local a guide to Kentucky Spirits
by Kentucky Monthly Magazine
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Bourbon for sharing www.wildernesstrailky.com
Danville, KY Wilderness Trail encourages you to drink responsibly
from the Kentucky Monthly team.
O N T H E C OV E R Sweet Potato Pyre cocktail. Recipe by Katie Tobin, bar manager of The Aquifer at New Riff Distilling, and photo by Mackenzie Frank Photography.
SWEET POTATO PYRE 1 ounce New Riff Kentucky Straight Rye ¾ ounce Cocchi sweet vermouth 1½ ounces spiced sweet potato cognac (sweet potato simple syrup + cognac, recipe follows) ¼ ounce Orahovac walnut liqueur ½ ounce Demerara simple syrup
inside drink local 4 Q&A with Fred Minnick Talking bourbon with a premier curator, taster and reviewer
8 Riff Relief A northern Kentucky distillery uses a limited release to fund aid for restaurant and bar workers
12 Hoptown’s Hoppy Place Hopkinsville brewery
1 dash angostura bitters
makes its mark on the community
1 dash Peychaud’s bitters
18 Mint Julep + The Kentucky Derby classic gets a
Graham cracker crumbs Jumbo torched marshmallow for garnish Combine rye, vermouth, sweet potato cognac, walnut liqueur, simple syrup and both bitters well. Half rim graham cracker crumbs on a Nick and Nora glass, and garnish with jumbo torched marshmallow.
SPICED SWEET POTATO COGNAC Mix one 40-ounce can of sweet potatoes (juices strained) with 2 cups of Demerara simple syrup and one bottle of Cognac. Combine well in blender, then strain through chinois.
makeover with these clever adaptations
22 Wine for All Kentucky native and sommelier Vanessa Price wants to democratize wine
26 DIY Cocktails With Gents Original mixes, anyone can be a home bartender
28 Drink + Eat Local Spirit-serving Kentucky restaurant guide
Drink Local is presented by Kentucky Monthly Magazine KENTUCKY MONTHLY (ISSN 1542-0507) is published 10 times per year by Vested Interest Publications, Inc., 100 Consumer Lane, Frankfort, KY 40601. Periodicals Postage Paid at Frankfort, KY and at additional mailing offices. Kentucky Monthly is printed and distributed by Freeport Press, New Philadelphia, Ohio.
Publisher + Editor-in-Chief STEPHEN M. VEST Associate Editor PATRICIA RANFT Assistant Editor DEBORAH KOHL KREMER Contributing Editor TED SLOAN Creative Director REBECCA REDDING Business Manager BARBARA KAY VEST Account Executive LINDSEY COLLINS Circulation Specialist JOCELYN ROPER
kentuckymonthly.com | email@example.com | 888.329.0053
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q+a with Fred Minnick Talking bourbon with a premier curator, taster and reviewer Bourbon connoisseur Fred Minnick is a busy man. The Iraq War veteran has written seven books, five of which focus on spirits, and he hosts the Bourbon Pursuit podcast as well as The Fred Minnick Show on YouTube. He has served as a judge in bourbon competitions and even started his own, American Spirits Council of Tasters, also known as ASCOT. He blogs about the liquor industry, is the bourbon headline speaker for Louisville’s Bourbon & Beyond music festival and has written on the topic for a multitude of magazines. In other words, he’s your go-to guy when you need to know something about bourbon.
Kentucky Monthly Assistant Editor Deborah Kohl Kremer spoke with Minnick, who lives in Louisville with his wife, Jaclyn, and their two children, about the Commonwealth’s No. 1 spirit.
What is your favorite thing about the Kentucky bourbon industry? What it really comes down to is the people. I mean, there are a lot of great spirits in the world, and I love a lot of them. But there’s only one Jimmy Russell [Wild Turkey’s longtime master
distiller], and there is only one Fred Noe [Jim Beam’s seventhgeneration master distiller]. They’re the personalities in the history of bourbon. In Kentucky, it is not so much of an industry as it is a community, and the distillers are every bit as important as the consumers. They have built their own kind of culture. What is really special about the distillers is how they help each other. In 1996, Heaven Hill Distillery in Bardstown had a terrible fire.
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All the other distilleries chipped in to make sure that they were OK and actually gave them whiskey to help them along. So, it just goes back to the fact that this is an industry filled with good, wholesome people who care about one another. What do you like to eat with your bourbon? Lots of food pairs well with bourbon, but I like to think about the whole meal. If we’re doing an appetizer
For more on Fred Minnick and his bourbon expertise, visit fredminnick.com.
of fried shrimp, I would go with an Old Forrester, neat. Then for the entrée, a tender fillet—medium rare, when the juices are just absolutely on point. I love pairing that with something like E.H. Taylor Jr. Bottled-in-Bond, where there’s just a tad of some spice and some caramel to complement the fillet. For dessert, I would go with Chocolate Pots de Crème paired with Maker’s Mark, where the walnut shell bitterness offsets the sweetness of the chocolate.
How do you drink bourbon when you are relaxing at home? I have an analytical brain that I use when I am focusing on trying to figure out which bourbon is better. Then, the other side of me is when I kick my feet up and I’m not working, and I’m just hanging out at home or with some friends. It will vary from one piece of ice to neat. I actually don’t like making bourbon cocktails, and it’s because I don’t do it as
good as the bartenders. There are really good rum or tequila cocktails, but I just like bourbon by itself. Do you have a favorite bourbon? And if you do, will you tell us? Well, it changes, but last year I had a blind taste-off and chose Pappy Van Winkle 15-year-old as best bourbon and best American whiskey for 2020. So that is my pick for 2020. Q
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Bourbon Capital of the World®
Book a tour at Bardstown Bourbon Company or let their experts teach you how to craft an iconic bourbon cocktail.
Take a culture trip
Find out why people are making the trip to the “Bourbon Capital of the World®” — Bardstown, Kentucky There is a reason why they say, “Bourbon Comes from Bardstown” and we have 10 distilleries within 16 miles of beautiful downtown Bardstown, Kentucky, to prove it. Bardstown is undoubtedly the most authentic bourbon destination in the world. Every distillery tour,
Patio seating at Scout & Scholar
every cocktail class, every tasting tells its own unique story. In Bardstown there is nothing more important than a good drink, local food and relaxing on a porch or patio, letting your worries melt away. If you are a bourbon lover, Bardstown is a must on your bucket list. You might say bourbon is flowing around every corner, deeply rooted in tradition and craftsmanship. Check out some of the many reasons to eat, drink and relax in the Bourbon Capital of the World®.
Life is short. Drink the bourbon. VisitBardstown.com
Bardstown Bourbon Company provides visitors with a true Napa Valley style experience.
U b a B C in a T p t w t m t e t e v s t a t t B B
BARDSTOWN BOURBON CO.
Upon entering the beautiful, modern all-glass open space of Bardstown Bourbon Company, you instinctively know you are someplace special. They constantly push the boundaries through innovation, while honoring the traditional art of making whiskey. It’s a true Napa Valley style experience. Book a tour or experience an exclusive flight in their vintage whiskey library, surrounded by more than 400 bourbons and ryes dating back to 1892. A meal at the The Kitchen and Bar at Bardstown Bourbon Company is
a must. Try a paired bourbon flight to kick off your meal and enjoy inventive culinary combinations designed by Chef Stu.
Local ingredients pair with regional flair for an award- winning finish
SCOUT & SCHOLAR
For a twist in the Bourbon Capital of the World®, Bardstown has welcomed a new addition to our scene — Scout & Scholar Brewing Co., the first craft brewery in Bardstown. Scout & Scholar produces exceptional craft beers and also boasts a full-service restaurant and bar. Take a seat and relax on their patio located in the heart of downtown Bardstown.
The Kitchen and Bar at Bardstown Bourbon Company
FRIED CHICKEN House-made Fries | Pulp Fiction Cocktail The Kitchen and Bar at Bardstown Bourbon Company
The Kitchen and Bar at Bardstown Bourbon Company
TUNA TATAKI Carrot-ginger slaw/ wasabi cream/ house furikake/ ponzu | Scout Flight | Scout & Scholar
Q A northern Kentucky distillery uses a limited release to fund aid for restaurant and bar workers
Riff Relief B Y D E B O R A H KO H L K R E M E R
ew Riff, a family-owned distillery in Newport, has taken on a project to help those in an industry whom they credit with their own success. It has released an extremely limited-edition bourbon with all proceeds going to individuals who work in the restaurant and bar industry. “As far as production of spirits and sales of bottles, we had a good year. Our customers were still drinking; they were just drinking at home,” said Hannah Lowen, vice president of operations at New Riff. “We saw a boom in home mixology, but that meant that our friends who work in bars and restaurants had really suffered.” So, the folks at New Riff looked into ways to help. They created a fund to benefit restaurant and bar workers in northern Kentucky and the Cincinnati area whose jobs have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Those workers can apply to qualify for a $300 grant to help them through these hard times. The creation of the fund was a think-
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FOLLOW THE DISTILLERY @NEWRIFF
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Described on its website as “a new riff on an old tradition,” New Riff Distilling was founded in 2014.
outside-the-box moment. New Riff’s first bourbons hit the market in 2018, but prior to the release of bourbon distilled at the Newport location, they had purchased barrels of bourbon that had been distilled in Indiana. The barrels sat in New Riff’s warehouse for several years, and distillery officials were not sure what they would do with them. “As we discussed what we could do, what kind of impact could we have, we remembered we had these barrels,” Lowen said. “They are all 15 years old and were delicious when they were
younger and even better now. It is a great way to make use of what would have been a small release.” With fewer than 900 bottles, New Riff Relief 15 Year Straight Bourbon Whiskey was released on March 4. Described as a rare high-rye bourbon, bottled in bond with no chill filtration, the bottles were available only at the distillery’s gift shop and through single pours in the tasting room. Priced at $200 per bottle, the entire inventory sold out in two minutes.
New Riff founder Ken Lewis
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formerly had owned one of Kentucky’s largest independent liquor retailers, The Party Source in northern Kentucky. He sold that business in 2014 and began distilling. New Riff bourbons have quality standards based on the Bottled in Bond Act of 1897. In what is now referred to as the first consumer-protection law, the United States government placed strict guidelines for distillers to follow when making bourbon, thus guaranteeing that the consumer was getting exactly what the label indicated. Among other requirements, bourbon had
to be aged in a federally bonded warehouse for at least four years and bottled at 100 proof. New Riff takes those requirements one step further. It has done away with chill filtration, as explained on the distillery’s website, “to ensure that not a single molecule of flavor is sacrificed for cosmetic appearances.” Lowen said this is part of New Riff’s commitment to quality.
banks of the Ohio River is known for its generosity in the community. When consumers were desperate to purchase hand sanitizer last spring in the dawn of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lowen said the distillery stopped on a dime and transferred some of the production of spirits over to make sanitizer. New Riff delivered 55-gallon drums to area hospitals, fire departments
The small distillery near the
and police departments. “One of the things at New Riff that we are really proud of is that we are all about making fantastic spirits, but we also have a greater mission beyond that,” Lowen said. “It is about improving our little corner of the world as best we can. It felt like our responsibility to help where we could.” Q
As of press time, New Riff continued to accept grant applications. Bar and restaurant workers can apply here. k e n t u c k y m o n t h l y. c o m 11
BY JACKIE HOLLENKAMP BENTLEY
HOPTOWN’S Hoppy Place
Hopkinsville brewery makes its mark on the community
n Labor Day 2016, Kate Russell helped open the doors of the Hopkinsville Brewing Company, the firstever brewery in the Christian County city. “At that point, we were the only brewery within about an hour’s radius,” Russell said. “For the first couple of years, it was a lot of educating consumers as to what craft beer is.” Russell said they also wanted to dispel any misgivings local residents may have had about opening a brewery in the city’s Downtown Renaissance District. “As a woman, I was very conscious of how the community perceived us. I wanted to create a place
where I would want to go hang out either by myself or with my friends,” Russell said. “We have big, bright, open windows, and we never black them out … We’ve always been transparent with how we do things and what we’re doing.” What they’re doing is producing a new batch of craft beer every three weeks, giving customers nine different options, ranging from a chocolate bourbon porter to an IPA (India pale ale) to a Belgian abbey ale to a traditional bock. “We rotate our taps a lot. If you come in one month, the next month you’re not going to see the same board,” Russell said. “Our IPAs rotate, and each
IPA has its own following. Our chocolate bourbon porter is popular. The sours are popular. In the summer, we go with a lot of fruit beers because it’s neat to use local ingredients and find different ways of using local produce, and those sell out fast.” The fruit beers have included homegrown watermelon, strawberries, cantaloupe, peaches—even squash and an occasional mint. Using locally sourced ingredients is just one of the ways Hopkinsville Brewing Company involves itself in the local community. In March, the brewery launched Books at the Bar
Books + Beer Hopkinsville Brewing Company partners with the HopkinsvilleChristian County Public Library for Books at the Bar, a book club that meets quarterly at the brewery. Patrons discuss the current book, watch a movie based on it, and quaff the brewery’s beverages.
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For more information about the brewery, visit hopkinsvillebrewingcompany.com.
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ma king hoptown hoppy
book club, a partnership between the brewery and the Hopkinsville-Christian County Public Library. Local residents can check out the pre-selected title, then discuss the book and watch a movie connected to it, all while enjoying one of the brewery’s adult beverages. “We partner with as many people in the community as possible, whether it’s the library or women’s shelter or restaurants,” Russell said. “They know that we’re genuinely trying to make the community a better place. It’s not just about selling beer.” Co-owner Joe Medeiros said that, since the brewery does
not serve food, customers are encouraged to bring their own, preferably from local restaurants. “You can bring any food that you want,” Medeiros said. “We had a family that would bring in a homemade pizza once a week. We had people bring crockpots. Bring your food; have it delivered; make your own.” It’s all part of the brewery’s mission to become an integral part of the Hopkinsville community. It must be working. The brewery outgrew its original 5th and Main street location. In 2019, it purchased the
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old body shop next door, remodeled it, and opened the expansion in early 2020. That was “three weeks before everyone got shut down” due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Russell said. “COVID got a little weird.” But it didn’t stop the brewery. As businesses slowly reopen and increase customer capacity, Hopkinsville Brewing Company continues to welcome customers. “In a week, we probably get about 250 people,” Medeiros said. Russell isn’t surprised. “We’ve got a loyal following around the community,” she said. Q
Farmer & Frenchman Winery & Cafe
Henderson Brewing Co.
From family-owned vineyards & award-winning craft beer to artisanal cocktails made with local love, homegrown & handcrafted is our nature.
www.hendersonky.org | 270.826.3128
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Come to Covington
Find it in Frankfort
Thoughtfully crafted itineraries incorporate three cities for a perfect bourbon excursion— distinctive distilleries, mouth-watering culinary offerings, and bourbon-centric attractions & lodging.
ComeFindBourbon.com Bourbon Comes From Bardstown
Come Find Bourbon is a partnership between meetNKY, Visit Frankfort, and Visit Bardstown.
About Bourbon Women
Bourbon Women is the organization for women who are passionate about bourbon culture, women and the promise of adventure when the two are combined. As an independent forum bringing women of all walks of life together over a glass of bourbon, their focus is to initiate, cultivate and inspire deep, meaningful relationships; encourage the development of women personally, professionally and courageously; and provide a safe and inclusive environment for fun, discovery and learning. Learn more at bourbonwomen.org.
Mint Julep +
Visit Louisville around Derby time and you’ll find a local specialty—a chocolate-pecan pie well-infused with bourbon called the Triple Crown Pie. This take on a traditional julep combines flavors of chocolate and pecan with bourbon and mint. It’s a match made in heaven, and choosing the right bourbon with notes of pecan and chocolate elevates the cocktail even more.
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< Triple Crown Pie Julep SINGLE SERVING
The Kentucky Derby classic gets a makeover with these clever adaptations
1½ ounces 85- to 95proof bourbon ¾ ounce Rivulet pecan liqueur ¾ ounce Ballotin Chocolate Whiskey or crème de cacao 3 dashes chocolate bitters Cracked ice Fresh mint sprig Pecan-chocolate cookie for garnish 1. Fill a julep cup with ice. In a mixing glass or cocktail shaker, combine bourbon, pecan liqueur, chocolate liqueur and bitters. Fill with ice and stir or shake until chilled. 2. Strain into a julep cup filled with crushed ice. 3. Spank the mint sprig on your wrist, releasing the aromatics of the herb, and slide it into the cocktail. Place straw right next to the mint sprig. Add chocolatepecan cookie if desired.
B AT C H TO S E R V E 8 - 1 0
1½ cups 85- to 95-proof bourbon ¾ cup Rivulet pecan liqueur ¾ cup Ballotin Chocolate Whiskey or crème de cacao ¼ cup water 12-18 dashes chocolate bitters Cracked ice Fresh mint sprigs for each cocktail 1. In a pitcher or empty bourbon bottle, combine all ingredients except the mint. Shake the bottle briefly (or stir the pitcher) to combine and place in the fridge until well-chilled, at least four hours but preferably overnight. Add more chocolate bitters as needed to taste. 2. To serve, pour into julep cups filled with cracked ice and garnish each cocktail with a freshly spanked mint sprig just next to the straw.
ourbon lovers revel in any occasion to share their passion for America’s native spirit, and no event is more central to the bourbon world than the Kentucky Derby. Each year, as 3-year-old Thoroughbreds bound past the Twin Spires at Churchill Downs in Louisville, hundreds of thousands of people in Kentucky and around the world celebrate with a mint julep in hand. At its core, the mint julep melds bourbon, simple syrup and an herbaceous element, mint, poured into a metal julep cup filled with cracked ice. But there’s more to juleps than that—so much more. Juleps are easy to vary by swapping the sweet element for a fruit or a dessert simple syrup, or by changing the herb to basil or rosemary. Try these delicious, nontraditional mint julep variations wherever and however you’re celebrating Derby this year. Recipes for the Triple Crown Pie Julep and Caramel Brûlée Julep were developed by Louisville-based Heather Wibbels, chair of the Bourbon Women board of directors. They are excerpted from a bourbon cocktail book set for release in the spring of 2022 titled Bourbon Is My Comfort Food: Bourbon Women’s Guide to Fantastic Cocktails at Home. The Strawberry Basil Julep comes from Wibbels’ website, cocktailcontessa.com. An award-winning mixologist, Wibbels has a passion for converting new whiskey drinkers one cocktail at a time, and these cocktails can turn the eye and palate of any adventurous drinker. Each recipe features measurements and directions for just one cocktail and for party batches. So, get your julep cups, grab some bourbon, and, as we say in Kentucky, “Go, baby, go!” Find Heather Wibbels’ most recent creations at cocktailcontessa.com or follow her on Instagram @cocktail_contessa.
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Caramel Brûlée Julep
In Kentucky, it’s early still for fresh basil in May, but it’s best to make this cocktail while strawberries are in peak season. Although you’ll serve it in a julep cup, the cocktail will have a lovely pink tinge from the strawberrybasil syrup. Be sure to garnish with a generous sprig of basil right next to the straw.
One favorite food pairing of mine is salted caramel with neat bourbon. To bump up the “wow” factor, I’ve included a bit of vanilla-infused simple syrup. To make it, prepare simple syrup as you usually would but add a vanilla bean you’ve cut open—include the vanilla seeds as well as the split beans to the syrup. Then let steep for an hour. This is more of a dessert than a true julep, so julep purists may gasp. But the kid in them will be secretly pleased. SINGLE SERVING
2 ounces bourbon ½ ounce salted caramel syrup (Torani preferred) ¼ ounce vanilla simple syrup 2 dashes chocolate bitters Cracked ice Mint sprig, whipped cream, additional salted caramel, and kosher salt for garnish 1. Fill a julep cup with cracked ice. Combine cocktail ingredients in a mixing glass or cocktail shaker and stir or shake until well-combined. 2. Strain into the julep cup and top with whipped cream, a drizzle of salted caramel, a sprinkle of salt, and a freshly
spanked mint sprig tucked in close to the straw. Note: This is a super-sweet, crowd-pleasing cocktail, but your bourbon-centric friends might prefer a stronger ratio of bourbon to caramel. Use a higher-proof bourbon for those folks.
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2 cups bourbon ½ cup salted caramel syrup (Torani preferred) ¼ cup vanilla simple syrup ¼ cup water 8-12 dashes chocolate bitters Cracked ice
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Mint sprigs, whipped cream, additional salted caramel, and kosher salt for garnishing each cocktail 1. In a pitcher or 1-liter bottle, combine all ingredients except the garnish. Stir or shake until the salted caramel combines with the rest of the ingredients. Increase the chocolate bitters as needed to taste. 2. Refrigerate until wellchilled—at least a couple of hours. To serve, fill each julep cup with cracked ice. Pour in the chilled cocktail, top with whipped cream and salted caramel drizzle, and tuck a mint sprig just next to the straw. You might get a little whipped cream on your nose, but it’s Derby, so celebrate.
Strawberry Basil Julep SINGLE SERVING
1¾ ounces 85- to 95proof bourbon
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1¾ cups of 85- to 95proof bourbon
¾ ounce strawberry-basil syrup (recipe follows)
¾ cup strawberry-basil syrup (recipe follows)
2 dashes cherry bark vanilla bitters (optional) 1 basil leaf
12-16 dashes cherry bark vanilla bitters (optional)
¼ cup water
Sprig of basil and strawberry for garnish
1. Combine bourbon, strawberry-basil syrup and bitters (if using) in a mixing glass and add ice. Stir for about 20 seconds. 2. Take a single basil leaf and rub the inside of the julep cup, especially the rim. Strain the cocktail into the julep cup filled with cracked ice. Add more ice to the top of the mint julep. 3. Garnish with a sprig of basil and a strawberry, and don’t forget the straw.
Sprigs of basil and fresh strawberries for garnish 1. Add bourbon, strawberrybasil syrup, bitters (if using) and water to an empty whiskey bottle and agitate. Chill for several hours or overnight in the refrigerator. 2. About 20 minutes before serving, add 2-3 basil sprigs to the pitcher, along with some sliced strawberries. Pour over cracked ice in julep cups to serve. If there are leftover juleps, remove the basil sprigs
from the pitcher before storing them in the refrigerator. S T R AW B E R RY BA S I L SIMPLE SYRUP
3 cups chopped strawberries ½ cup water 1 cup sugar 2 cups packed basil leaves 1. Combine chopped strawberries, water and sugar in a small saucepan and cook on medium-low heat until the sugar has dissolved, the mixture is juicy, and the syrup is bright pink. It helps to mash the strawberries as they cook to release their juices. 2. Add the basil leaves. Stir for a minute, then turn off the heat. Let the basil steep until fully cooled. 3. When cool, strain and bottle syrup. This syrup can be stored in the refrigerator for up to four weeks.
Home of WineFest and the first commercial vineyard established in the United States! Jessamine County has three award-winning vineyards.
& VENTURE. k e n t u c k y m o n t h l y. c o m 21
Wine for All Kentucky native and sommelier Vanessa Price wants to democratize wine
B Y PA T R I C I A R A N F T
“I did not grow up with wine,” New York-based wine professional Vanessa Price said.“My mom [Renae Chastain] and dad drink now, but they didn’t when I was growing up. Back then, alcohol was a no-no under any circumstances.” Price, a Louisville native, had her first sampling of vino when she was 20. She and her father, Gene—an attorney
and retired United States Navy rear admiral—had traveled to Atlanta with the rest of the family for a Navy event. A colleague of her father’s, a Navy captain of Italian heritage, invited the Prices to her home for dinner, and after they arrived, she poured Vanessa a glass of wine. “My eyes got really, really big, and Dad’s eyes got really, really big,” Vanessa recalled, “and she just sort of looked at Dad and said, ‘Lighten up, Gene!’ “I definitely had a great first memory. It was pretty cool.” But it wasn’t a life-defining moment that immediately led to Price’s interest in and passion for wine.
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“Life is a bit circuitous,” she said. Price’s interest in acting led her to the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City. After she graduated, Price returned to Kentucky intent on getting a bachelor’s degree from the University of Louisville. She took the fast track to that degree. “I just wanted to be in and out,” she recalled. “I was a freshman in the spring of ’06, and I graduated in the second summer semester of ’07.” While at UofL, Price needed some walking-around money and ended up waiting tables at River Bend Winery in downtown Louisville. Located on the corner of 9th and
For more about Vanessa Price and The Vinum Collective, and to purchase Big Macs & Burgundy: Wine Pairings for the Real World, visit vinumco.com.
Wine expert Vanessa Price first became enchanted with the drink while working in a small Louisville winery. Main streets, the now-defunct winery was named for its location at a bend in the Ohio River. “Something happened there,” she said. “I just started to become enamored with the culture of wine. There was a thing around it. You go to a wine bar or a good restaurant, and there’s just a way that people behave; there’s like this je ne sais quoi. “Then I started to learn more about it, and there’s so much that’s based in history and art and science. I love that it was a mix of all different walks of life, like the tasting of a diverse landscape of human beings … And I just sort of fell in love with it.”
It was a turning point. “I moved back to New York, and I thought, ‘Well, maybe I’m not going to be an actor; maybe I’m going to be a wine person, a sommelier.’ At the time, I didn’t quite know what a sommelier was.” Price soon discovered that a sommelier (pronounced “suh-muhl-YAY”) manages a restaurant’s wine program, and she achieved that goal. She worked as a sommelier on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and obtained her Level 4 Diploma in Wines from the London-based Wine & Spirit Education Trust, which she described as similar to getting a master’s degree in another
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field. She went on to teach wine classes at Columbia University and for the Wine & Spirit Education Trust; manage wine-related public relations for clients; write about wine for New York magazine; work as a distributer and importer; and consult with bars, restaurants and private collectors. To manage her varied projects, Price founded The Vinum Collective, an allthings-wine entity. “Basically, it is an overarching umbrella that I’ve created under which all the things I do go. So, whether it’s writing, education, hospitality, art—because I create art in the spectrum of wine,” she said. “I’m working
on several hospitality projects in New York. I’m working to democratize wine without losing the art or the essence of what wine is.” To that end, Price penned a book on wine basics and wine pairings titled Big Macs & Burgundy: Wine Pairings for the Real World. Released in October 2020 and co-written with Adam Laukuf, the book serves to make wine more approachable. “I think this thing has exceeded my wildest dreams,” Price said with a laugh of the book’s success. “I remember the day I woke up and Page Six had done a piece on how my book was beating Obama’s [the former president’s memoir A Promised Land, published in November 2020]. And I thought, ‘This is just silly. How did we get to this place?’ So, it’s been good.” Price’s most recent project is serving as managing partner in developing a restaurant and boutique hotel in Montauk, Long Island. While construction was delayed for about a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was slated to begin in April, with an opening planned for the spring of 2022. Price also is partnering with Dan Abrams of ABC News and Live PD on a winery Abrams purchased on the North Fork of Long Island. He brought Price on board as managing partner to develop a new iteration of the vineyard and bring the winery back to life. “Lots of fingers in lots of pots” is how Price described her life these days.
F O L LO W O N I N S TAG R A M
THE BOOK Curious as to which wine deliciously complements a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a bucket of KFC chicken, or a Hostess Twinkie? You can find out in Vanessa Price’s book, Big Macs & Burgundy: Wine Pairings for the Real World. Co-authored with Adam Laukuf, Big Macs shows readers that one doesn’t need to be a food or wine snob to enjoy exceptional pairings in which the food and wine bring out the best in each other. Charming illustrations, stunning photography and humorous anecdotes from Price about her life in the world of wine punctuate this delightful book. For more on the book, including information on where to purchase it, visit bigmacsandburgundy.com.
“One of the things that drove me crazy when I first got into wine was that I had to choose either the really fancy snobbiness or the sort of remedial, silly ‘wine for dummies’—the coffee mugs that say, ‘This could have wine in it,’ ” she said. “There’s probably a world somewhere in between those two where we can presume that folks are smart, but they maybe don’t know that much about wine … So, with all the things that I do, I try to hit that mark.” Q k e n t u c k y m o n t h l y. c o m 25
DIY Cocktails BY DEBORAH KOHL KREMER
hen the pandemic hit, and bars and restaurants closed down, those in the alcohol industry were, with good reason, worried how this would affect their businesses. But as the regulations rolled out, alcohol was deemed essential, and liquor sales boomed. This led to the popularity of making cocktails from home, as people couldn’t go to their favorite watering hole for a drink. The timing worked out well for Tim Jones, founder and owner of Gents Original, a Lexington company that produces cocktail mixes. When asked how they got started, Jones laughed and said he and his wife, Jessica, like to drink a lot. But kidding aside, they had been fans of the beverage industry for many years and always made cocktails at home. In 2014, the couple came up with a soda called Gents Original Toasted Oak Ginger Ale, which they sold at local farmers markets. But as they got to know their customers, Tim and Jessica realized that people were using it as the first ingredient in a mixed drink. “It was mixing really well with bourbon,” Tim said. “So, we experimented for a few years and eventually migrated to 100 percent cocktail mixes.” Gents products include bottled mixes for classic oldfashioneds, gingery mules, and
juleps with just the right hint of mint. The couple’s Kentucky roots are extremely important to them and provide the backbone of their business.
name on anything unless they believe in it.”
“We’re both born and raised here in Kentucky, so bourbon is really important to us,” Jones said. “If I put anything in my bourbon, I’m going to make sure it is great.”
“One thing about making cocktails is that somebody turns 21 every day,” he said. “We have a new group of folks coming into market all the time.”
Gents is a Kentucky Proud product, which means the ingredients are fresh and locally sourced. Production takes place in a small space behind The Burl arcade and concert venue in Lexington’s distillery district. Everything is made, bottled and labeled there, with a staff of three to six people, depending on the season.
Jones predicts there will be one or two new products this year. “We’ll keep it pretty tight and not get super trendy on flavors” he said. “We will just try to make some really classic, versatile products so you can use them in a lot of different ways.”
Gents got a big boost when some Kentucky distilleries noticed and tasted the mixes. It started with Castle & Key Distillery in Frankfort, which combined Gents cocktail mixes with its gins and vodkas for its tour visitors and began selling the mixes in the gift shop. Soon, Gents was creating unique mixes for Buffalo Trace, Heaven Hill, Evan Williams, Larceny and Elijah Craig, with more on the way. While the mixes are produced by Gents, they are labeled to reflect the distillery or bourbon. “I have been really proud of the mixes, and when the distilleries put their name on it, I know they feel exactly the same way,” Jones said. “They are not going to put their
26 K E N T U CK Y M O NT H LY D RINK LOCA L
As for the future, Jones is optimistic.
Gents is not carried by large retailers and is sold in distillery gift shops, in small liquor stores and online. Jones believes growth will come in the form of partnerships with more distilleries. Jones said producing Gents mixes remains a side job, as he continues to work full time as executive creative director at Cornett, a Lexington advertising agency. In January, the couple opened a restaurant in Lexington called Boonedogs, featuring hot dogs with dressy toppings, artisan sausages, and—you guessed it—cocktails. A wide variety of work keeps Tim and Jessica busy, but they don’t mind. “So as long as the cocktail boom is happening, and folks are interested, I think we’re going to be OK,” Tim said. Q
With Gents Original mixes, anyone can be a home bartender
To order Gents Original online, visit gentsoriginal.com. k e n t u c k y m o n t h l y. c o m 27
Drink + Eat Local
Dudley’s on Short Bluegrass Region DUDLEY’S ON SHORT 259 West Short Street Lexington, 859.252.1010
WRIGLEY TAPROOM & EATERY 207 South Main Street Corbin, 606.261.7344
Also in Louisville and Lexington
109 West Main Street Frankfort, 502.871.5070
610 West Magnolia Avenue Louisville, 502.636.0783
THE GOOSE & GANDER
THE FAT LAMB
133 East Main Street Midway, 859.846.9933
2011 Grinstead Drive Louisville, 502.409.7499 fatlamblouisville.com
MONNIK BEER CO. 1036 East Burnett Avenue Louisville, 502.742.6564
OLD TALBOTT TAVERN
214 South Water Street Georgetown, 502.642.8998
BEEHIVE TAVERN 101 West Riverside Drive Augusta, 606.756.2137 beehiveaugustatavern.com
BOUQUET RESTAURANT 519 Main Street Covington, 859.491.7777 bouquetrestaurant.com
Southern Region CHARRED OAK GRILL
110 Summit at Fritz Farm Lexington, 859.469.8234
The Fat Lamb
305 East Mt. Vernon Street Somerset, 606.451.7935
GERARD’S 1907 TAVERN 935 College Street Bowling Green, 270.904.8133 gerards1907tavern.com
Western Region THE FREIGHT HOUSE
107 W. Stephen Foster Avenue Bardstown, 502.348.3494
330 South 3rd Street Paducah, 270.908.0006 freighthousefood.com
OLD OWL TAVERN
THE RICKHOUSE RESTAURANT & LOUNGE
1793 J.H. O’Bryan Avenue Grand Rivers, 270.362.8844
Spalding Hall, 112 Xavier Drive Bardstown, 502.348.2832
THE MILLER HOUSE
301 East 5th Street Owensboro, 270.685.5878
1441 Winchester Ave Ashland, 606.327.1125
THE BAKER’S TABLE
638 Beaumont Inn Drive Harrodsburg, 859.734.0559 beaumontinn.com
PATTI’S 1880’S SETTLEMENT
1004 Monmouth Street Newport, 859.261.1941 bakerstablenewport.com
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WHERE TIME PASSES SLOWLY E AG L E C RE EK V I NEYA R D TA S T I N G RO O M N E E L E Y FA M I LY D I S T I L L ERY J E WE L L’ S O N M A I N HO ME TOWN P I ZZA MR. T ’ S L I Q U O R LO N G O S BA R S UN S E T G RI L L D I E T Z TAV E R N HA MMY’ S RES TAU R A NT & BA R
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Purple Toad Winery is the largest winery in Kentucky and continues to push the boundaries in Kentucky’s wine industry.
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