The Mint Julep Tours bus doesn’t leave Kentucky, but riders will still need a specially-issued passport to travel along the Urban Bourbon Trail, a 20-stop journey of beverage and food tastings this side of Louisville’s border.
“Bourbon has a sex appeal that draws corporate groups, who want to visit distilleries,” says Angi van Berg, director of convention development for Louisville CVB. “But most of those are outside the city. Louisville is the Gateway to Bourbon Country and the trail simplifies the taste experience.”
To qualify the restaurant and bar stops along the trail must offer at least 50 types of bourbon, which must also be used in at least three menu items. Delegates’ passports are stamped at each stop, becoming a valued keepsake in the process. The corporate attraction is so powerful that half of the area’s 10 major distilleries offer event space.
Jim Beam will open a new visitor center experience in 2013 and both Mitcher’s Micro-distillery and the Evan William Bourbon Experience are opening tasting rooms on Main Street.
Where there’s bourbon, there are likely modern renditions of regional favorites like fried chicken, country ham, pimiento cheese, or Hot Browns, the turkey, bacon, tomato and béchamel sauce sandwich invented in the 20’s to appease the late-night partiers. Today’s counterparts don’t have to travel far from the recently built 22,000-seat KFC Yum! Center to refuel.
“The Center was a catalyst for hot new restaurants like Doc Crow’s in the emerging arena district and Harvest in the nearby entertainment district of NuLu,” adds van Berg. Gotolouisville.com