Nov 01, 2016
Just as the Food Network spurred surging interest in America’s culinary scene, the rebirth of bourbon and craft beer have changed the way the whole country thinks about its beverages. We’re blessed with options in Kentucky, and having tried many of them, we know what we like: to be dazzled by good drinks, whether drawn from a tap or shaken by a bartender. Despite the popularity of light beer, vodka cocktails and white Zinfandel, such basics are now mere starting points when we crave a really good drink.
Following is just a tumbler-full of the places we like to sip and savor in central and south central Kentucky. When it comes to great bourbon, you can find that about anywhere now; craft beer, too. But the best news is great cocktail bars are on the rise.
Woodford Reserve Distillery, 855 McCracken Pike, Versailles, 859-879-1821. No matter the direction from which you approach this historic distillery, you’re in for a lovely drive that sets the mood for a relaxed tour and bourbon tasting. (Walk-ins are welcome, but it’s a good idea to call at least a day in advance to book your spot.) Guides here do an excellent job of telling the Woodford story, and the meticulously restored and fully operational distillery is a sight to behold. The only bad part is having to wait until the end of the tour to taste this lovely bourbon.
Insider’s tip: Like many distilleries, Woodford sells several limited edition bottles only here. So consider setting some souvenir money aside for something special.
440 Main and Micki’s, 440 Main St., Bowling Green, 270-793-0450. Had we more time to spend at Micki’s during our dash through Bowling Green, we’d have had another cocktail here like the Gardener’s Gimlet. Yes, you’re allowed to drink gin in Kentucky—and are encouraged to, frankly, to mix things up—especially when it’s muddled with cucumber and basil. The rest of the cocktail list (not online, unfortunately) was equally intriguing.
White Squirrel Brewery, 871 Broadway Ave., Bowling Green, 270-904-1573. Ten beers on tap, 21 in bottles and 17 in cans. Enough choice for you? Since this is the city’s first craft brewery, stay hyper-local and sip the house brews, like the White Squirrel nut brown or the porter. Then, if you haven’t had any from the short list of other Kentucky brewers, move there next. If you’re really into sipping and tasting, get a flight and carve out some time to enjoy them all.
Corsair Distillery, 400 E. Main, #110, Bowling Green, (270) 904-2021. Unlike big name Kentucky distilleries, Corsair distills much more than bourbon. It does malt whiskey, oat whiskey, rum, gin, rye … even quinoa. Oh, and bourbon, too. Why so much variety? Because everyone else is doing just one or two things, and these experimentalists make what they want when they want. Corsair’s liquid results have won it high praise from Whisky Advocate and Whisky magazine. So if you’re a spirits fan, stop by, take a tour, see what a craft distillery looks like, and then try the 12-15 selections usually on hand. (Believe it or not, all those little sips amount to about one cocktail.) And definitely set aside some money for drinkable souvenirs.
The Wrigley Taproom & Eatery, 207 Main Street, Corbin, 606-261-5666. This hip spot in Corbin supplies 22 well-chosen draft beers and about 50 whiskey choices. Odds are that’ll meet most drinkers’ needs. If you require more diversity, let the bartender stir a classic cocktail or something else on a whim. Bottom line is this is a great place to pass the time sipping cold ones with friends. Corbinites are nice people, too, and you’ll meet them at Wrigley’s community tables.