Tag Archives: Louisville

Go For the Food: Bourbon in Louisville

In Kentucky’s bourbon country, the classic American whiskey isn’t just for sipping anymore.

Restaurants stretching along the Urban Bourbon Trail in Louisville are creating bourbon-inspired sauces and glazes to jazz up main courses, side dishes and desserts. The 6-year-old bourbon cocktail and culinary experience has grown to 34 establishments, adding more zest to the city’s nightlife.

The trail’s growth is part of a bourbon revival both nationally and in Kentucky’s largest city, where whiskey-making dates back to the late 1700s and where a portion of Main Street known as “Whiskey Row” was once home to as many as 50 distilleries before Prohibition.

Louisville touts itself as the gateway to bourbon country, and for many visitors the restaurants and bars are part of a day-night bourbon experience.

During the day, they tour distilleries about an hour or less away in rural Kentucky, where iconic bourbons such as Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, Wild Turkey, Woodford Reserve and Four Roses are crafted. At night, they flock to Louisville’s bars and restaurants where bourbon is a main course.

“It’s a perfect complement to our Kentucky Bourbon Trail tour, since you get to savor the authentic distillery experience by day and then enjoy the cosmopolitan allure of the Urban Bourbon Trail at dusk,” said Eric Gregory, president of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association. “Many of our guests use Louisville as their home base to enjoy their unique hotels, nightlife and culinary scene.”

The bars are well-stocked — many establishments are typically stocked with anywhere from 50 to 150 varieties of Kentucky’s signature spirit — and the bourbon-inspired dishes are as varied as the whiskeys crafted by Kentucky’s master distillers.

At St. Charles Exchange, there’s an appetizer dubbed Elvis on Horseback — bacon-wrapped, peanut butter-stuffed dates with bourbon-banana vinaigrette. The Brussels sprouts at Marketplace restaurant feature bourbon-sorghum hoisin and almond. Lilly’s serves up pork rib-eye with pork shoulder, summer succotash and grilled peach bourbon coulis. At Sidebar at Whiskey Row, the “Hung Jury” burger is layered with bourbon mushrooms and onions.

For dessert, options include Derby Cafe’s Kentucky bread pudding with bourbon sauce and whipped cream. The “Wilbur sundae” at Doc Crow’s includes brown butter praline ice cream with a bourbon caramel ribbon atop cinnamon pork rinds, sprinkled with candied bacon and topped with a bourbon cherry.

The vast array of bourbons offered at the bars includes hard-to-get whiskeys. Bourbons Bistro, a founder of the Urban Bourbon Trail, features an average of 125 regular bourbons, 20 to 25 reserve bourbons, and 35 rye whiskeys.

The Vernon Club, a bourbon bar housed in a bowling alley, keeps 300 bourbons on the menu. Its offerings of rare bourbons include Michter’s 20 Year Old Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey, the cultishly popular Pappy Van Winkle bourbons, and Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection Four Wood.

At the Old Seelbach Bar, customers can sip a smooth single-barrel bourbon or a classic cocktail at a restored bar from the early 1900s. The bar is a big draw at The Seelbach Hilton Hotel, a stately fixture in downtown Louisville. Author F. Scott Fitzgerald used The Seelbach as a backdrop for Tom and Daisy Buchanan’s wedding in “The Great Gatsby,” and the hotel was a favorite hangout for Al Capone.

Many of the restaurants and bars on the Urban Bourbon Trail are a short walk from some of the city’s main attractions, including the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory and the Muhammad Ali Center. Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, is a short drive away.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said the trail has spiked the city’s status as a year-round tourist attraction. A half-dozen new downtown hotels are either planned or being built, and several micro-distilleries will start production in the next couple of years, he said.

“It’s been great for the economy, and good for the spirit of the city,” the mayor said.

If You Go…

URBAN BOURBON TRAIL: Louisville, Kentucky; http://www.bourboncountry.com/things-to-do/urban-bourbon-trail/index.aspx

ST. CHARLES EXCHANGE: 13 S. Seventh St., Louisville, 502-618-1917, http://stcharlesexchange.com/

MARKETPLACE: 651 S. Fourth St., Louisville, 502-625-3001, http://www.theatersquaremarketplace.com/

LILLY’S: 1147 Bardstown Road, Louisville, 502-451-0447, http://www.lillyslapeche.com/

SIDEBAR AT WHISKEY ROW: 129 S. Second St., Louisville, 502-384-1600, http://www.sidebarwhiskeyrow.com/

DERBY CAFE: 704 Central Ave., Louisville, 502-637-1111, http://www.derbymuseum.org/derby-cafe.html

DOC CROW: 127 W. Main Street, Louisville, 502-587-1626, http://doccrows.com/

BOURBONS BISTRO: 2255 Frankfort Ave., Louisville, 502-894-8838, http://www.bourbonsbistro.com/Bourbons/home.html

VERNON CLUB: 1575 Story Ave., Louisville, 502-584-8460, http://www.vernonclub.com/

OLD SEELBACH BAR: At the Seelbach Hilton, 500 S. Fourth St., Louisville, 800-333-3399, http://www.seelbachhilton.com/03_b_dining.php 

Tiny Appalachian city enacts gay rights ordinance

A tiny city in southeastern Kentucky has enacted an LGBT rights ordinance that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

The city commission of Vicco in southern Perry County passed the new law on Jan. 14. The population, according to the last census, is 334 people.

A statement from the Fairness Coalition, an affiliation of Kentucky groups that focuses on gay rights, says the Appalachian town is the fourth city in the state to pass a law aimed at protecting gays from discrimination.

Three of four commissioners voted in favor of the ordinance, which bans discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations in the city.

City attorney Eric Ashley says the community believes all people should be treated fairly.

The Fairness Coalition says Louisville, Lexington and Covington have passed similar anti-discrimination ordinances.

Meanwhile, an effort to pass an LGBT civil rights law at the state level has stalled in Kentucky House of Representatives.

“The commonwealth of Kentucky was the first state south of the Mason-Dixon line to pass a civil rights act, the Kentucky Civil Rights Act of 1966,” stated Kentucky Equality Federation president Jordan Palmer. “The Kentucky Civil Rights Act was signed into law by Gov. Edward T. Breathitt, and prohibits discrimination and protects people from discrimination based on race, national origin, color and religion.”

Since then, the civil rights law has been amended and expanded, but repeated efforts to include sexual orientation and gender identity failed.

Palmer said, “I urge the commonwealth’s lawmakers to willfully place Kentucky back in the forefront of civil rights… .If our lawmakers want to show Kentucky sovereignty and freedom, do it now before the order to do so is handed down by the courts.”

Anti-gay Catholic group forms in Kentucky to promote ‘chaste living’

A group that preaches chastity among gays and lesbians is starting a local chapter in Louisville, Ky., with the backing of Archbishop Joseph Kurtz.

Kurtz says the Connecticut-based group known as Courage has a goal to “promote chaste living” by abstaining from sex outside of a heterosexual marriage. The group was founded in 1980.

Kurtz claimed the goal is “both to promote the dignity of every human being and promote chaste living.”

The Courier-Journal reports the meetings usually consist of 5-10 men. The chapter meetings operate under the 12 Step concept used by Alcoholics Anonymous. Steps include such things as admitting one’s addiction or compulsion, striving for moral reform and seeking help from a higher power.

Angelo Sabella, an assistant to the national director of the group, said Courage does not conduct therapy that seeks to “change” a person’s sexual orientation. But he said the group has invited advocates for so-called “ex-gay” therapy to talk with Courage groups.

The director of a gay rights group in Louisville says Courage is asking gays and lesbians to suppress part of their identity.

“It’s repressive and really unhealthy for people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, to suggest one can suppress an entire part of who they are,” said Fairness Campaign director Chris Hartman, who is Catholic.

Courage has more than 100 chapters worldwide.

Petitioners demand reinstatement of gay Scout leader

A petition drive to reinstate a Louisville, Ky., Boy Scout leader who said he was forced to resign because he is gay has gathered more than 3,000 signatures.

Greg Bourke, who had volunteered with the organization for five years, stepped down recently after the pastor at the church where his troop meets said the facility might lose its Scouting charter if he stayed.

A Boy Scouts policy enacted in 1991 and reaffirmed in July doesn’t allow gays to join. Bourke said after the affirmation, he wrote to Boy Scout executives asking whether he was still welcome was told he didn’t meet “scouting’s membership standards.”

The petition to reinstate him has gotten signatures from state Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, TV and radio personality Terry Meiners and several Eagle Scouts.

On the petition, Meiners wrote that Bourke is an “exemplary person, a doting father and a pious, generous man of integrity.”

Barry G. Oxley II of the Boy Scouts’ Lincoln Heritage Council, declined to comment about the petition, other than to say it is “a national BSA policy.”

The petition drive, started by Bourke on Change.org, says “we love the Boy Scouts, but we can’t support this policy,” and notes that the Girl Scouts, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America as well as the 4-H Club “all welcome gay kids as well as adult leaders.”

Change.org says the petition is one of dozens that take issue with local Boy Scout councils.

Bourke said he disclosed his sexual orientation because he wasn’t comfortable hiding it. He and his partner, who have lived together for 30 years, have an adopted son and an adopted daughter.

Bouke said Monday that he remains active in his son’s troop as a parent and is still a leader in his daughter’s troop.

“The support I have gotten so far has been really great.” he said of the petition drive. “That has helped eased the pain a bit.”

To support equality, church leaders in Kentucky stop signing marriage licenses

Leaders of a Christian Church in Louisville say they will stop signing state marriage licenses in a show of support for gay couples in Kentucky who can’t enjoy the same legal benefits as married couples.

More than 60 members at the Douglass Boulevard Christian Church voted unanimously in favor of the gesture. Church leaders said they wouldn’t sign licenses until gay couples are able to enjoy the financial and other advantages of a legal marriage in Kentucky.

Pastors who sign the licenses bestow “a number of gifts and benefits” to married couples, said the Rev. Derek Penwell, the church’s senior pastor.

“It seems the system itself is unjust, and our position at this point is, we love people across the board here and we don’t want to be in a position that underwrites a system that discriminates against people we care about,” Penwell said.

Penwell said the church’s move is in line with “the teachings of Jesus that focus on the necessity of embracing the powerless, giving voice to the voiceless.”

Some other congregations in Ohio, New York, Virginia and Oregon have made similar stands in support of gay marriage, many in response to their state’s bans on gay marriage.

Kentucky was one of 11 states that voted in 2004 to change its constitution to outlaw same-sex marriages. The constitutional amendment said marriage is limited to one man and one woman. It also prohibited unmarried people from ever obtaining “legal status identical to or similar to marriage.” Same-sex marriages were already prohibited under Kentucky law.

The Louisville church will continue to hold weddings but couples would have to seek legal a signature for their marriage license from an official. Penwell said the church hosted about eight weddings last year.

Chris Hartman, director of the Fairness Campaign, a Louisville-based gay-rights group, called the church a “pioneer congregation.”

“This is an incredible gesture towards fairness and equality in faith,” Hartman said.

Legal marriage gives couples in Kentucky tax, insurance and inheritance benefits that aren’t available to same-sex couples, Hartman said. He said gay couples are able to adopt children, but the process is complicated and only one parent is eligible for full parental rights.

Penwell said the church in eastern Louisville, which attracts about 100 members to Sunday services, has attracted a growing number of gay members over the past year but the flock remains predominantly straight. Penwell said the church, a member of the Disciples of Christ, has received some negative feedback since the decision, but “90 to 95 percent” of it has been supportive.