This book was put together in 2005 when David Larson was the executive chef at Woodford Reserve. While the book does feature Woodford Reserve Bourbon, the book does not focus just on Chef David Larson. They have recipes from chefs in Louisville, Lexington and in Kentucky communities. I think a more appropriate title might have been “The Kentucky Culinary Cocktail Tour: A Journey with Woodford Reserve”. One of the chefs featured is Ouita Michel, the present executive chef at Woodford Reserve.  There are more than a dozen featured chefs including local legends (the late) Dean Corbett, John Castro, Anthony Lamas, Jim Gerhardt and of course, Ouita Michel.

The Woodford Reserve Culinary Cocktail Tour: A Journey with Bourbon, Peggy Stevens & Ronni Lundy, Brown-Forman Corporation, Louisville, Ky. 2005. Forward, Contents, Index, Illustrated, pp.130.

The book starts after the forward by Peggy Stevens with Chef David Larson discussing the “flavor wheel” for Bourbon and how it can be applied to pairing Bourbon with food. He describes how Stevens and a group of chefs created foods that compliment different parts of the flavor wheel. 

This is a very attractive book with many full color photographs, not only of the food and cocktails, but of the distillery, Kentucky scenery, Bourbon ingredients, and people. In fact, there is a 30 page chapter of nothing but color photographs taken at Woodford Reserve and the surrounding area. This is followed by a chapter featuring the chefs whose recipes are in the book – each chef getting a full page and very nice photographs to accompany their biography. 

Then, the book has a chapter titled “Talented Producers” that feature biographies and photographs of people who produce some of the ingredients used in the food such as Judy Schad, a producer of goat cheese and miller Philip Weisenberger. It is not until page 60 of the book that you start seeing recipes.

The chapters for the recipes are: Woodford Reserve Cocktails, Appetizers, Sides & Soups, Entrees, and Desserts. Each recipe names the person supplying the recipe, the name of the recipe, and a color illustration of the recipe. If you have attended the Woodford Bourbon Academy, then you may recognize some of the recipes from Larson and Michel. They all sound appetizing and I can attest that the ones I have eaten are excellent. The recipes are fully detailed and well written. Even a novice cook will not have trouble following these recipes.

Peggy Noe Stevens was a Master Taster at Brown-Forman before becoming a consultant in all things Bourbon related. She has designed many of the gift shops for new distilleries. She does programs pairing Bourbon with food. And she was the founder of the group Bourbon Women. She pays attention to detail and everything she does is well designed and attractive. This book is no exception. The photographs would make the book one that you would want to have out on the coffee table for guests to look at while waiting on their cocktails at a dinner party. 

I can find no faults in this book other than it left me wanting more. I would have been happy if they had doubled it in size. It is a book that everyone who cooks with Bourbon should have in their library.

Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller