Story and photos by Brent Owen
Louisville welcomed a new music and food festival last week at Champions Park when Bourbon & Beyond came to town. It joins other local celebrations of art and culture like Forecastle, Louder Than Life, Abbey Road on the River and countless others. By now you’ve heard about the performances from iconic musicians like Stevie Nicks, Eddie Vedder and Steve Miller Band and perhaps you’ve even heard about the culinary contributions of nationally renowned chefs like Tom Colicchio, Carla Thomas and Edward Lee. But there were a few delightful details you may have missed so we have recounted them here so you won’t make the same mistake next year.
Maker’s Strawberry Lemonade at The Garden Bourbon Bar
The Garden Bourbon Bar was a wood structure hidden in plain sight. Located dead center of the festival grounds, you probably walked passed it and didn’t notice it was there. The signature cocktail to find in The Garden Bourbon Bar was the Maker’s Strawberry Lemonade. Consisting of Maker’s Mark, muddled strawberry and basil and topped with lemonade, this drink made for a fine festival companion. The unusual blend of strawberry and basil played a sweet and savory game with your palate, and turned this cocktail into a refreshing weekend highlight.
Barrel Engraving at Char House
If you made it into the Char House near the Barrel Stage, you would mostly find more bars and a virtual reality tour of the Jack Daniel’s distillery. But the coolest part was the wood engraver tucked away in the back of the tent—a barrel head and stave engraver, to be exact. There you could buy said barrel heads and staves and get them engraved on the spot with a commemorative “Bourbon & Beyond” logo.
Bernie Lubbers and Hickory Vaught at The Workshop
Bernie Lubbers is known as the Bourbon Professor, and the author of “Bourbon Whiskey: Our Native Spirit.” Hickory Vaught is a bourbon enthusiast and local bluegrass musician. Both also happen to be brand ambassadors for Heaven Hill. Their workshop probed deeply into the history and craft of bourbon distilling, and managed to be both funny and informative.
Rye Smash at Big Bourbon Bar
Over at Big Bourbon Bar, the Bulleit booth was serving up their Rye Smash. The beverage was made with Bulleit Rye, simple syrup, muddled mint, a splash of aromatic bitters and garnished with a lemon wedge. It came off like the blonde little brother of the Old Fashioned. Where its big brother might be too big and bold for a hot day at a music festival, this lighter twist on the old classic more than hit the spot. VT