My girls trip to Louisville was full of delicious beverages from being welcomed by Yllena’s mom with much-needed coffee after a full night of driving to the bourbon tastings we did at the Woodford distillery on the way home. My absolute top drink recommendation in Louisville is champagne by Wendy’s pool with Laura and Tara (Yllena’s mom and her friends) but if you can’t get in there, here are some of my favorite backup recommendations from our Derby Festival weekend in Kentucky!
Coffee at Press on Market
If I lived in Louisville, Press on Market would be my second home. The tall windows make it bright and cheery, the barista was kind and made delicious iced lattes and the location was so convenient! We were only planning to grab lattes to-go but the environment was so welcoming that we ended up having a seat at the bar in the window for a few minutes. If you’re in town and need a place to take your laptop and get a few things done in a bright, peaceful environment or just need a latte to go, Press is a great option!
Cocktails at The Brown Hotel
The Brown is one of Louisville’s oldest and most iconic historic hotels. The three of us decided to stop for a nightcap in the lobby bar and we were not disappointed. There was a wonderful, live piano player and the most knowledgeable bourbon guru of a bartender, Jay. Clare and I, as non-Kentucky natives, embarked on this Derby Festival weekend with every (stereotypical) intention of drinking nothing but mint juleps until the locals let us in on the Julip’s (lesser known but absolutely divine) sister cocktail, the Lily. I had my first Lily sitting at the bar of the Brown Hotel with my two best girls and it was as delicious as all of Yllena’s moms friends promised it would be! I plan to dedicate and entire post to this delicious little drink but for now, let’s talk bourbon.
The bar in the lobby at the Brown Hotel is stacked high with every Kentucky bourbon you can name. When we asked Bartender Jay if they even had other types of whiskey he chuckled and said, “We do but we keep that other stuff under the bar.” I asked if a whiskey had to be from Kentucky to be bourbon and that is when he brought down the visual aid and bourbon 101 began. Here are the cliff notes but if you ever get the chance, go to Brown, ask for Jay and get the whole thing first hand from a proper, self-proclaimed, “bourbon nerd.”
- Bourbon must be at least 51% corn
- Bourbon must be aged in a virgin oak charred barrel
- The mash (the mixture of grains pictured below) must be distilled at 160 proof or less and put into the barrel between 125 and 80 proof.
- Nothing but water can be added to bourbon
- It doesn’t HAVE to be made in Kentucky to be called bourbon but, at least according to Jay, the best bourbons are.