Sure, you’ll be swirling and sniffing some of America’s finest whiskey at the seven distilleries on the Holy Grail for Bourbon lovers—The Kentucky Bourbon Trail—but a journey of a thousand sips requires serious sustenance, too. Here’s where you can score edgy eats and must-try drinks along the way.
After tasting at the historic Woodford Reserve in Versailles, pull up a rocking chair on the scenic porch and dig in to Bourbon-focused bites like Bourbon chili with grass-fed beef or a Bourbon-infused roast pork loin sandwich. At Jim Beam, be sure to clock time at Fred’s Smokehouse—named after seventh-generation master distiller (and great-grandson of Jim Beam), Fred Noe. The order: Devil’s Cut pulled pork barbecue sandwiches and baked beans. Looking for a trendier table? After a day of tasting, head to Proof on Main in downtown Louisville—one of Wine Enthusiast’s 100 Best Wine Restaurants for 2013—which boasts an eclectic wine list in an art-filled space along with juicy burgers and seriously addictive truffle fries. Or opt for fresh-ingredient-packed food at Rye, like tempura-fried avocado with pickled carrots and a refreshing tomato salad.
Beyond the Bourbon, be sure to head to beer mecca The Silver Dollar and select suds off of an extensive list that boasts large format brews (yes, it’s O.K. to crave beer in Bourbon country). Wine lovers should head to La Coop Bistro à Vins for a 100-bottle, French-leaning selection—20 by the glass—curated by Master Sommelier and owner Brett Davis. There are vins maison (wines fortified with brandy and infused with seasonal fruits and botanicals), too, along with French bistro classics like coq au vin and steak frites. The swanky St. Charles Exchange bar focuses on artfully prepared classic Bourbon Trail-based cocktails and insanely good comfort food fare, like the Elvis on Horseback, bacon-wrapped, peanut-butter-stuffed dates. It’ll love you tender.