The first Bourbon Classic, billed as a rare, interactive opportunity to experience all facets of bourbon education and enjoyment, will take place March 22 and 23 at the Kentucky Center.
Events will include a “Cocktail Challenge,” From the Barrel to the Bar; a general session showcasing master distillers; “Bourbon Classic University” educational sessions; and the Ultimate Bourbon Experience, with exhibits and tastings from vendors. Several area chefs and bartenders will take part.
Eight teams of master bartenders will be matched with a chef and sponsor distillery to vie for the title of perfect cocktail in a competition March 22. Chefs participating and the sponsoring bourbon are Shawn Ward of Jack Fry’s (Michter’s), Patrick Roney of The Oakroom (Heaven Hill), Jeff McInnis of Yardbird Southern Table in Miami (Buffalo Trace), Levon Wallace of Proof (Blanton’s), Jonathan Lundy of Jonathan at Gratz Park in Lexington (Alltech), Anthony Lamas of Seviche (Four Roses), Tyler Powell of St. Charles Exchange (Jim Beam) and Josh Moore of Volare (Maker’s Mark).
A panel of judges including Noah Rothbaum of Liquor.com, Edward Lee and Joy Perrine will rate the cocktails, and attendees will judge the small plates that accompany the cocktails.
Ouita Michael of Holly Hill Inn in Midway will present a “Balance and Flavor, Bourbon and Chocolate: Creating the Perfect Pairings” session on March 23.
This is the first year for the event, and organizers hope to make it a tradition. “We are so excited to host an event that brings all the rock stars of the bourbon world together, right here in our hometown,” says co-founder Tony Butler. “No place brings together bourbon, culture and cuisine quite like Louisville.”
Prices begin at $135 for standard tickets to the Friday night event and range up to $355 for VIP tickets to both days’ events. More information: http://bourbonclassic.com/.
Sidebar set to open
Sidebar, a restaurant featuring bourbon, burgers and beer, will open in April at 129 N. Second St., in Whiskey Row.
“It’s three great, approachable American products. The emphasis is on bourbons first,” says operating partner Richard Ruth, formerly general manager at St. Charles Exchange. “We want it to be just as much a bar as a place to get great food.”
Sidebar’s “small kitchen will have a focused menu,” pared down to eight sandwiches, four appetizers and two desserts, plus milkshakes (some of which will feature bourbon).
Burgers will range from $10 to $14. Sidebar selected Certified Angus Beef as its hamburger partner, and “Sysco Louisville will play a key role in supplying the specifically created blended product of chuck, brisket and short rib. It’s different than anyone in the country,” Ruth says.
The cocktail program will be the only one in town to focus on barrel-aged cocktails, according to Ruth. The aging process “softens the drink, adds caramel and vanilla notes to a high-proof spirit, and gives it great balance.”
As for the name? “We liked the way it suggested a meeting of intelligent people for a purpose, but out of the purview of judgment,” explains Ruth. In a play on the legal meaning, the menu is grouped into Preliminary Hearing, Trial and Verdict; desserts include Death by Chocolate and the Electric Chair, which will change seasonally.
Sidebar will sponsor a team of runners for the April 27 miniMarathon with proceeds going to the Family Scholarship House as well as host a party that evening with live music, all proceeds going to the same charity.
More information: www.sidebarwhiskeyrow.com.
El Camino tiki bar planned for the Highlands
The former Avalon property (1310-16 Bardstown Road) is “about to be completely gutted and turned into El Camino,” according to Shawn Cantley of the Silver Dollar, who has purchased the site with his wife, Vanessa.
The restaurant “will be inspired by the casual local hangouts of Southern California’s beach towns and SoCal surf culture,” he says. “I grew up in Southern California going to these great little locals/surfer hangouts. I wanted to try to replicate that feel here in Louisville.”
El Camino will feature Mexican street food, a tiki-style bar program and surf music on vinyl. A little Mexican tienda (market) and bakery will go into the space next door (in the former boutique), with retail plus Mexican coffees and hot chocolates, baked goods and grab-and-go food from the restaurant.
“Our chef (Jonathan Schwartz) just got back from a two-week trip to Mexico, where he spent most of his time with his mother-in-law, a chef who has a restaurant in Cancun,” Cantley says.
Cantley is on the West Coast this week. “I’m currently on a ‘research trip’ with my business partner, Larry Rice,” Cantley says. “Larry has a lot of friends in the artisanal bartending community, and we’re out here meeting with some of the best tiki-style bar people in the country and checking out what they’re doing.”
Opening is planned for August. More information: www.facebook.com/ElCaminoLouisville.
Kaelin’s Coffeehouse has opened at 1801 Newburg Road and will hold a grand opening Wednesday. The shop serves lunch, dinner, in-house baked cookies, muffins and pies and will offer breakfast beginning Wednesday.
Fans of the now-closed Stan’s Fish Fry can have Stan’s fish sandwiches at the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church (502 N. Fifth St., LaGrange) Lenten Fish Fry today and March 22. Serving time is 4:30-7:30 p.m.
The “spring equinox” menu at Harvest, 624 E. Market St., is under way, featuring burgoo, a Hot Brown burger, buttermilk fried chicken livers, smoked pepper bacon with cornmeal Johnny cakes and a BBQ plate.
321 Deli (a New York-style deli) and 2 Dips and a Shake (featuring Comfy Cow ice cream) opened at 321 W. Main St. this week.
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