About a year ago, Josh Howes and Tommy Craggs contacted me about a new business venture they were creating. I met with them on my porch, having a few Bourbons and listening to them talk about their desire to create a whiskey bar in Louisville that would rival Jack Rose Dining Saloon in the selection and Delilah’s in Chicago as a place to meet industry members. This is a lofty goal. These two institutions are legends in the whiskey industry. Jack Rose has a whiskey list that includes thousands of whiskeys from around the world. Delilah’s has always been a bar that Master Distillers and brand ambassadors go to when in Chicago. So I listened to what they had to say with some interest.
First of all, it was to be called “Watch Hill Proper” and located in the Norton Commons neighborhood in northeast Louisville. It is to be a membership driven club, but also open to the public. It was to have a huge whiskey list and a fine restaurant. Members could hold events there and enjoy other perks. They wanted me to join as a complimentary “industry member” along with many other people I know from the industry. It sounded good to me. I agreed, we enjoyed a few Bourbons on the porch and I forgot about it for several months.
A year later and Watch Hill Proper is now open. It is located at 11201 River Beauty Loop, Prospect, Ky. 40059. It opened in April of this year.
They have hired a talented team to run the place. They hired Michael Crouch as their chef. I have known Michael for many years. I first met him when he was the chef at Bourbons Bistro and I always liked his food. They hired Forrest Price as their creative director. I have known Forrest for several years and he learned about the whiskey trade at Jack Rose Dining Saloon under the tutorage of Bill Thomas. They have hired Karla Green to be behind the bar and create the cocktail menu. She is a very talented mixologist and worked at the Evan Williams Experience amongst other places here in Louisville. All are talented at their jobs, with experience and professionalism.
One of the goals was to be a place where members can come in for drinks and meet industry people doing the same. My first trip to Watch Hill Proper was by invitation from Jeremy Dever of Kentucky Artisan Distillery. He had invited several people in the industry to join him for drinks and check out the place.
Our party also included Steve Beam, Kyle Henderson, Royce Neeley, and spouses. Steve Fante was doing a Yellowstone tasting for a group that night as well. The place was had a good size crowd, despite the fact that it was the Saturday evening of Thunder Over Louisville. Many people were on the waterfront watching fireworks. I tried a couple of whiskeys that I had not tried before and Rosemary had a couple of cocktails. We ordered a charcuterie board and some lobster hushpuppies to eat. The cocktails were well made and tasty and the food likewise.
We spent a couple of hours there and we enjoyed the ambience and the company immensely. The place is still working out some growing pains. The kitchen is small, but there are plans to expand it. I will assume the menu will expand as well. The atmosphere was friendly. There are tables to sit at but there are also many comfortable couches as well for those who don’t plan on eating but want a comfortable chair to sit and enjoy a drink. Rosemary and I will go back sometime soon. It is a thirty minute drive from downtown Louisville, but it worth the drive if you are visiting on business or doing distillery tours in the area. It may not quite be Jack Rose yet, but they are getting there.
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller