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.
Lover of travel to charming places dusted with unique flavor. Join me as I explore the world sip by sip. Cheers!