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Monte Carlo

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Since I just finished giving you a tour of Kentucky, I thought I’d bring you a cocktail that’s made with rye. I know that Kentucky is the bourbon capital of the world, but plenty of the distilleries also make rye: Woodford, Bulleit, Wild Turkey… they all have rye.

Rye may not be bourbon, but they’re closely related. While bourbon needs to be made with at least 51% corn, rye needs to be made with 51% rye. It’s then combined with other grains and placed into new charred oak barrels, just like bourbon. But unlike bourbon which is usually a sweeter, richer alcohol, rye tends to be on the drier, spicier side.  What’s all this have to do with today’s cocktail?

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Well, the Monte Carlo is really just a Manhattan made with rye and Benedictine instead of bourbon and sweet vermouth. So, if you find the Manhattan not to your liking, give the Monte Carlo a try. It’s definitely sweeter thanks to the Benedictine which is a sweeter, herbal alcohol. When mixed with the rye it adds quite a nice flavor. I myself am not a huge fan of the Manhattan – they’re just too strong for me – but when I sipped the Monte Carlo, I fell in love.

In case you’re thinking the Monte Carlo is just another new twist on a classic like the Basil Lemondrop of the Pomegranate Margarita, I’m here to tell you it’s legitimate. I mean, it wouldn’t be part of my classic cocktails if it weren’t. The Monte Carlo can be found in David Embury’s The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks from 1948. But just because it was published in 1948 doesn’t necessarily mean it was created in 1948. In fact, odds are the cocktail was created long before that, though I couldn’t tell you when or by whom.

So, the next time you’re thinking of drinking a newfangled twist on a classic, why not enjoy a classic twist instead. Trust me, you’ll definitely be more satisfied.

close up

Monte Carlo

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. rye
  • 3/4 oz. Benedictine
  • 2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
  • Maraschino cherry

Directions:

  1. Pour the rye, Benedictine and bitters in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously for at least a minute. Strain into a cocktail glass, add the cherry and serve.

One more post on Kentucky then Kitchy will go back to recipes and cocktails… I promise. But if you’re going to Kentucky for the Derby, you’re going to need a place to stay, right? While you could stay at a very nice, fancy hotel, Hubs and I prefer Bed & Breakfasts. We’ve always liked them because the places are usually much smaller (only 5 – 10 rooms at most), and the breakfasts are always out of this world. Since we were all over the state, we stayed in 3 different B&B’s, and since the Derby is in Louisville, I’ll start there.

inside and outside of Tucker house

After much research, we decided to stay at 1840 Tucker House. It was a few minutes outside of the city, but nice and quiet and absolutely gorgeous. The antebellum house was commissioned by Hazael and Nancy Jane Tucker in 1840 and is currently on the National Register of Historic Places. Hubs and I stayed in the Traveler’s Room which was upstairs. It’s called the Traveler’s Room because it was customary at that time for travelers to stop at strangers’ homes and ask for a room for the night. So, the Traveler’s Room was the original Bed and Breakfast room. We had our own entrance so we could come and go as we pleased, which was helpful since we returned from 610 Magnolia late our first night. It also included a private deck with a table and chairs so if we wanted to (and if it had been warmer), we could’ve enjoyed a glass of wine or coffee out on the deck while staring at the beautiful view.

kitchen at Tuckerhouse

Innkeepers Devona & Steve Porter keep a very clean house and serve a phenomenal breakfast. It was so good, in fact, that I purchased the cook book, Room at the Table, which has several recipes from Devona and Tucker House. The Porters are kind and considerate and very attentive. Anything I needed, Devona was happy to provide. Hubs and I had such a good time and were so comfortable at Tucker House, we would absolutely stay there again. Hopefully for a longer visit.

Since we were doing the whole Bourbon Trail, we couldn’t spend all our time at Tucker House. So, we bid adieu and moved on to Bardstown where we stayed at another beautiful antebellum house, the Bourbon Manor Bed and Breakfast. There are 6 rooms and they’re all huge. We stayed in the Hotty Toddy, named after the classic bourbon cocktail because it’s yellow and warm. The classic room has a large 4-post king size bed and plenty of room for a sofa and table.

What makes Bourbon Manor special isn’t just the rooms and the attentiveness of the staff. They turned the stablehouse in the back into a full bar. There’s music and tables and they open it up after dinner for drinking and dancing. It’s beautiful and so much fun and absolutely not what you’d expect from a B&B. But if the lively bar isn’t enough for you to stay at this delightful manor, the breakfast the next morning will definitely make you want to return. We started with what Todd Allen (one of the hosts and owners of Bourbon Manor) called a Between the Sheets which was scrambled eggs baked between two pieces of puff pastry and topped with country gravy. It was served with Garlic Parmesan Potatoes and fresh fruit of the season.  That would have been filling enough, but in case there was any room left, they had dessert as well.  Dessert for breakfast? You betcha. It was a cinnamon crumble muffin drizzled with caramel bourbon sauce. I was so full, I could only eat half, but oh, my god, it was soooo good. I wish we could have stayed longer, but Woodford Reserve, in Versailles was waiting, so off we went to our final destination: Lexington.

guest house

We did things a little differently in Lexington. Yes, we still stayed at a Bed & Breakfast, but unlike the other two which were just houses on their own, this time, we stayed at a guesthouse on a Thoroughbred farm. That’s right, I said farm. Since Lexington is right in the middle of horse country and home to Keeneland (the other horse race of Kentucky), Hubs and I thought it only appropriate that we stay among the horses for at least one night. If you’re in Kentucky for the Derby and want to trip out to Lexington, than you must stay at Rosecrest Farm.

A couple towns over from Lexington, Rosecrest Farm is located in the small town of Paris. The guesthouse is small and charming with a total of four bedrooms, a cute little kitchen, living room and dining room. While the guesthouse is lovely, it’s actually the surrounding farm, that makes this B&B unlike any other. Upon our arrival, Lyra Miller (one of the owners) greeted us and gave us a tour of the grounds. We got to see the barn and pet and feet the horses. But there’s no riding. Every horse that stays at Rosecrest is a thoroughbred, they’re all either being trained or taking a break between races. But just because we can’t ride the horses doesn’t mean we can’t walk around whenever we like and pet and feed them, hence the tour. Lyra doesn’t want any of her guests getting lost on the expansive farm during their stay. The whole experience was wonderful and Lyra was the perfect hostess.

horses at Rosecrest Farm

Since we were the only ones staying at the farm (because it was a weekday and all the guests had just left) we got to pick when wake up and breakfast was. So right at the requested time, Lyra served up some delicious scotch eggs, baked cinnamon apples, toast and some of the best coffee I think I’ve ever had. It was so good in fact, we drove into Paris and made a special stop at Lil’s Coffee House on our way out of town just to so we could bring a couple pounds home with us. All in all the stay at Rosecrest Farm, while short, was absolutely delightful. I can’t wait to go back.

So, no matter what town you’re staying in while visiting the Derby or the Bourbon Trail, there’s definitely going to be a Bed & Breakfast to suit your fancy. As I said, Hubs and I only got to stay in three while we were there. But each one was memorable and will definitely host us again, whenever we return.

framed restaurants

Since I gave you a tour of the distilleries last week, today I’m going to continue with some of the best restaurants around the state.

The first is actually in Louisville, and it’s one of the best meals I’ve ever had. Where is this amazing place? It’s 610 Magnolia, named after its address in the heart of Old Louisville. The restaurant comes from Edward Lee, a favorite on Top Chef: Texas. Since I’m a huge fan of Top Chef, I was adamant that Hubs and I go. We weren’t disappointed.

pork tasting

As a guest, you can choose either a 4 course prix-fixe or a 6 course prix-fixe menu. Hubs and I chose the 4 course. The menu changes weekly depending on what’s in season and available at the surrounding farms. But if our meal is any indication, it won’t matter whether you’re having fish, beef or pasta, it’s all going to be outstanding.

We each started with the 610 BLT which is a bite-sized version of the very popular sandwich, and just enough to whet our appetite. (Not that our appetite needed much whetting, we started drooling as soon as we looked at the menu.) Then I got the Beef Cheek Tagliatella with a poached Quail Egg on top while Hubs enjoyed the Rivercrest Farm Rabbit with Peas and Carrots. The beef was nice and tender and the tagliatella was perfectly aldente. The Crudo of Summer Flounder with watermelon was a wonderful, light surprise, especially since I’m not really a flounder fan and Hubs’ Pho Broth with Grilled Florida Prawns and PEI Mussels was a little spicy for my taste, but had some great flavor. The main courses of lamb and duck were equally well received and almost filled us up. But of course we had just enough room for the chocolate mousse and salted caramel corn cake desserts.

meat 610

I know four courses (really five if you count the bite-sized BLT) sounds like a lot. But the first two were really only a couple bites leaving ample room for the main courses of lamb and duck. Finishing off the meal with a few bites of sweetness, was the perfect way to top us off. If you’re staying in or nearby Lousiville for the Derby, 610 is an absolute must! But make your reservations now. It’s a small restaurant with quite the romantic atmosphere so the place fills up quickly.

If you’re looking for something a little more hip, there’s Proof on Main. Since Hubs and I had spent the afternoon enjoying bourbon-based nibbles at Maker’s Mark, we decided to just pop in have dessert. We picked Proof because a good friend recommended the restaurant. Brightly lit and full of modern art, Proof is as much about the food as it is about the atmosphere. From all the oohs and aahhs surrounding our table, we knew the food was going to be good. The desserts were awesome. Hubs had the Apple Dumplings and I had the Chocolate Goo Cake. Unlike your standard Chocolate Molten Cake, this one was served with Salted Caramel gelato and was the perfect finish to a bowl full of hot chocolate decadence. Hubs’ dumplings were served with homemade vanilla ice cream and were also amazing.

framed proof dessert combo

But what was most interesting about the locale was the fact that the restaurant is part of a modern art gallery. A gallery that you actually have to walk through to get to the restroom. And while this may be a little TMI, the bathrooms are absolutely not to be missed, especially the men’s room. No, I didn’t sneak in there, but I heard from Hubs it was one of the most bizarre experiences he’s ever been through. I can’t describe it, but according to him it puts a new spin on spying. So yes, the men’s room is definitely worth a visit, even if it’s just to wash your hands.

If you’re lucky enough to stay an extra day or two and want to venture outside of Louisville, Bardstown is an excellent town to visit. Not only is it the bourbon capital of the world, the quaint little town is filled with antique stores and a couple wonderful restaurants. One is an historical landmark and the other isn’t even a year old, but both are worth a taste.

talbot inn

The Old Talbot Tavern is wonderful for a quick snack or a nip of bourbon. Hubs and I already had dinner plans, but stopped in for an afternoon snack. Since we were living it up Southern style we knew we had to try the Southern Fried Sampler. It’s just what you think it is: a plate full of fried green tomatoes, fried pickles and fried banana peppers. Each and every batter-dipped fruit, was better than the last. And the ranch dipping sauce gave it just the right amount of kick needed.

While Talbot has the history and hauntings to give the tavern its fame, there’s another, much younger restaurant that is sure to be as popular and famous if the food we had is any indication. That restaurant is the Harrison-Smith House. Started by Justin Hughes, Chef Josh Smouse and Rachel and Newman Miller, the team strive to bring all the local meats, fruits and vegetables of Kentucky to each and every one of their dishes and cocktails. Hubs and I weren’t disappointed.

team behind HSH

We started with the HSH Ham Salad Flatbread with pickles and mustard. This was like nothing I’d ever had before. It’s just like tuna salad except made with ham. Served on toasted flatbread, this appetizer was a meal unto itself and well worth a taste. As a matter of fact, according to Hughes, this is a classic southern delicacy and if it’s on the menu, it’s not to be missed. For dinner Hubs had the Marinated Grilled Pork and I had the Crispy Chicken with Sweet Potato Hash. Oh My God, yummy! The pork was fork tender and that cornbread spatzel… I could eat it all day long. The chicken was delicious but the star was definitely the Sweet Potato Hash. I know it’s a side, but I love sweet potatoes and this was the best I’d ever had. Not only was the food out of this world delicious, Hughes and Miller were attentive, courteous and kind. If you only have 1 night in Bardstown, make sure dinner is at Harrison-Smith House.

HSH shredded ham

While I’m sure there are plenty of other restaurants in Kentucky, these are just the few that I was able to sample during our visit. All were wonderful and definitely worth a stop in.

combo of distilleries framed

A few months ago Hubs and I took a nice trip to Kentucky for our anniversary. As you all know we’re big bourbon fans and we wanted to do the Bourbon Trail, so off we went. Since the Kentucky Derby is only a few weeks away, I thought I’d share the best places to go if you plan on attending the “fastest 2 minutes in sports”.

While Kentucky is known for one of the most famous horse races in history, it’s also known for it’s bourbon. There may be several distilleries in Kentucky, but there’s only one Bourbon Trail. The trail makes it easy to go from one major distillery to the other. There are 10 on the Trail but another 9 Craft distilleries, not to mention the several distilleries that aren’t even on the trail. Anyway, if you’re making a visit to the bourbon capital of the world, you should absolutely make a point of visiting at least one or two of the distilleries. Since the Derby takes place in Louisville, let’s start there.

Evan Williams glass

In Louisville you’ll find both the Bulleit and Evan Williams distilleries. Bulleit wasn’t open to the public when Hubs and I went, so I can’t tell you what that tour is like. But we did visit the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience and I can tell you we had a blast. Unlike the other distilleries around the state, the Evan Williams experience is kind of like an amusement park. They’ve got a movie re-enactment that tells each visitor about Evan Williams and how he got his start in bourbon. Then at the end of the tour, you get to taste Evan Williams. It’s great and a lot of fun. But it wasn’t the best distillery on the tour.

4 roses

For that you have to travel a little further south. I’m not usually a Four Roses fan, but after their History of Bourbon Tour, that all changed. It wasn’t like all the other tours we’d been on where we learned how bourbon was made and where it came from. This tour was all about the history of Four Roses and how it got started. We never even set foot outside the giftshop. Instead we were led to the bar, where we got to taste everything. And I do mean everything. We started with the Yellow, which is ideal for mixing drinks. Then we segued to their small batch and finished with their Single Barrel. Or at least we thought we’d finished. After we’d tasted all three bourbons, they asked which our favorite was. When we picked the single barrel, the host pulled out three more bottles. All single barrel. Each one better than the last.

If you want to head even further south, Maker’s Mark is worth a look. Besides being a beautiful location (even in the rain), the tour I chose was special. Yes, I paid a little extra for it, but it was definitely worth it. Hubs and I did the Maker’s Mark After Dark tour. We got the tour after hours, which meant we were in the distillery after all the other tourists had gone. In the Sour Mash room we actually got to sip the White Dog – the colorless unaged distillate, just as it comes from the still and before it goes into the barrel for aging.

me drinking

Then once the tour was over but before we made our way to the gift shop, we got to sample a bunch of bourbon-based appetizers made specifically for our troupe. But the icing on the cake was dipping our own Maker’s bottles in the famous red wax. Did you know that each and every bottle of Maker’s is and dipped? It was awesome to watch and just a ton of fun in general.

Since I’m such a huge fan of Woodford Reserve we just had to make a stop at their distillery. Located in Versailles, in the heart of horse country, Woodford is absolutely gorgeous. Seated along a river, the rickhouses date all the way back to the 1800’s. I actually saw a doe nibbling at the grass as we drove in. The whole scene was something out of a Norman Rockwell painting. But what made this tour really special, was something no other distillery did. When you get to the tasting at the end of the tour, they don’t simply have you taste their bourbon. They have you do something called the triple taste.

Woodford tasting wheel

As it was explained, the point of the triple taste is so that you really get to sample the bourbon the way it was meant to be tasted. See most people when they taste, they can’t handle the strong burn that comes with it which is why a lot of people who aren’t bourbon drinkers stay away from the brown colored liquid. But if you get past that first burn and go for a second sip, you’ll really start to taste the flavors that come from the years the liquor aged in the barrel. Woodford actually has a flavor wheel to tell you what some of the different flavors are. That final sip is to discover the phenomenal finish that comes from both Woodford’s original bourbon and their Double Oaked. If you like new and unexpected bourbons, Hubs and I were treated to a special taste of Woodford’s Master’s Collection. This is their “what if” bourbon; ie: “what if we were to take our famous bourbon and then age it again but in pinot noir barrels from Sonoma”. Sound amazing? It probably is. They released this specific Master’s in November. It’s a limited release, so once they’re gone, they’re gone. But don’t worry, Woodford will release another Master’s Collection this year and I personally can’t wait to see what it is.

buffalo trace inset framed

I have to say my favorite distillery tour though was at a distillery that isn’t actually on the Bourbon Trail. It was the Buffalo Trace distillery.  Hubs and I took a tour that didn’t mention one aspect of how they make their bourbon (which was nice after hearing over and over and that bourbon is made from at least 51% corn mash). This tour was all about ghosts. Yup, turns out the Buffalo Trace distillery is one of the most haunted places in America, Ghost Hunters even did an episode there. The fact that Buffalo Trace gives this specific tour after sundown only adds to the creepiness surrounding this distillery from 1775. Not only did Colonel Blanton himself supposedly died on the property, but so did his two daughters, and all of them have been seen from both Trace employees and visitors alike. While Hubs and I weren’t lucky enough to witness any ghostly apparitions, we did have a good time. And the rickhouse (where the bourbon barrels are stored while the bourbon ages) was definitely among the more creepy.  If you’re concerned that doing the ghost tour means you won’t get a taste of Buffalo Trace, don’t worry. They treat you just as well as all the other distilleries in Kentucky – a taste (or two) comes with every visit.

So, after your horse wins the Derby and you’ve downed a mint julep or two, make sure to taste the bourbon on its own. After all, you haven’t toured Kentucky if you haven’t toured a distillery.

Barware

Posted by Jenn. Comment (0).

labeled bar

Spring is officially here. The sun is shining, the days are longer, there are bright green leaves on the trees and flowers are starting to bloom. It’s the perfect time to pull out those bright Hawaiian shirts, Bermuda shorts, frilly summer dresses and strappy sandals. But all that outdoor wear can’t go to waste. Now that the weather’s warming up, it’s the perfect time for entertaining, and when I say entertaining, I mean entertaining outside.

glasses

Outdoor entertaining all starts this weekend with Passover and Easter. All those kids will be running around lawns hunting for Easter eggs anyway, so why not take the food and drink (especially the drink) outside as well? Now, some people may think that outdoor entertaining means paper plates, paper cups and plasticware, but that’s absolutely not true. Just because you’ve taken the party outside doesn’t mean you can’t take the china and crystal with you. I mean, you’re entertaining! You’ve got a yard full of guests. It’s a party! And there’s absolutely nothing classier than vintage china and glasses, especially when cocktails are involved.

You may have all the right ingredients to make the perfect Aperol Spritz, Mint Julep or Sea Breeze. But it loses something if it’s served up in a cheesy plastic cup. Instead, give your cocktails some panache by shaking them in a beautiful vintage cocktail shaker. Strain them into some stunning Depression Era glasses and then serve them up on a classic silver tray. Not only will you impress your guests, the beautiful barware can stay out long after your soirée has ended.

silver glasses

Something as simple as a pair of vintage ice tongs or a beautiful set of 50’s glasses can add a nice touch to your everyday decor and then be used for your next cocktail party. Hubs and I have a collection of vintage cocktail shakers that we use to break up our book shelves in the office. Then when we have guests (or if it’s just the 2 of us) we’ll grab one to shake up a quick martini or two. It definitely makes a small party or even a quiet night in, just a little more special.

cocktail shaker