Thursday April 26th Bourbons Bistro will celebrate its 13th birthday!

I first met Jason Brauner and his business partner John Morrison at a class I was teaching as part of an adult education program at Bellarmine University in 2004. They were both interested in Bourbon and its heritage and were working on opening a Bourbon themed restaurant. In 2005 they opened Bourbons Bistro. It was the first Bourbon themed, white table cloth restaurant to open in Louisville and has been the inspiration for many of the Bourbon themed restaurants that have opened since in Louisville.  Bourbon was just beginning to gain momentum in the market and I do believe that Bourbons Bistro helped to build that momentum with their Bourbon themed dinners featuring Master Distillers and Bourbon and food pairings.

Jason is a big reason for this success at Bourbons Bistro. He admits he did not have a huge knowledge of the history and heritage of Bourbon when he took my class, but he has since taken every opportunity to learn more. He has a great palate and loves his Bourbon almost as much as he loves sharing his knowledge. He has been hired as a consultant for several other restaurants that opened with a Bourbon inspiration, some in Louisville but many more outside of the city and even the State of Kentucky. He has been hired to do many Bourbon tastings for private parties and even does a Bourbon and food themed whitewater rafting trip every year.

When Bourbons Bistro first opened people would bring old bottles of Bourbon and rye to him and many were given as gifts. Jason has the same philosophy as I do that bourbon is meant to be drunk so he would open these bottles and share with friends that would come into Bourbons. Early on it was nothing unusual for me to walk into Bourbons and to be offered a taste of their latest acquisition. In January Kentucky law was changed so that now they can actually sell drinks from these bottles and Jason usually has one or two open for customers to purchase. You can be assured that it will be a good one because Jason will have opened it and tried it before he offers it to the public.

Jason has been promoting the Kentucky Distilling industry for over a decade now. Thousands of people come into the restaurant from all over the world. Jason is always willing to come out to the tables and talk Bourbon with patrons and will go out of his way to make them feel welcome. One of my favorite memories is when I met I.W. Bernheim’s great grandson, Tom Block at Bourbons and Jason brought out a 1976 Barrel decanter of I.W. Harper and opened it so Tom could drink some of the whiskey created by Bernheim.

Jason is a great ambassador for Kentucky Bourbon and does not get enough credit for his efforts. I want to encourage people that come to Louisville for the Kentucky Bourbon trail to take time and visit Bourbons Bistro and ask for Jason. They will not regret it. A nicer guy is not to be found and he is very generous with his time and knowledge. A true Unsung Hero of the Bourbon Industry.

Photos Courtesy of Maggie Kimberl and Rosemary Miller