Think Kentucky and perhaps bourbon come to mind. Bourbon style whiskey was born in Kentucky more than 200 years ago, and Louisville’s Urban Bourbon Trail is a testament to Kentucky’s bourbon bounty. What began as a way for Kentucky’s first farmers to use their extra grain–mostly corn, turned into a booming business.
As small and large scale distilleries dotted the rural and urban landscape, and steamboats and railroads were used to transport oak barrels filled with bourbon to market, Louisville was at the center of the buzz.
It still is. The Urban Bourbon Trail is proof.
Made up of an assortment of 20 bars that range from the historic to the modern, the Urban Bourbon Trail is a do-it-yourself at your own pace experience. Along the way, you’ll find out just how many bourbon options there are.
To be included in the Urban Bourbon Trail, an establishment must have at least 50 different bourbons on hand.
Some, like the Jockey Silks Bourbon Bar at the Galt Hotel have more than 150. I savored a Jockey’s Dream here. A Jockey’s Dream is a blend of bourbon, lime, grenadine, orange, pineapple, and cranberry juice served in a keepsake Kentucky Derby glass.
Each stop has its own distinction whether you’re interested in pairing a bourbon libation with fine food, live music or an intriguing story. Actually, you don’t even have to have bourbon. Any beverage or food purchase earns a stamp. Six stamps makes you a Bourbon Trail aficionado.
My Urban Bourbon Trail experience also included The Old Seelbach Bar in the Seelbach Hotel, a historic Louisville landmark and muse to F. Scott Fitzgerald who frequented here. When Fitzgerald penned The Great Gatsby, he patterned the hotel where Tom and Daisy Buchanan married after the Seelbach.
To begin your own tour, obtain a The Urban Bourbon Trail passport at either the Louisville Visitors Center, a participating restaurant, or the Kentucky Derby Museum and browse the pages for establishments that suit your fancy. The passport includes bourbon history, descriptions of each stop and drink suggestions for each place.
Once you’ve collected stamps from six Urban Bourbon Trail stops (ask the server or bartender for a stamp), head to the Louisville Visitors Center, 301 S. 4th St. to collect your congratulatory Urban Bourbon Trail T-shirt and certificate. Yes, you can keep the passport.
If you can’t make it to the visitors center, you can mail your passport to the center for proof.
Along with the T-shirt and certificate, you’ll get your passport back.
*You can also download the Urban Bourbon Trail passport to your iPhone or Android.
Photos and post courtesy of Jamie Rhein, member of Midwest Travel Writers’ Association.
**Part of my Urban Bourbon Trail experience was courtesy of Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau. I’m not done yet–four down and two stamps to go.