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Louisville’s Urban Bourbon Trail

Submitted by on February 3, 2010 – 11:53 pmNo Comment

Louisville's Urban Bourbon TrailRoad Trip Foodies ambling in Kentucky might want to check out Louisville’s Urban Bourbon Trail. Louisville’s distilling history dates back to the early 1800’s with whiskey legends like Evan Williams and George Garvin Brown. Before Prohibition, over 50 distilleries, barrel warehouses and bottling plants concentrated along Main Street, in a district known as “Whiskey Row.” Today, you’ll find offices of international brands, world-class bourbon bars and the start of bourbon tours along Main as well as nine museums (albeit not to that fine distilled liquor) in the six-block historic neighborhood that is now Museum Row. You can start at the Louisville Visitor Center, 301 South Fourth Street, Louisville, Kentucky, which has a Kentucky Bourbon Trail exhibit.

There, you can get a sneak preview of the distilleries, pick up a map of the bourbon trails, buy Just Add Bourbon merchandise and plan your Bourbon Country adventure with the help of travel counselors who’ve actually traveled the route. Maybe more than once. Or twice.

The Urban Bourbon Trail Passport (available at the Visitors’ Center) provides places to be validated by each of the restaurants and bars on the trail. Note: There is no time limit for completion (they don’t expect folks to finish in one night, or even one weekend). Visit each location, make a purchase (drink/food) — and get the Passport stamped. When it’s full, go back to the Visitors’ Center (or mail it in) for a special T-shirt and unspecified “premium giveaway” (such a deal!).

The Urban Bourbon Trail Bars include Blu (in the downtown Marriott), Bourbons Bistro (on historic Frankfort Avenue), The Brown (in the Brown Hotel downtown), Jockey Silks Bourbon Bar & Lounge (in the Galt House Hotel), Maker’s Mark Bourbon House & Lounge (on Fourth Street), Proof on Main (in the 21c Museum Hotel) and The Old Seelbach Bar (in the Seelbach Hotel).

Insider tip: Mint Julep Tours can drive you to the distilleries and culinary experiences of Bourbon Country in style (and no chance of a DWI arrest).

kentucky_makersmarkHere, courtesy of the Urban Bourbon Trail, is a recipe for “The Perfect Mint Julep”:

* 1 liter Maker’s Mark
* Lots of fresh spearmint leaves
* 1 cup Distilled water
* 1 cup Granulated sugar
* Powdered sugar for garnish
* Mint sprigs for garnish

1. To prepare the mint extract, remove about 40 small mint leaves – wash and place in a small mixing bowl. Cover with 3 ounces of Maker’s Mark. Allow the leaves to soak for 15 minutes. Then gather the leaves in a clean, soap-free piece of cotton cloth and vigorously wring the mint bundle over the bowl of whisky. Dip the bundle again and repeat the process several times. Then set aside.
2. To prepare the simple syrup, mix 1 cup of granulated sugar and one cup of water in a cooking pot. Heat to dissolve the sugar. Stir constantly so the sugar does not burn. Set aside to cool.
3. To prepare the mint julep mixture, pour 3 1/2 cups of Maker’s Mark into a large glass bowl or glass pitcher. (Pour the remaining whisky from the liter bottle into another container and save it for another purpose). Add 1 cup of the simple syrup to the Maker’s Mark.
4. Now, begin adding the mint extract 1 tablespoon at a time to the julep mixture. Each batch of mint extract is different, so you must taste and smell after each tablespoon is added. You may have to leave the room a time or two to clear your nose. The tendency is to use too much mint. You are looking for a soft mint aroma and taste – generally about 3 tablespoons.
5. When you think it’s right, pour the whole mixture back into the empty liter bottle and refrigerate it for at least 24 hours to “marry” the flavors.
6. To serve the mint julep, fill each glass (preferably a silver mint julep cup) half full with shaved ice. Insert a sprig of mint and then pack in more ice to about an inch over the top of the cup. Then, insert a straw that has been cut to one inch above the top of the cup so the nose is forced close to the mint when sipping the julep.
7. When frost forms on the cup, pour the refrigerated julep mixture over the ice and add a sprinkle of powdered sugar to the top of the ice. Then serve.

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