The car ride to Louisville consisted of a lot of napping (a common theme). It didn’t take long for hunger to set in and we stopped for lunch in Danville, IL (very different than Danville, CA), two hours outside Peoria. Yelp led us to Gross’ Burger, which received Frugal Will’s stamp of approval. The walls there were adorned with tributes to the United States Marine Corp, which, coupled with cheap prices and delicious burgers, emanated freedom. We left feeling patriotic and full.
Since we decided to visit Louisville the day before, we did not have a place to stay. But after our experience with Pat in Peoria, we decided to wing it in Louisville. Confident in our abilities to befriend strangers, we arrived around 6:00 p.m. and hit the town.
Our first destination was 4th Street Live!, a very touristy and overpriced area. We grabbed a single beer at a dueling piano’s bar called Howl at the Moon (per our Peorian server’s recommendation). The only saving grace of the $10 beer there was the bartender, Alison, who was able to give us the scoop on Louisville. After chatting extensively, we walked back to our car and stopped in at a very hip place that has a giant golden statue of David out front called Proof on Main. It’s a cocktail bar lounge and restaurant that also has a multi-floor art gallery. After grabbing some bourbon we wandered the gallery, continuing another theme of the trip: cultural enrichment.
Next stop was the Magnolia Bar, or “Mag Bar,” and Dosini’s Pizza, which are adjacent to each other. We stopped in and ordered the special pizza (per Alison), which was later delivered to us in the Mag Bar. While waiting, we settled in to a game of pool (we have a running competition: Phil + Malc vs. Will + Matt). There was a guy and a girl playing at the table next to us, who did not get along. After an extended game, we moved into the main bar area where trivia night was happening. The next game was starting shortly, so we decided to make a team: The Turtle Senators (a la Mitch McConnell the Senior Senator from KY).
As Phil was ordering the next round, he invited the girl who had been playing pool to join our team. Her name was Cory, and she happily agreed. As her rude companion returned, we halfheartedly invited him to join us. We played for a couple of hours and thought that Cory would be the perfect person to try and stay with for the night. But before we had a chance to ask Cory, her tactless suitor swooped her away and they were gone. It was now 1:30 a.m. and we had no place to stay.
Alas, our trusted steed Homer would be our nocturnal refuge once again, but the humidity in Louisville was unforgiving. The next several hours were restless, uncomfortable, and something we hope not to repeat. We arose early and peeled our sweaty backs from the leather upholstery; tired, hungry, and cranky, we began the drive to Bourbon County to make the first tour of the day at Woodford Reserve Distillery.
The tour of the distillery was fascinating. They took us through every step of the process, and the different ways the flavor of bourbon is altered. Woodford Reserve Bourbon is distilled three times through giant copper pots (stills), and it is the only bourbon to do so in the country. After the whiskey is distilled, it’s placed in barrels that are charred on the inside. It is at this moment (once the whiskey enters the barrel) that it can now be called bourbon. There are also a host of other requirements from the government for Bourbon to achieve its legal definition.
Woodford Reserve has only been around since 1997 and is actually owned by Jack Daniels. The distillery they operate, however, has existed for over two centuries. Distilling on the site began in 1780 and the distillery building itself was erected in 1838, making it the oldest of the nine bourbon distilleries in current operation in Kentucky — although the site has not been continuously operational as a distillery during that history (the prohibition and all). In 1995 the distillery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and in 2000 it was designated a National Historic Landmark. Part of what makes the site unique is the water. It’s pumped from a well on site, contains no Iron, and is naturally enriched with Calcium from the area’s large limestone deposits.
The tour ended with a tasting of their two bourbons — Distiller’s Select and Double Oaked — and a bourbon ball. The Double Oaked was more of a dessert bourbon, while the Distiller’s Select was more a traditional bourbon. After the revitalizing injection of bourbon into our bloodstreams, we booked it for a Marriott. Long, comfortable showers followed. Once everyone had bathed, we got tacos from another Frugal Will approved eating location: El Taco Luchador. Next stop was the Louisville Slugger Museum.
The tour was pretty good, though our guide was not particularly enthusiastic. We saw how they can crank out a bat in 15 seconds, or have one created mostly by hand in about 30 minutes. The funny part of the tour was at the end, when Phil, Matt, and I all had the humbling experience of using the batting cages. After only fouling off a few of the pitches we left, convinced the machine was set to pitch for small children (the pitches were at our knees!).
Finally, it was time to get some interviews. Though exhausted at this point, we trudged around their waterfront park and the surrounding area. After a couple hours, and only a couple of interviews, it was time to return to the Marriott. We picked up some meat, cooked our patented Millennial Gruel (Quinoa, corn, beans, meat), booked our stay in Detroit through Airbnb, and passed out. Though we planned to explore one last neighborhood that was recommended to us, it didn’t happen. Instead, we caught up on some much needed sleep.
The next morning we demolished the continental breakfast and headed to Motor City.