Jelly of This KY Vacay?
Since I joined the American workforce, I have worked through Labor Day Weekend. This year, I have a big girl job. That means I get “holidays” and “weekends” and have “money.” I took advantage of my three-days of freedom with a short cruise south to the capital of bourbon whiskey, Louisville, Kentucky. It’s a hipster town replete with thriving niche stores, liberal youths, and gentle southern drawls. For three days, my honey Jacob and I ate and drank our way through this little city, biking the roads and shopping their farmers markets. I’m already planning my trip back.
Vacation helps you appreciate the life you have that isn’t sold away for a paycheck. An extended period away from your daily routines brings with it a new outlook. You’re able to slow down and appreciate your surroundings because they are new. I’ve been trying to meditate more frequently in general, but while on this vacation I realized that meditation is achievable at any time, in any moment. Concentrate fully on every sensation that you’re feeling, and you can calm your mind. I’ll use the ritualistic act of eating cheese as an example: before you gobble that little wedge of cheese, study it for a moment. Inspect its appearance, the texture of the rind. Allow the adjectives float into your mind. Then, concentrate on the smell. Finally, take a small bite and let it melt on your palate it, taking a mental log of every sensation. Apply this approach to other activities, like taking a shower or brushing your cat. When you concentrate on life in the moment, you’ll feel a sense of understanding and appreciation.
The process is easier if your sense are already overwhelmed with the newness of an awesome city. Here are 5 reasons why I have to return to Louisville, KY.
There is an endless supply of great coffee in Louisville. They have award-winning cafés with all the culture and quality of something you’d find in a much larger city. My favorite was Quills Coffee in Highlands, which served incredible espresso and perfect pour overs. I also liked Please and Thank You, a café with artfully prepared bagels, fantastic chocolate chip cookies, and a record store in the back, naturally.
It would take months to try everything that’s worth eating in this town. There are a few upscale restaurants, but most are mid-price gastropubs and bistros. My choice spot is Holy Grale, an old church renovated into a gastropub with an ample, rotating draft and thoughtfully prepared locavore cuisine. They have a pickle plate that changes frequently, but seems to always have these ridiculous sauerkraut pancakes that I can’t stop thinking about. The second time we got this plate (no regrets), it came with a perfectly executed soy egg. They also have a killer burger, the gold standard of any hipster pub/eatery worth their Maldon salt. At night, they offer dogs and brats cooked over what used to be a crematorium. Gralehaus, their daytime café, is directly behind the restaurant. We stopped in for brunch on Sunday for biscuits and duck gravy, a veggie hash, and an awesome iced americano made with jasmine tea in lieu of water. You can stay entirely within this property for three straight days and have an awesome vacation, but luckily we did venture outside occasionally. Out of our entire trip, my very favorite dish we ate was the milk-braised corn with shrimp scampi from Eiderdown, a seasonally-focused restaurant in Germantown.
Whiskey bars, beer bars, Irish pubs, unassuming dives, The Ville is overpopulated with bars mostly in the Highlands and East Market neighborhoods.The best bourbon lists I encountered are at Haymarket near downtown and Seidenfend, which was down the road from our Airbnb. I didn’t have to navigate the overwhelming menus alone either; the bartenders are all bourbon nerds, happy to share their knowledge and recommendations.
Within the bounds of Cave Hill Cemetery, there are 22 miles of looping roads on a vast 297-acre stretch of historic tombs and more modern monuments. It’s one of the most beautiful cemeteries I’ve ever been too. Colonel Sanders is buried here, and you can find old civil war era graves if you search for them. I barely scratched the surface of this place, but still encountered so much beauty.
The main reason why I have to return is because I only went on one distillery tour. I tried to ask the bartender at Haymarket to recommend a tour, but he attested to the quality and unique experience of each and every distillery. We chose Buffalo Trace for our first visit, and I found out they have a Ghost Tour on Saturdays so clearly I have to go back there too.Their more basic tour is exceptional. The guide was loud and humorous but not, ahem, cheesy, and he ends the tour with samples of vodka, classic Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare, bourbon cream and bourbon balls. It’s not enough to get you drunk, but it’s a generous perk for a free tour. It also led to the purchase pictured above, later in the day at a Liquor Barn. ‘Cause we’re classy.
Also, our Airbnb host made jewelry out of dead things and had a one-eyed cat. That was pretty cool.