and coming location along Market St., Rye was another great find that left my mouth happy and belly way too full. This would be a great spot for a casual but nice dinner and definitely a must do for cocktails.
7. The Lounge in The Angel's Envy Distillery
When visiting Bourbon Country, one must tour at least one distillery or storehouse. One of my personal favorite bourbons is Angel's Envy, so it was a give in to visit their downtown distillery and learn more about the brand and the family. I love to support small, local and family owned businesses. It was inspiring hearing about the vision Lincoln Henderson and his son Wes have put into action with the Angel's Envy brand. After your tour of the Angels Envy Distillery, you can relax in the lounge and enjoy creative seasonal cocktails in a rustic but swanky bar. Consider trying the Cocktail Craft Tour where not only do you tour the distillery, but you also learn how to make a cocktail!
8. Art Eatables
I found heaven. It's in a charming little shop in downtown Louisville. There are rows and rows of the smoothest chocolates artfully infused with bourbon. Not only was the shop itself a true gem, with vintage details, but the staff is amazing and proud of their delicious creations and their town. They respectfully pay homage to the great bourbon labels and creatively display the spirit of honor beside each tasty option. This is where you should stock up on gifts and souvenirs!
Harvest was the first farm to table restaurant I uncovered when planning my trip to Louisville. When I arrived into town, everyone had such great things to say about this spot, I was so looking forward to trying Harvest. So delicious. I have really come to appreciate business that commit to supporting local farmers and offering an ever changing menu that offers fresh in season produce. It was truly an added bonus that the cocktails were also delicious and of course respected the local spirit and labels.
Cheers Sippin Gypsy Team Bourbon! This post comes to you while enjoying my Sippin Gypsy Summer Sour, a nod to a Whiskey Sour inspired by road trip this summer and my time in Louisville Kentucky.
Louisville was an absolute delight. The drive through Kentucky was breathtaking with the majesty of the Appalachian Mountains and the beautiful lush farm land, Downtown Louisville was easy to navigate and offered an easy balance of things to do. I highly recommend staying within the city limits. From here you will have a plethora of options within walking distance as well as distilleries and caves and trails just a short drive from the city center. Like most of the Midwest in the United States, Spring is enchanting with flowers blooming and mild temperatures. Fall is crisp and magical with rich hues of gold, red and orange as far as the eye can see. Summer was a great time to visit also with longer days to get out an explore more at a relaxed and easy pace. I would bet Winter would be truly delightful in Louisville. So many beautiful buildings made of stone and brick would be blanketed by snow and accented with twinkling lights. Any season in Louisville is the season for Bourbon. I had always assumed Bourbon was a Fall and Winter spirit, but my mind was changed in this trip. I had more refreshing and delicious cocktails this Summer. I'm hooked... Bourbon is one of my new favorite spirits and Louisville is absolutely one of my new favorite cities. Here are a few of my Quick Tips for what to do while visiting Derby City.
1. Visit a Distillery
One really can't come through Kentucky and not do at least one distillery tour. There are several distilleries directly in Downtown Louisville, and several more in the surrounding towns. I had the privilege of touring Angel's Envy during my time in Louisville. The Angel's Envy brand is family owned and run, with three generations contributing to the success of the product. It was truly insightful to see what an exact science the distilling process is. My guide was Julie, a passionate whiskey lover and an amazing advocate for the craft of her industry. I was taught how to truly taste whiskey and how to acclimate ones pallet to this bold spirit. After the tour I lingered at the Angel's Envy Lounge, a bar just for guests that have completed the tour. This was another incredible experience. The cocktail program was fabulous, with drinks that rotate seasonally and celebrate bourbon.
2. Explore Downtown Louisville by way of the Urban Bourbon Trail
Several swanky spots throughout Downtown Louisville offer anywhere from 50 to over 150 bourbons along with a bar staff that is well trained and passionate about bourbon and the spirit's history. Your participation in the Urban Bourbon Trail experience begins with obtaining your passport at either the visitors center or any of the distilleries and bars that participate. As you visit each location, you get a stamp to fill your bourbon passport. Not only does this make for a fun trek through some of the best spots for a cocktail in Louisville, it also offers fun prizes based on how many stamps you obtain. I chose not to redeem my passport for anything...the experience was truly my prize. I met some amazing locals and learned a lot more about the bourbon houses and found some great places for memorable cocktails and cuisine.
3. Stroll through Historic Louisville
Louisville was once one of the richest cities in the United States. Its location along the Ohio river and central location in the country made it an ideal city to base a business. Many millionaires and business tycoons built mansions all near each other. These impressive structures from the mid to late 1800s have been lovingly restored and preserved. Some have a dark past. Local Louisville author David Domine has cataloged his research in the hauntings of Louisville in several books. I enjoyed reading "Ghosts of Old Louisville" before my visit here, and as I strolled the beautiful homes along 2nd and 3rd Streets and around Central Park, I referenced his book for a recap of the spiritual encounters at select addresses. You can also tour the Conrad-Caldwell House Museum for a glimpse into the past in this facinating neighborhood.
4. Louisville Slugger Museum
If you are a sports fan, specifically baseball, you will certainly make this pilgrimage to the museum and factory that produces the famed baseball bat: The Louisville Slugger. If you are not a baseball fan, you can still visit the museum and factory that produces the famed weapon that Carrie Underwood procures in her girl power anthem "Before He Cheats". Either way, baseball is an American classic, and the Louisville Slugger has been apart of the journey for centuries.
5. Enjoy the Waterfront and Big Four Bridge
Louisville has built up a beautiful walking park along the river and it culminates at the Big Four Bridge, an old bridge build for trains but converted to the biggest pedestrian bridge that spans the full width of the Ohio River and allows you to walk from Kentucky to Indiana and back again. Pack a picnic and enjoy a relaxing lunch and stroll across the bridge. Or visit at night for a beautiful light display accross the bridge with Downtown Louisville as a backdrop.
5. The Kentucky Derby
There are times when you travel to a new location in the off season so you can enjoy a slower pace and not be bombarded with the pomp and circumstance of what often becomes a marketing frenzie with over stimulated tourists that flock to a destination all at one particular date often diminishing your cultural experience. Other times you honor what has put a city on the event calendar map. Louisville is known for the Kentucky Derby hosted at Churchill Downs. Ladies dress to impress with stunning hats and facinators... people place bets on the prized horse and everyone sips Mint Juleps and other bourbon cocktails. The Kentucky Derby is hosted every spring, and in the Midwest United States, this means beautiful blossoms, lush green lawns and a vigor in the air of a city ready to crawl out of the snowy slumber and enjoy the warm sunshine. While my most recent visit to Louisville did not include a visit to the Derby and Churchill Downs, after hearing the passion and pride of locals, I will be planning my future visit to Kentucky to incorporate visiting Louisville the weekend of the Derby.
6. Stroll through Butchertown
Charming Shotgun style architecture, street art, Copper and Kings Distillery and some of the best cuisine I enjoyed in Louisville were all within the Butchertown neighborhood. Make a day of this delightful corner of Louisville and stay for dinner at Butchertown Grocery or Naive and have a drink at Odeon.
Cheers Sippin Gypsy travelers! Below are links to my Quick Tips for Restin', Sippin' and Playin' in the beautiful city of Louisville Kentucky!
Cheers Sippin Gypsy Team Whiskey! This cocktail is inspired by my recent road trip this summer and visiting Atlanta Georgia and Louisville Kentucky and the incredible experience at 18.21 Bitters and along the Urban Bourbon Trail through Downtown Louisville. Bourbon has recently been a new indulgence to my pallet. With one of the most fun tasting experiences ever at the 18.21 Bitters Kitchen in Atlanta to find some fun bitters and syrups and a truly amazing and insightful tour of the Angels Envy Distillery in Louisville, I have been educated in the tumultuous and enthralling history of Whiskey resulting in a new favorite spirit to sip….Bourbon.
2 oz. Bourbon or favorite Whiskey
1 1/2 oz Watermelon Mint Shrub by 18.21 Bitters
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Place three ice cubes in your tin shaker with all the ingredients and shake vigorously untill you do not hear the ice anymore and the liquid is frothy.
Pour into your favorite glass and garnish
Lover of travel to charming places dusted with unique flavor. Join me as I explore the world sip by sip. Cheers!