Bourbon-infused Father’s Day Gift Ideas

Father’s Day always comes too quickly for me. I struggle with what to get my dad every year.  If only he was a bourbon drinker, it would be so easy!  If you happen to have a bourbon-lover in your life who also happens to be a dad, you are lucky.  Your gift options seem endless, and there are gifts that can had for as little as a Hamilton. Or you can try and buy your father’s love with items that will set you back thousands of dollars!

If dear old Dad had been a whiskey drinker, here are ten of the gifts I would have considered buying for him this Father’s Day:

1. A bottle of Elijah Craig bourbon (prices vary, purchased at your local liquor store).

2. Bourbon Curious: A Simple Tasting Guide For the Savvy Drinker by Fred Minnick ($14.02 – $ 22.99)

3. A subscription to The Bourbon Review ($19.99 print & digital)

4. Bourbon Is A Vegetable T-shirt from the Kentucky Bourbon Trail online store ($24.95)

5. Barrel-aged Pure Maple Syrup aged in Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon Barrels from Pappy & Company ($38)

6. True Cubes Ice Cube Tray ($45)

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7. Eat Your Bourbon – Gourmet Grilling Gift Box from Bourbon Barrel Foods ($70)

8. Reclaimed Whiskey Barrel Wrist Watch from Bourbon & Boots ($199)

Reclaimed Whiskey Barrel Wrist Watch image

9. Picnic Time Manahattan Cocktail Travel Bar through Target ($143.99)

10. Executive Bourbon Steward Course with the Stave and Thief Society at Moonshine University ($500/individual)

I hope your hunt for the perfect Father’s Day gift was made a bit easier with these suggestions.  And if you have any ideas for my teetotaler-dad, let me know!


The Start of the 2015 Kentucky Bourbon Affair

Over the last year, Chris, my bourbon BFF, and I have saved our pennies to attend what is hailed as “The Ultimate Bourbon Fantasy Camp”. Though, the official name is the Kentucky Bourbon Affair (KYBA). It is five wonderful days of bourbon-centric events. The daytime events are more likely to involve distillery tours – amped up, of course. The “night cap” events are bourbon parties or bourbon dinners. The events begin today, and I am so excited I could tinkle!

In February, there were 50 Golden Tickets available for purchase, and Chris and I each snagged one before they sold out (in only 6 hours!). One of the benefits of the Golden Tickets is you can pick which events you want to attend before the general public gets a shot at them. It won’t guarantee that your top event won’t be sold out by they time you get to it, but it increases your chances. I really (really, really, REALLY) wanted to attend the Michter’s Rare Tasting and Tour on Saturday morning. Knowing that event would sell out quickly was THE reason I splurged on the Golden Ticket. And I got in. Yes, yes, YES!

Why did I want to attend this event so badly? I love their bourbons, especially their hard-to-come-by 20-year old that I tried at last year’s inaugural KYBA. As Chris would say, “it’s smack yo momma good.” Plus, here is a description for the event:

Don’t miss this rare “celebration” at Michter’s new distillery, the first time it’s been opened to the general public. Tour and taste Michter’s small batch and single barrel brands, including Celebration, the distillery’s luxury sour mash offering blended from special barrels over 20 and 30 years old. Hand-label your own souvenir bottle of Michter’s on the bottling line and enjoy signature cocktails and a Bourbon-inspired lunch.

Michter’s, you had me at Celebration. Ok, maybe it was because I saw “rare”, “hand-label”, and “souvenir bottle”. Either way, I will be there, and I’ll be savoring that Celebration.

So what am I doing later that day, and on the other days of this bourbon fantasy camp? Today I start at Wild Turkey for a private barrel selection, followed by the opening event, called Bourbon Under the Rocks, being held literally under the city in the Louisville Mega Caverns. How cool is that?! Thursday is my Heaven Hill day. In the morning I’ll be at Heaven Hill to find my “Single Barrel Soul-mate”. In the evening I’ll be dining “with three generations of the Shapira family, founders and owners of Heaven Hill Brands, in the Speakeasy lounge at the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience.”

I’m hoping for a bit of luck on Friday morning, as I’ll be fishing with Chris and the Noe Family. Jim Beam Master Distiller Fred Noe will take us to his father’s, Booker Noe’s, favorite fishing hole. Chris and I continue our day together at Bill Samuel’s home for a Maker’s Mark Southern Style Crab & Crawfish Boil. You already know what I’m doing Saturday morning. The night cap event is the closing event called CasaBourblanca, being held, but where else? Bowman Airfield. I love that – such clever folks behind the KYBA, right? And let’s not forget about Sunday’s “send-off” event at Waterfront Park… Polo on the Waterfront.

Phew! I’m going to be exhausted at the end of the week, but knowing how much I loved last year’s events, I know it will be well worth it.


2015 KYBA Swag

The Bourbon Classic Taste

Kentucky by Copper & Kings

Copper & Kings Brandy Distillery’s Kentucky

It’s winter, and it’s gotten brutal… record-setting snowstorms and record cold. To distract me from the misery that Mother Nature has bestowed upon us, I signed up to attend the Bourbon Classic kickoff event, called the Bourbon Classic Taste. There was going to be bourbon tastings and great food provided by Chef Ed Lee and Lady Fingers Catering.

The event was held on Tuesday, February 17 2015, in the newly opened Copper and Kings American Brandy Distillery. It’s located in Butchertown, just east of downtown Louisville, with a great view of the city’s lights. Julian Van Winkle, the President of Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery, was on hand to share with us his very exclusive, and very elusive, bourbons. All attendees got one ticket for each of the following: 12- year Van Winkle Special Reserve, 15-year Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve, and 20-year Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve. Of those, the 15-year old Van Winkle Family Reserve was my favorite. I tend to prefer higher proof bourbons, and this 107 proof was no exception – beating out the other two 90 proof drinks.

But let’s not forget, there were other bourbons and spirits on hand. Besides Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare, E.H. Taylor, W.L. Weller, Four Roses Small Batch, Four Roses Single Barrel, and Michter’s Bourbons, there was 1000 Stories (Bourbon-barrel aged) Zinfandel, and brandies from Copper & Kings. My favorite drink of the night was the Michter’s Straight Rye. My whiskey of choice is Rye, so that was no surprise. But, the 1000 Stories wine pleasantly surprised me; it was very drinkable, and I can see buying a few bottles for when guests come to visit.

While I did not partake in the sliders that Chef Lee prepared from whole hog, the food provided by Lady Finger Catering was delicious. I’ve been to other events they’ve catered as well, and have always been impressed with their food and service. The party was a lot of fun, no doubt inspired by lots of free-flowing spirits. I hope the Bourbon Classic Taste becomes an annual event. It’s one that I would love to attend again.

Lady Finger Catering desserts

I prefer to drink my desserts, but these were delicious!


Dessert in a bottle.

Bourbon - my kind of dessert.

If Pappy Van Winkle bourbons aren’t your thing, here are more great options.

Buffalo Trace e-cards

You know, I feel like Buffalo Trace (BT) gets me, just really understands me.  I don’t have to explain myself; I don’t have to act differently around BT; and BT makes me laugh. Check out the e-cards they post on facebook for a giggle.

Tonight, I’m raising a glass of Buffalo Trace to Buffalo Trace.


Buffalo at BT

Buffalo Trace makes for a better bourbon name than Moose Juice, don’t you think?

For fans of Facebook foodie photos.

Yes, I post a ton of pictures of food on Facebook. Sure I get shit for that, which makes me laugh. You post a ton of pictures of your kids, dogs, cats, art projects, selfies, self-improvement quotes, political statements, or whatever strikes your fancy. That’s what makes us individuals.

For those that actually do “like” my Culinary journaling, thank you for your love. I will continue to like those God-awful posts of yours too.

Today’s post was inspired by our stay in Miami, where you go to see and be seen, whether at a James Beard award winning restaurant, or the hottest South Beach club. You know if you aren’t judging someone, they are very likely judging you, just like on the interweb of life called Facebook.





Gazpacho, my love

Right now I have many loves… travel, food, bourbon, did I mention travel or food? Or bourbon? Well, maybe I only have three loves (not counting family). Right now one of my food obsessions is gazpacho. You know, that cold soup made up of pureed peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions. It’s the perfect summer soup, and it’s such a forgiving recipe that can easily be tweaked to suit your taste.

Just waiting for the onions to join the party.

Just waiting for the onions to join the party.

My food processor is over 20 years old, and I think the blades are pretty dull. It does the job, but leaves my gazpacho with tiny bits of pepper skin throughout the soup, it’s not nearly as creamy as what I can get at my favorite place to dine: Seviche, A Latin Restaurant. Plus, Seviche adds fresh crab to the soup, and a hearty dose of jalapeno spice.

Seviche's wonderful gazpacho.

Seviche’s wonderful gazpacho.

Today’s post is inspired by summer, when fresh fruits and veggies are abundant at your local farmer’s market. Cheers!

Homemade gazpacho.

Why dirty a spoon when you can drink homemade gazpacho from a wine glass? Cheers!

One if by land, two if by sea

“All travel has its advantages. If the passenger visits better countries, he may learn to improve his own. And if fortune carries him to worse, he may learn to enjoy it.” – Samuel Johnson

For the third time in as many years, My Guy and I have sailed in and around Europe to explore its many great countries and cities. While MG has been on other cruises (some for work, some for pleasure), the cruise in 2012 to the Western Mediterranean (which I can never seem to spell correctly without checking first) was my first cruise.

I was a bit apprehensive as I imagined getting seasick as soon as we set sail. Thankfully, that was an unrealized worry. And I was immediately hooked on cruising. The biggest benefit to cruising for me is the floating hotel aspect, allowing me to unpack just once for all of the nations I visit. Each subsequent cruise, I have packed less and less, but I still don’t want to have to pack and unpack for each new place. Therefore, a cruise is ideal for me.

In the summer of 2013 we cruised to the Baltics and Russia. This year’s cruise was the fjords of Iceland, the Faroe Islands, and Norway, and my favorite cruise. It may be because it is most recent in my memory. It may be because of my familiarity of Celebrity cruise ships, first having sailed on the Solstice in 2012 and then the Eclipse in 2013 and 2014. Or perhaps, it was this year’s pre-cruise destination that marks this year’s European adventure as my favorite… I mean, it doesn’t get much more magical than Paris. But Paris is a story for another time.

So why was this the best cruise (yet)? Iceland was stunning, and didn’t need the romance of a rich history to win me over. The beauty of each town and city surrounded me, and I was moved by the serenity of the diverse landscapes, from barren moonscapes to lush meadows, from gentle streams to raging waterfalls, from sheer cliffs to snowy glaciers.

I cannot imagine a life without traveling, either by land, sea, or air. I enjoy experiencing new cultures, new foods, and new sights. And yet, there are some people who don’t enjoy to travel at all, even within their own town. I’m not sure I could ever understand those people. If you are that person, maybe you can try to explain to me why you dislike travel.

If you enjoy traveling, tell me your favorite mode of transportation and your favorite destination(s). At this point in my life, I truly enjoy cruising. Paris may be my favorite city, but Iceland is my hands-down favorite country.

Today’s post was inspired by High West Distillery’s Barreled Boulevardier. It reminds me of Paris, my favorite European city. From the High West website:

“Erskine Gwynne, the creator of the Boulevardier Cocktail, moved to Paris and began The Boulevardier, a monthly magazine patterned after The New Yorker, catering to the upper-class expatriate. Its contributors included such luminaries as Joyce, Hemingway, Thomas Wolfe, and Sinclair Lewis. Literally speaking, a Boulevardier was a wealthy and fashionable man who had knowledge of advanced cultural pursuits and frequented Parisian boulevards, New York City, and possibly Park Avenue (Park City!).”

Paris, someday… soon

I’m searching the web for the “best restaurants in Paris”, “best tartare in Paris”, and “best cocktail bars in Paris”. Taking a break from so many lists, I peruse social media and see the article “French strikes: Air traffic controllers, shop assistants to join the inaction.” Huh? Gulp. When?

With only a week before My Guy and I leave for a 21-day European trip, and with our first stop being Paris, today’s news of the impending air traffic controller strike has me a little concerned. If only because Paris is a city I have longed to visit, and a city I knew, ever since I was a child, I would visit.  My inner-me is doing my best imitation of a child’s whiney voice “I don’t want to miss a day in Paris” (foot stomp, arms crossed, pouty lip).

Honestly, I have no idea if, or how, our flight might be affected. And as with any trip, we will be flexible for you never know what experiences change will bring.

“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” – Lao Tzu


Today’s post is inspired by the American drink with the French name, the Vieux Carré. Cheers!Image