Louisville’s Bourbon Classic The Makings of Greatness

Real Life – Celebrations in Louisville KY
2013 Bourbon Classic Celebrity Chefs include Ouita Michel, Ed Lee, Anthony Lamas, Jeremy Ashby, Bobby Benjamin

From L-R: Ouita Michel, Ed Lee, Anthony Lamas, Jeremy Ashby, Bobby Benjamin

Distillers, Mixologists and Chefs – Celebrating Kentucky’s Finest

Kentucky is pulling out all the stops to make The Bourbon Classic a premier event during the spring food and wine festival season. Featuring bartending competitions, chef demonstrations, bourbon tastings, the opportunity to meet Master Distillers and interact with the people who are the influencers of bourbon culture this inaugural event aspires to greatness. It is our time to shine Kentucky Proud! Giggles

It’s no secret I like bourbons; all kinds of bourbons. It is no secret I cook with bourbon, even daring to pour a few premium splashes when Charlie is not around to reign me in. The Bourbon Classic is something I have been anticipating for months! Held at The Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts, the March 22 and 23 event will be the start of something big.

There have been whispers. There have been rumors. There is more to this event than meets the eye. As I write this post, the wheels are still in motion. Here is what I know.

Behind the scenes the folks of “The Bourbon Review” magazine and FSA Management have been working hard to pull off this inaugural event. If you know brothers Seth and Justin Thompson, aka “The Bourbon Boys,”you know that there are still some surprises they have not unveiled at the time of this writing. That is the way they roll.


Bourbon Cocktails served up at the Bourbon Classic kick-off media event

Friday night kicks off with a cocktail competition pairing chefs, mixologists and bourbon brands in a tasting like no other. Former Top Chef Competitor and James Beard nominee, Ed Lee of 610 Magnolia and Milkwood, will be one of the celebrity judges. Chef competitors include Anthony Lamas of Seviche,  Bobby Benjamin of La Coop, Levon Wallace of Proof on Main, Patrick Roney of the Seelbach, Patrick McCandless of St. Charles Exchange, Jonathan Lundy of Jonathan’s at Gratz Park, Josh Moore of Volare, and Shawn Ward of Jack Fry’s.

Joy Perrine co-author of “The Kentucky Bourbon Cocktail Book” will be representing bartenders as a judge. The Mixologists vying for the prize includes Jacqueline Zykam of Doc Crow’s, Chris Wilkins of Proof, Isaac Cox of Volare, Gary Gruver of Martini’s Italian Bistro, Michael Anderson of the Seelbach, Colin Shearn of St. Charles Exchange, L.J. Cox of Jonathan’s, and Anu Apti of Rob Roy’s in Seattle.

How will the chefs and bartenders be paired? Guess you better come to Louisville and find out! I will tell you that the bourbon brands for Friday’s competition include Blanton’s, Buffalo Trace, Four Roses, Heaven Hill, Jim Beam, Lexington Brewing and Distilling, Makers Mark and Michters. Noah Rothbaum of Liquor.com will be the judge representing the bourbon folks.

After the competition, get ready to party! There will be cocktails; there will be dancing. You can brush elbows with the Barons of Bourbon. It will be fun!

Saturday Night’s All Right for Sipping!

Larry Rice of Louisville's Silver Dollar and a good pour of Kentucky bourbon!

Larry Rice of Louisville's Silver Dollar

On Saturday, guests will have the opportunity to meet with some of the leading Master Distiller’s in our Commonwealth. Eight distillers is the latest report; but you just never know who might show up! There will lots of fun and banter courtesy of the Urban Bourbon Trail.

Chef Ouita Michel of Holly Hill will be speaking on Bourbon and Chocolate; Larry Rice of Louisville’s Silver Dollar and Josh Durr of Hawthorne Beverage will speak on Creating the Perfect Cocktail, Blanton’s Johns Smith will talk about Entertaining with Bourbon Tastings, and Chef Danielle Gleason of Sullivan College will bring bourbon cooking tips with “Bourbon on the Plate.”

There will be several panels including “Bourbon Trends” and “Lives, Legends, and Legacies” a tribute to distillers.

Saving the best for last, Chef Jeremy Ashby of Azur Restaurant and Patio, and Chef Coby Ming of Harvest will be cooking up “The Ultimate Bourbon Culinary Tastings” Saturday evening, sponsored by Kentucky Proud. Y’all, I have eaten at both of these restaurants and the chefs never disappoint! Be prepared to be dazzled!

The weekend will wrap up with a cocktail party and music sponsored by Four Roses Distillery. Get your tickets while you can!

Disclaimer: I attended the Bourbon Classic media announcement back in the summer and was treated to Ed Lee’s Cornbread Salad and Larry Rice’s fine cocktails. I paid for my way to get to the press event, and for my hotel and lodging. At the time of this writing, I am not paid for the links above. I am a Kentucky girl who loves her bourbons, and believes that The Bourbon Classic can evolve into Kentucky’s answer to the Food and Wine festival circuit bringing attention to our Commonwealth. I believe in the strong link between tourism and food and drinks. Roll out the bourbon barrels!

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About Joyce Pinson

Joyce Friend Pinson is a regional farm-to-table columnist for the Appalachian-News Express. She is a local television host. Her column show and blog, Friends Drift Inn, explores food, gardening, and real life farm-to-table stories from the perspective of a baby boomer in Appalachia. Joyce has a background in agriculture, media, and small business. Joyce is an heirloom gardening addict and home canner. She has a penchant for big hats, pointy toed shoes, and bourbon. Along with her husband Charlie, Joyce really does live in a barn where they ballroom dance. And laugh. And cook. And giggle.