Rosemary has decided that with new members on the Urban Bourbon Trail and several members leaving the trail, she needed to do the trail again. Not all in one month this time and not having a Manhattan at every stop either. This time she wants to do Louisville’s official cocktail: The Old Fashioned Cocktail. She has started a new passport and we have had excellent Old Fashioned Cocktails at Volare and Charr’d since she started a couple of weeks ago. Last night we decided to go out to dinner and it turned into a Bourbon Date Night.

We started by having dinner at Dish on Market. I love their fried chicken and Rosemary loves their fish and chips. I decided to take my book along because we thought we might try one of the new stops on the Urban Bourbon Trail after dinner. When we arrived at Dish we were greeted by a couple of young ladies who work there, Jolie Campbell and Amanda Brooke and know us well. When we told them what we were doing they were visibly pleased. Amanda takes great pride in her skill at making cocktails and we knew she made a great Manhattan but did not know that her real pride and joy is her Old Fashioned Cocktail.

After being seated in a booth by the bar, I ordered the Old Fashioned and Rosemary had a Bloody Truman. I know, Rosemary was the one who said she was going to have an Old Fashioned at every stop, but she absolutely loves the Bloody Truman – a Bloody Mary made with Old Grand Dad Bonded instead of Vodka. She decided that if I got the Old Fashioned and she tasted it, then it satisfy her requirements. I agreed to her stipulation but I suspected that this meant that I might be stuck with a few bad Old Fashioned Cocktails when she switches drinks with me when she gets a bad one. In this case I was a winner as Amanda made a first class Old Fashioned Cocktail – one of the best I have ever had. I was surprised to find out she used Maker’s 46 in the drink. I normally don’t care for Maker’s 46 but I also usually drink Bourbon neat and not in a cocktail. Amanda’s cocktail had plenty of Bourbon flavor that was enhanced and not covered up by the other components. It also had a nice spiciness that I soon discovered was from the cherries. Amanda makes her own cocktail cherries and there is definitely a little cinnamon in her recipe.

I also tried a dram of the new Basil Hayden Dark Rye and found it very interesting. It was a little sweet with brown sugar sweetness and fruit but still very rye forward. As a mixture with Canadian rye whisky as well as American straight rye and port, I suspect the sweetness is actual brown sugar. Canadian Whisky can add that since it is a blended whisky.

After dinner the couple in the booth behind us asked about our Bourbon conversation they had overheard. I talked a few minutes then went outside while Rosemary continued the conversation. By the time I had returned Rosemary had them getting UBT passports and they were promising to get my books from Amazon. A quick photo with the couple and off we were to our next stop – Brendon’s Catch 23.

Brendon’s Catch 23 is a new stop on the UBT. It was within walking distance from Dish on Market, around the corner and up a few blocks. We walked there on a brisk autumn evening and I enjoyed a pipe on the way. We walked in and the bartender greeted us by name as we walked in. One of the hazards of being a Bourbon Historian is you meet a lot of bartenders and servers in the area. It took me a minute to recognize him from his former job at 8Up and I admit I was happy to have him tell me his name, Will Jones, as I am horrible at remembering names.

We sat down at the bar and Rosemary told him what we were doing. She ordered the Old Fashioned and I let Will convince me to try the Brooklyn instead of the official cocktail. I am glad I did as it was excellent. Will is a very talented mixologist. Rosemary loved her Old Fashioned. Will had toasted the orange peel before releasing some of the oils on the rim of the glass and this gave the drink a nice smoky flavor. Rosemary really liked this old Fashioned and it is a tough call as to whether it was better than Amanda’s or not. It may call for a head to head tasting in the future but for now I am giving Amanda a slight lead but I am not sure if Rosemary shares that opinion.

The next stop was at the Seelbach Hotel bar across the street from Catch 23. The bar was fairly busy. We sat at the bar and Rosemary ordered the Old Fashioned and I saw the Michter’s Barrel Strength Bourbon and said I would have that. The bartender then showed me the special menu with prices for certain whiskeys and the Michter’s was $60.00 a pour. I decided against that and had a Sazerac Rye. Rosemary was surprised at the look of the Old Fashioned. So far we had not had the cocktail made with the Pendennis recipe that calls for muddled fruit. This drink looked like orange juice with a little whiskey in it as the orange and cherry were completely pulverized. It was also too fruit juice forward and you could hardly taste the whiskey. How do I know? Because as I feared earlier, I had to finish this cocktail while Rosemary drank my rye.

We considered making a fourth stop by going to either Bourbon Raw or Sway but Rosemary then realized that she forgot to get her passport stamped at Dish. We ended the night by going back to Dish and then heading home. It was a fun evening and I don’t think we will ever get tired of Bourbon Date nights on the Urban Bourbon trail.

Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller