Louisville, Kentucky’s rich culture extends to the acclaimed culinary scene, highlighting bourbon heritage and classic dishes.
The biggest city in Kentucky, Louisville features a wide array of museums and attractions, plus urban outdoor experiences and vibrant neighborhoods waiting to be explored. In addition to bluegrass music and being home to the Kentucky Derby, it’s also well-known for bourbon and plenty of one-of-a-kind eats to try. Work up an appetite and be ready to sip and taste the best of what Louisville has to offer.
Urban Bourbon Trail
Kentucky is practically synonymous with bourbon, and you’ll discover plenty of ways to sample the state’s original spirit right in the middle of the city. Bourbon enthusiasts can hit the Urban Bourbon Trail™, a curated collection of local bars and restaurants with unique bourbon experiences, from cocktails to cuisine. Each has at least 60 different bourbons on the menu for you to choose from. Build your own itinerary out of the dozens of stops, including Charr’d Bourbon Kitchen & Lounge, Porch Kitchen & Bar, Neat Bourbon Bar & Bottle Shop and the Old Seelbach Bar. No matter where you go, be sure to try an Old Fashioned, Louisville’s official cocktail. Plus, if you check in at six participating establishments you can claim an official Urban Bourbon Trailblazer T-shirt at the Louisville Visitor Center.
Enjoying bourbon cocktails and a Hot Brown at Porch Kitchen & Bar
Distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail
You can’t have amazing bourbon without skilled distillers, and there’s no shortage of them in Louisville. The starting point of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail®, the Frazier History Museum serves as a welcome center and offers concierge services to help you map out a trip to get the most from your experience. As you visit the various distilleries, you’ll learn about bourbon making and taste some of the best Kentucky bourbon straight from the source. Find several in Downtown Louisville’s Bourbon District, including the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience at Kentucky’s first commercial distiller. It offers a few different tour and tasting options to choose from, as does Angel’s Envy, known for its range of secondary barrel finishes. To watch the distilling process unfold, check out Old Forester Distilling Co. or head outside of downtown to Stitzel-Weller Distillery.
Bourbon tasting at the Stitzel-Weller Distillery
Must-Try Louisville Dishes
The region’s outstanding culinary prowess has a storied history. In fact, legend has it the birthplace of the cheeseburger was at a Louisville restaurant now known as 80/20 @ Kaelin’s. There are also can’t-miss classic dishes that provide an authentic taste of Louisville. One of the most famous is the Hot Brown, a decadent, open-faced turkey sandwich topped with bacon and creamy Mornay sauce. It dates back to the 1920s when a chef at the historic Brown Hotel created it as a late-night snack for revelers. You’ll find it on menus around the city, such as the Derby Café & Bourbon Bar and Bluegrass Brewing Co. Not to be confused with the cocktail, Benedictine is a savory spread made with cream cheese, cucumber juice, onion juice, salt, cayenne pepper and green food coloring. It’s a staple of Kentucky Derby parties, but spots like The Café, The Irish Rover, Kayrouz Cafe and Shady Lane Cafe have put their spin on it.
To satisfy a sweet tooth, there are delicious Kentucky treats to try. Sample the original Modjeska recipe, a caramel-dipped marshmallow, at Muth’s Candies—the city’s oldest candy shop. Bourbon balls are another irresistible confection, available at candy stores and distillery gift shops. The chocolate shell filled with a soft bourbon cream and chopped pecans melts in your mouth and can be found with added flavors like peach or mint. A final Louisville tradition is Derby-Pie®, a chocolate and walnut pie handcrafted by local bakery Kern’s Kitchen. Savor a slice at the Kentucky Derby Museum or a number of restaurants.
The Hot Brown: A must-try Louisville specialty
Fly into Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport (SDF) and rent a car to explore the city at your own pace.
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