Bourbon and Beyond: Why I Loved Louisville

*Warning: contents of this blog may make you hungry*

Sure, the Kentucky Derby is cool and all, but my trip to visit Louisville had nothing to do with horse racing. As ridiculous as it may sound, my desire to visit Louisville started with a renewed appreciation for John Mayer. Earlier this year, on a road trip back from New York, I listened to The Search For Everything and my love for John Mayer was reignited. For weeks, I scoured the internet for tickets to see him perform live. Needless to say, I was unsuccessful. Then, one night over dinner and one too many margaritas, my friend Emily told me he would be performing in Louisville, Kentucky for their annual Bourbon and Beyond festival. She suggested we go and without hesitation, I agreed. Within days, we booked our flights and I started drinking bourbon. Our visit to Kentucky ended up being a weekend filled with great music, incredible food and a little bit of history too (not to mention, it completed my new year’s resolution to visit 5 new states)!


Day One: We landed in Louisville around noon on Friday and ubered to our AirBnB in NuLu where we were greeted by the most adorable hosts, Scotty and Mo and their yellow lab, Major. Scotty welcomed us in a seersucker suit and gave us the low-down on Louisville’s hottest restaurants and bars. Mo owns Revelry Gallery, a charming art gallery in downtown Louisville, which we also visited later that afternoon.

Shameless plug: If you ever go to Louisville, find Scotty and Mo on AirBnB – they are fantastic hosts! Scotty willingly drove us home from the concert on Saturday night after it monsooned all day. Their guest house is perfect for two people and it’s within walking distance to NuLu, Butchertown and Downtown Louisville. 

Lunch at Naive. After eating less-than-desirable airport food that morning, all I wanted was something healthy. Located in the heart of historic Butchertown, Naive is a fast-casual restaurant that serves healthy food made from organic, all-natural ingredients. Whether you’re a vegan or vegetarian, carnivore, or gluten-free, there’s a place at the table here for you. I ordered their Full Moon Harvest bowl (basically Autumn in a bowl) and Emily ordered the Cardi B.urrito bowl, which was chock-full of chorizo goodness. And if you’re looking for a little treat after lunch, they have a counter filled with baked goodies including CBD chocolate chip cookies and brownies.


Rabbit Hole Distillery. I hated bourbon up until this year. In fact, I forced myself to drink bourbon in preparation for this trip. And now? Old fashions have become my drink of choice whenever I go out. Emily and I decided to go to Rabbit Hole as a safe haven from the rain on Friday afternoon, and it was such a fun experience. Rabbit Hole is a state-of-the-art distillery that showcases the bourbon-making experience from glass to grain. Our tour guide was extremely passionate about the history of the distillery and after an hour-long tour, we were given flights of four different types of bourbon. As we finished our flights, we noticed that the rain had disappeared so we enjoyed mixed drinks on the Rabbit Hole terrace overlooking the city.

For you history buffs: Rabbit Hole started when a scotch drinker from Chicago met a woman from Louisville. He fell in love with her spirit — and her home state’s too. They went down the rabbit hole, so to speak, and Rabbit Hole’s founder, Kaveh Zamanian, quit his 18-year clinical practice to begin his own distillery and bourbon brand. 


Dinner at Feast. It has been two months since our trip to Kentucky and I still can’t stop thinking about our dinner at Feast. A trip to Louisville isn’t complete until you’ve stopped by Feast for one of their excellent barbecue plates. The menu includes the most delicious pulled pork I’ve ever eaten, loaded (and I mean LOADED) tots, crispy mac n cheese balls and their staple: a bourbon slushie. Some may say I have a flair for the dramatics, but I’d argue this place probably has the best BBQ in the city. Don’t believe me? Believe the line of people wrapped around the block waiting to get in.


Day Two: We started the morning by taking a walk across the Big Four Bridge, which connects Louisville, Kentucky and Jeffersonville, Indiana. The 2 mile round trip was the perfect way to start the day, especially with soothing music that played through speakers along the bridge.

Brunch at Harvest. We were looking for a sit-down brunch spot in NuLu before the concert, but every place we checked had an hour or more wait. I’m happy they did though, otherwise, we would have never stumbled upon Harvest. Harvest is an award-winning farm-to-table restaurant and 80% of their ingredients are sourced by farms within 100 miles from Louisville. I’d describe it as “farmhouse chic” – the decor is rustic and the walls are covered with photos of the farmers who provide for the restaurant. The menu is brief but the food is incredibly fresh – they even make their own ketchup! Harvest is like bringing the Farmer’s Market right to your table.

Bourbon and Beyond. As its tagline says, Bourbon and Beyond is “the perfect blend of bourbon, food and music.” The festival was held at Louisville Champions Park and incorporated countless food stalls, bourbon tents, chef demos from local restaurants and Food Network stars, and incredible musicians. We only had tickets for Saturday, but we got to see Sheryl Crow, David Byrne, Lenny Kravitz, and, of course, John Mayer. We knew before we got to the festival that it would be raining all day, so we came fully prepared with raincoats, hats and extremely stylish yellow ponchos from CVS. I think for most people, this would put a damper on the day, but we had so much fun in spite of this. By the time John Mayer got on stage, the rain had stopped and I sat in awe for two hours as he performed some of my favorite songs. And despite the fact that Emily and I were up to our ankles in mud by the end of the night, we completely lucked out. The second day of the festival was canceled on account of ‘dangerous conditions’ from the mud and rain.




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