Because the whiskey increase continues, nearly every little thing concerning the business is altering. Quickly. One of many sectors the place that’s most evident is within the distillery expertise. Not way back, visiting an enormous or small distillery was principally about touring a manufacturing unit and/or barrel home, after which tasting some whiskey on the finish. Over time, bars had been added in order that whiskey vacationers may get pleasure from just a few extra pours and a cocktail or two.
Then in 2019, The Bar at Willett opened and every little thing shifted (extra on that, beneath). As we speak, there are nonetheless loads of Kentucky distilleries that merely provide whiskey tour experiences and tastings, however there are few which have caught onto the “full-experience” side of visiting a distillery and added stellar meals packages.
As we speak, I’m calling out 5 eating stops alongside the Kentucky Bourbon Path in case you’re within the Bluegrass State for Bourbon Heritage Month. Whereas this record isn’t a complete itemizing of each meals choice at each distillery, it’s a record of the very best dishes on the market. Let’s dive in!
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Barrel Home Distillery, The Elkhorn Tavern
That is essentially the most easy-going cease. It’s additionally one of many simpler to get to, because it’s positioned simply exterior of downtown Lexington on the outdated James E. Pepper Distillery campus. The Tavern is connected to a small craft distillery, Barrel Home Distillery, which makes artful vodka, rum, moonshine, and bourbon that’s nonetheless a little bit younger and extra suited to cocktails.
The Tavern is a laid-back walk-in pleasant place. There’s good outside seating with the red-brick lifeless warehouses of the Pepper distillery behind it. The inside is filled with woody vibes and old-school Kentucky allure (deer heads, leather-based chairs, massive outdated whiskey bar). The group tends to lean youthful and there’s dwell music most weekends.
What To Eat:
The menu is fairly mild and really Kentucky-focused. I dig the Soup Beans. It’s a hammy pinto bean affair with some pickle and a cornbread muffin on the aspect. You additionally can’t go fallacious with their Pimento Cheese Sandwich. The pimento is made in-house (like several self-respecting Kentucky tavern) with jalapeños and topped with crispy bacon crumbles, tomato, and vibrant lettuce. The perfect half, for $4 you will get a cup of the Soup Beans on the aspect.
The menu additionally rotates seasonal treats — like the new canine pictured above. Their hen salad sando is fairly spot on, too.
What To Drink:
You may seize a flight of Barrel Home’s choices however I’d suggest the Elkhorn Smash. It’s a mixture of Barrel Home Bourbon, pinot noir, easy syrup, lemon, and cherry. It’s a deeply satisfying drink that hits a candy/bitter spot with a very good spicy bourbon base.
Stitzel-Weller Distillery, The Backyard & Gun Membership
The Backyard & Gun Membership appears like a kind of hidden-away Kentucky golf equipment you’d want a membership for. Whereas that’s the vibe, you may completely stroll in, although I’d suggest reserving a desk.
The joint — in West Louisville (Shively) on the famed but non-operational Stitzel-Weller Distillery (the place Pappy and Outdated Fitzgerlad had been born) — is an old-school place with darkish inexperienced partitions, loads of deer heads, leather-based, and laid-back vibes.
What To Eat:
Whereas the menu is much smaller than its sibling outlet in Atlanta, there are some good treats to go together with your whiskey pours.
The Seasonal Meat and Cheese Board is one of the best ways to go. It consists of native nation ham (normally boiled and/or hanged) with native cheeses, jams, pickles, and mustard. It’s the right plate for one should you’re actually hungry or simply splittable. It’s additionally an effective way to get into Southern nation ham should you haven’t. It’s principally America’s prosciutto.
The Pimento Sandwich can also be on level. It’s house-made and served on toasted sourdough with spicy pickles and house-made kettle chips on the aspect.
When you’re trying extra for a snack whereas sipping whiskey, the Boiled Peanuts are the best way to go. They’re very mushy, good, and heat, and dusted with a pointy spicy seasoning that makes for an ideal whiskey pairing.
What To Drink:
The distillery is now owned by Diageo, so the bar is stocked with numerous their manufacturers. You may get respectable tequila, scotch, and gin pours alongside Guinness and all their bourbon manufacturers (Bulliet, Blade & Bow, I.W. Harper, George Dickel, and Orphan Barrel). Meaning a flight may be the best way to go.
When you’re going for a cocktail, I dig the Bourbon Bloody Mary. There’s a very good quantity of peppery warmth, pickle brine, and tomato-y goodness. I additionally actually just like the Stranger in Paradise with Blade & Bow bourbon, pineapple habanero shrub, almond liqueur, lime juice, and topped with nutmeg. It’s like a spicy tropical shock in a glass.
Willett Distillery, The Bar At Willett
This restaurant opened again in 2019 and fully modified the best way individuals take a look at meals in each the distillery expertise and rural Kentucky, particularly round Bardstown. The Bar At Willett leans closely into positive eating with a menu of small plates crafted to intensify the world-renowned whiskeys made simply toes away by the Kulsveen household, who’ve stored the model alive because the Eighties.
The restaurant has an ideal outside porch vibe with the distillery and warehouses offering a dramatic backdrop to your meal and drinks. The inside is unassuming, darkish, and fashionable. It’s nonetheless cozy with loads of bourbon-bar allure. It’s additionally immaculate to the purpose of being Michelin star-level.
That every one implies that you do must make a reservation.
What To Eat:
The menu shifts a bit from season to season. When you’re round after they have the cheeseburger on the menu, then that’s the play — it’s top-of-the-line within the nation. Additionally they bake some superb oysters once in a while. The purpose is, the menu is at all times in flux and also you wish to simply drift as a result of it’ll be stellar it doesn’t matter what’s on.
The true star of the present, although, is the Egg Salad Sandwich. The sandwich is so good/widespread that it has its personal IG account. The bread is thick white slices toasted off in loads of butter sandwiching a superbly creamy and spiced egg salad with grated yolk throughout it. It 100% lives as much as the hype.
What To Drink:
Willett! Severely, Willett bourbon and rye are exhausting sufficient to seek out so get your self a killer flight. That stated, their bar program can also be phenomenal. Their Sazerac, Manhattan, and Vieux Carre are all stellar Willett Rye cocktails. You can’t go fallacious with any of them.
Bardstown Bourbon Firm, Kitchen & Bar
Sticking to the Bardstown space, Bardstown Bourbon Firm took Willett’s superb meals program and made it accessible to the lots with out reducing corners. The Kitchen & Bar at BBC is a superb place to drop in or chill out after a tour and tasting.
The Kitchen is true in the course of the welcome heart. There are huge, ceiling-high home windows that permit the sunshine pour in. Hell, there’s even a selfie wall on the again wall of the place. There’s additionally an ideal bottle/present store proper subsequent to the eating room as properly. When you’re not feeling the light-filled eating room, you may hit the bar exterior for a little bit alfresco ingesting and eating with rows of barrel homes filling your view.
What To Eat:
This menu additionally shifts barely from season to season. I are usually a Membership Sandwich snob and BBC knocks their Bardstown Membership out of the park. The bread is completely toasted, the turkey is definitely house-made and completely seasoned, the bacon is simply the correct amount of crispy and fatty, the mayo is spot on, and the lettuce/tomato ingredient feels recent and has the fitting crunch. Plus, the fries are nice (hand-cut, darkish fried, and good seasoning).
There’s a lot different good things on this menu. Nashville Sizzling Hen and Waffles, Southern Eggs Benny, a dope native Charcuterie board, Kentucky Poutine (with nation gravy!), Brisket Pasta, Shrimp and Grits, and a Pan-Seared Salmon that has no enterprise being nearly as good as it’s this removed from a shoreline (belief me, I grew up on the Washington Coast). It’s served on a butternut squash puree and it’s actually rattling good.
Their Cheesecake is one level too with an ideal creaminess and that good buttery/crumbly crust that makes it shine.
What To Drink:
That is one other spot that has some whiskeys which can be tougher to seek out exterior of Kentucky. So a slight of BBC Fusion Collection or Discovery Collection is a strong transfer (or each). Their single-barrel Outdated Original or Manhattan can also be an ideal selection. Each have severe depth and actually hit the spot.
I additionally actually dig their One Of These … Please, Berry Cream Soda. It’s a mixture of five-year Plantation Rum, house-made white cacao liqueur, and house-made blackberry syrup topped with glowing white wine and lemon. It’s mild but bursting with taste. You’ll need another for positive.
James B. Beam Distilling Co., The Kitchen Desk Restaurant
James B. Beam Distilling Co. simply completed a large revamp of, properly, every little thing on their Clermont, Kentucky campus. The most important change is their restaurant and bar proper subsequent to the outdated Beam household residence and the customer’s heart.
The Kitchen Desk Restaurant sits on a hill in the course of the distillery, so that you get an ideal take a look at each the black warehouses and distillery grounds but additionally over the rolling inexperienced hills of central Kentucky. The restaurant is modernist with massive, open areas (and an open kitchen). There’s indoor seating across the central bar with extra seating on a coated porch. You may as well sit exterior at picnic tables and benefit from the recent air.
What To Eat:
That is one other nice menu. The Brisket is completely smoked and served on a number of the finest, creamiest grits cash should purchase. The sous vide Fried Hen is a moist masterpiece. Hell, even the iceberg Wedge Salad is great with legitimately strong mini iceberg wedges, recent cherry tomatoes, crispy bacon lardons, recent and sharp radish, and a splendidly recent ranch dressing made with recent herbs as an alternative of dried ones.
The true star of the present is the pizza although. The crust is fermented with the identical proprietary yeast that’s used to make Beam’s whiskeys. The chilly fermented dough spends days within the fridge earlier than it’s proofed, hand-stretched, topped, and baked in a blazing wood-fired oven. This is likely one of the finest pizzas you will get exterior of Naples, Rome, Sao Paulo, New York, or Chicago. Fucking legit.
The dough has that good fermented chewiness on the sides whereas the center crust is skinny and strikes from mushy to cracker-y. The tomato is completely balanced between candy, spicy, and umami. The cheese is an efficient mixture of low moisture mozzarella and a few high-end parm. The toppings are additionally spot on. The Pepperoni pie has the right spicy chew with Calabrian chilis and is drizzled with spicy honey, offering an exquisite counterpoint to the mildly spicy pepperoni slices. The Sizzling Brown pie loses the tomato base however provides a tacky mornay sauce, smoked turkey, bacon lardons, cherry tomato, and Swiss cheese. It’s simply nice on that crust.
What To Drink:
The cocktail bar scene is on level. I actually dig the Blossom, which is an quaint take that appears like a Manhattan in a lowball glass with Legent Bourbon, candy vermouth, maraschino liqueur, and bitters. The Outdated Grand-dad Brown Derby can also be a citrus delight with a touch of honey and thyme.
Naturally, the whiskey pours are nice too. You may attempt the brand new Hardin’s Creek expressions, the brand new Booker’s and Little Guide releases, in addition to an extended record of all of Beam’s different whiskey manufacturers.