LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Whenever I'm looking for a short getaway, I need look no further than the River City. Whether I'm wanting to revisit an old favorite or try a new experience, Louisville never disappoints.
On my most recent jaunt down I-64, I spent a few days with three friends which included a leisurely guided stroll through an historic Victorian neighborhood; an art exhibition every Southerner should see; a "progressive spirited food tour" where the "spirited" came in liquid form; a couple of new restaurants and a new-to-me bourbon attraction that is sure to please.
The Evan Williams Experience made its debut on the city's Whiskey Row (Main Street) in 2013 and has become one of its must-see attractions. While sampling bourbon is reason enough to visit, the sophisticated multimedia presentation on the life of Williams, Kentucky's first commercial distiller, puts the product he produced in vivid perspective.
In a Disneyesque tableau, you can stand with him on the loading dock as he prepares to send a shipment downriver to New Orleans and then wander along an early 1900s re-creation of Main Street.
Bourbon history is good, but bourbon tasting is even better, and here at the Evan Williams Experience, the first distillery to open on Main Street since Prohibition, you can do your tasting in several different venues: a re-created 18th century tavern, a speakeasy or a 1960s bourbon bar inspired by the TV series "Mad Men." My friends and I opted for the speakeasy, where we indulged in the "Sweet and Neat," pairing three different bourbons with gourmet chocolates.
If you want to pair your libations with something other than chocolates, I suggest one of the curated Mint Julep Tours. Our group hopped aboard a small bus for what was billed as "a progressive, spirited food tour."
First up was Harvest, where the tortellini and country ham soup was accompanied by a craft cocktail with the alliterative name Peter Piper's Peaches (try saying that after drinking one). Made with Michters Rye, pickled peach, allspice, cinnamon, clove, a splash of angostura bitters and served in a glass rimmed with serrano pepper and sugar, it definitely got our tour off to a spirited start.
Next, it was on to Le Moo, where it was a tossup as to which we liked better -- our entree (4-ounce filet with country ham demi-glace, popcorn and cheese grits and crispy brussels sprouts with caramelized onions and garlic) or our libation (Blue Grass Breeze, made with Basil Hayden bourbon, apricot liqueur, lemon juice and Demerara syrup). The votes were split, with one even going to Le Moo's extravagant decor (for a hefty price you can dine in an alcove decorated with Louis Vuitton luggage).
By the time we arrived at our last stop, Silver Dollar, for dessert and a Mint Julep using Four Roses Single Barrel bourbon, I didn't think I could eat another bite. One look at the house-made buttermilk biscuit with strawberries and whipped cream made me change my mind.
Mint Julep Tours offers several standard tours or they can personalize one especially for you and your group.