NOTE: IN ORDER TO BETTER SEE PHOTOS IN THEIR FULL 1600 PX. RESOLUTION, VIEW THEM IN THE ALBUM FORMAT BY CLICKING ON THE LEAD PHOTO OR ANY PHOTO IN THE POST. This is especially true for landscape shots. Thanks to Mark for the idea of adding this alert so the photos can be seen at their best!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

David in the Dark, David by Day

The final stop on our bourbon tour was a visit to Proof on Main.  The restaurant is located in the same historic building as the 21c Museum Hotel.

From the massive golden reproduction of David out front to the award winning bar filled with art and more than 120 types of bourbon, this was definitely the most unique place we stopped.

Just step through the bar to the hotel lobby for more art and feel free to walk around and see it all for FREE!

There are multiple hotels in the 21c family, and the current exhibit at Louisville is Dress Up, Speak Up at least until March.

My favorite pieces were displayed in the bar area.

The Native American series in the dining room was a close second, but I think Katrina liked the golden cat the best.

We ordered some food and dessert, neither of which were very special, and prices were high.  I'd suggest skipping the food and going right to the cocktail list, but to each their own.  

A return visit to the area during the day revealed a cheeky side of David...

A little more to come from our trip, but that's THE END of the Urban Bourbon Trail report!

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Highlands Stroll

A little stroll around the Highlands neighborhood in Louisville reveals an interesting mix of coffee shops, restaurants and hip stores.  And a mural or two.

Stately homes on one block, shotgun houses on the next, the neighborhood is also an eclectic mix of architectural styles.

 Santa was climbing the wall of an Irish Pub, but we bypassed a pint for a cold brew coffee instead.

Then we strolled around a few antique stores and made friends with a few pups, what could be better?

Monday, January 14, 2019

Unforgettable Urban Bourbon Trail Adventures

Stop #3 was at Momma's, where I had a small sample of the Pineapple "Blushy" (Bourbon Slushy) and Katrina got a strawberry lemonade vodka cocktail.  A mouthful of bourbon counts, right? It was so good that I've bought the ingredients to make it at home...but have been too busy to make it yet unfortunately.

The stop was chosen because it was just a few minutes from the big New Years Day sale at Dillard's where we cleaned up on bargains but were left exhausted and hungry.  Momma's BBQ was delicious and the business donates 2% to local charities - just over 1/4 million dollars as of this time last year!  Momma's was Katrina's favorite stop, both for the food and the charitable contributions.

Waiting in line at Dillard's with my pile of bargains

Another stop was the Troll Pub Under the Bridge. This place had a sports bar atmosphere so we only stayed long enough for Katrina to have a drink at the bar and get our passport stamped.

I may have loved the drinks at the historic hotels, and loved the BBQ at Momma's, but I have to say that Buck's was my favorite place to go just for the place itself.

We were instantly impressed by all the flowers on the bar, and by the welcoming personalities of all the staff.  We had the most personal service I've ever had anywhere, and great conversation with our bartender who introduced me to Luxardo cherries - another item added to my grocery list!

The dinner menu was tempting but it was just too soon after our last meal so we settled for a seat at  the bar and just admired the decor while we tried to decide on a cocktail.

After tasting those Luxardo cherries we settled on the Kiss of Kentucky, which Katrina enjoyed more than I did. I found the pecans distracting and the alcohol taste a little strong for a lightweight like myself.

I should have ordered the Lily for myself instead of ordering the same drink she did. Or maybe the Bourbon Bee? Or the Billionaire? Tough decisions.

I hated to leave and if I get back to Louisville I will definitely stop in again.  Our bartender sent us on our way with Star of Bethlehem flowers which is their signature flower and that are still blooming 11 days later. The piano player with the husky voice made me wish I was hungry enough to stay for dinner.  Next time!

Still blooming!

Which drink would you have wanted while listening to "Unforgettable"?

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Louisville in the Dark

While walking downtown Louisville after dark to get those drinks on the Urban Bourbon Trail I saw a few murals.

The drinks we tasted during our trip were mixed with different bourbons.  We didn't have any from Buffalo Trace during this trip, but Cory and I visited their distillery back in 2015.  Fun to look back at the post and the look on my face after I tasted the bourbon straight. Seeing a sign on the street for Buffalo Trace brought back those memories.

Usually I'm inside after dark, curled up on the couch with a blanket and a cat.

For me, it was a bit strange to get a glimpse of how the "night life" folk live.

I'm sure the streets and alleys were rocking and rolling a few hours later as the New Year's Eve party started to get underway.

Linking up to Monday Mural.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Stop #2 - Lavender Fields and Rookwood Pottery at the Seelbach Hotel

I won't list each stop we made on the Urban Bourbon Trail separately, but The Seelbach Hotel deserves to shine on its own.

Beaux-Arts Baroque beauty in downtown Louisville

Another historic downtown Louisville hotel, the Seelbach's history goes back to 1903 when two Bavarian brothers named Louis and Otto Seelbach began construction at the corner of 4th and Walnut Street. In May of 1905, the Seelbach Hotel celebrated its grand opening, drawing 25,000 visitors to their 5-hour public inspection.

Cincinnati mobster and "King of the Bootleggers" George Remus spent time at The Seelbach during the Roaring 20's where he became friends with writer F. Scott Fitzgerald who often visited the hotel while completing Army training at nearby Camp Taylor. Remus was the inspiration for The Great Gatsby's title character Jay Gatsby, and Fitzgerald referred to The Seelbach and its Grand Ballroom when his characters Tom Buchanan and Daisy were married in Louisville.

Even Katrina had to stop and admire the lobby

The impressive lobby was constructed with marbles from Italy, Vermont, and Switzerland along with mahogany and bronze in a classic Renaissance style and also features a vaulted dome of 800 glass panes. 

Cherokee brave

Conrad Arthur Thomas was commissioned to decorate the lobby with huge mural paintings of pioneer scenes from Kentucky history. They looked to be in need of a professional cleaning, and because they were so difficult to see I didn't take many photos, though now I regret that so maybe I should go back someday and look at them again.

General Clarke signing a treaty with the Indians

The guest list includes U.S. Presidents William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton.  But the Seelbach isn't only famous for its artwork and its guest list, it is home to a basement Rathskeller constructed entirely of Rookwood pottery from floor to ceiling.  Well, you know I had to go look at that!

Down the stairs to the Rathskeller we go

The Zodiac clock just outside the room features figures holding a sun dial and an hour glass.

The 80 foot square room added in 1907 had a lot to look at.  I didn't even notice that the ceiling contained 24k gold painted leather featuring symbols of the Zodiac too.

Designs on the pottery were drawn by hand before the clay tiles were fired.  I'm not sure why apples were the theme, grapes I could understand for the making of wine.  Of course the owners were Bavarian and I believe that is a major crop in that country.

 The pelicans were fun, and we were told by the helpful young lady at the front desk to rub one of their noses for good luck.

Pelican frescoes symbol for good luck

 A small display of memorabilia of the hotel was just outside the Rathskeller.  I love old postcards!

During the Roaring Twenties, The Seelbach was considered the most glamorous spot for cards and leisure. Situated in the center of bourbon and whiskey country, the hotel attracted infamous underworld kingpins and gangsters during Prohibition. Notorious figures included Lucky Luciano and even the most legendary gangster at the time, Al Capone.  Capone's legacy remains in The Oakroom restaurant, where guests can dine in the small alcove where he played cards. The gangster's favorite room has two hidden doors behind special panels, leading to secret passageways and still displays the large mirror Capone sent from Chicago so that he could watch his back.

 But wait, didn't we come to have a drink?  Let's head to the bar and look at the menu.  And while we decide, let's hear the story of the re-discovered "lost" Seelbach Cocktail which returned to use when an old menu was found.

 Imagine my surprise to discover today...that the story is widely known to have been made up by the bartendar in charge in the 1990's.  He admitted it himself, after carrying the secret around for decades!  The story was so well told by our bartender that Katrina ordered it, but I opted for the Lavendar Fields.  DELICIOUS!

Hmmm, first fresh mint with bourbon and then a lavender infused vodka cocktail - I know I will need a greenhouse for herbs when we move to Newfoundland! 

Friday, January 11, 2019

The Brown Hotel - A Tasting Experience in Louisville

When I take a trip I do a little research, make a plan and print out a list of things I want to see or do.

Christmas decorations at the Brown Hotel

I don't always do everything on the list; often I get there and discover other things that are more intriguing.  And of course on this trip Katrina was doing her own research and making her own plans.  Her goal was to get a free t-shirt for completing at least 6 stops on the Urban Bourbon Trail.  Lucky me, some of those stops were in historic buildings on my list of things to do!

Ready for the midnight balloon drop

So we braved finding parking in downtown Louisville on New Year's Eve in order to have an early dinner and a drink at the infamous Brown Hotel lobby bar. The good news is that traffic isn't an issue if you are looking to party before the "real" parties begin!

The bars and restaurants on the Urban Bourbon Trail excel in all things bourbon, and our challenge was to find a cocktail we both wanted to try.  We went with the Mint Julep even though we were tempted by the Bisontini.

It was an acquired taste, but as we neared the end of the glass I actually started to really like it.  And the fresh mint was so plentiful in the glass that it was like sipping bourbon in a summer garden.  Sipping Mint Julep while listening to live piano music was a new experience I was glad to add to my list!

More choices faced us as we checked out the dinner menu.  We weren't too hungry and wanted something to share.  Should we try the famous Hot Brown which was invented right in the Brown Hotel in 1926? Lamb sliders on Brioche buns? Shrimp grits? We settled on the crab cakes with fingerling potatoes and grilled zucchini. I regret nothing!

Best way to end a long day of driving!

We had our waitress stamp our Passport, which not only lists the participants but also gives you some hints on what to try when you visit.

And yes, we left room for dessert, which could only be Derby Pie.  Technically it's not Derby Pie unless it's made by Kern Kitchens, which this one was, but I enjoyed this walnut pie so much that I plan to make it at home soon. When we left Louisville we both picked up our own pie to take home, but I'll tell you that the blueberries and raspberries really made this dessert pop both in appearance and in flavor.

Satisfied without being full, we wandered around the lobby.  The hotel was in serious danger of losing a floor vase once I laid my eyes on this one - good thing I didn't know how to smuggle out a waist high vase.

The Brown Hotel was built in 1923 and has seen a lot of history.  Here is a story I thought was just delightful from their website: In January 1937, the Ohio River rose, invading Louisville. Nearly a thousand people from low-lying areas sought refuge in the hotel and found themselves stranded for ten days. A witness recalled, "We were rowing down Broadway and there was The Brown Hotel. The doors were open and the place was filled with water so we just rowed our boat in one door, went through the lobby and rowed out another." Spirits remained high, however. Charcoal grills in makeshift kitchens fed the multitudes, and bucket brigades carried water up the 15 flights of stairs to flush toilets. During the flood, the bell captain caught a fish in the second floor lobby.

Glamorous check-in window across from the Lobby Bar

We didn't see anything quite so fantastical on our visit, unless you count our glimpse of the young guest in the Crystal Ballroom who called the room "magical" before she skipped over to the Christmas tree in the corner.  I couldn't agree more!

Which drink from the menu would you have chosen? Comment below!