After a few recent excursions to places where bourbon was sort of an afterthought, this past weekend I targeted two destinations where I knew it would be respected. I was not disappointed.
At Against the Grain, the brewery and smokehouse that opened about three months ago in the old Browning’s location at Louisville Slugger Field (401 E. Main St.), I enjoyed the Barrel Smoked Manhattan ($8), pictured above and below. This cocktail features smoked Jefferson’s Reserve 10-Year-Old bourbon, sweet vermouth, Fee Brothers Barrel-Aged Bitters and a vanilla “wash” – vanilla is swirled around the glass and ignited before the other ingredients are added, our knowledgeable server explained. The Manhattan was garnished with two cherries; I was pleasantly surprised when I popped one into my mouth to discover that it, too, had been smoked, giving it a bacon-y flavor. “We smoke everything,” our server said – “cherries, olives, onions…we’re a true smokehouse.” If you go, check out the pulled pork nachos, which feature kettle chips and a sweet/spicy barbecue sauce.
We also bellied up to the bar at The Silver Dollar, a bar and restaurant housed in an old firehouse in the Clifton neighborhood (1761 Frankfort Ave.) whose neon sign advertises “whiskey by the drink.” That’s truth in advertising: The Silver Dollar has a good long list of bourbons. I made mine a shot ($12) of Noah’s Mill, a product of Kentucky Bourbon Distillers in Bardstown that I somehow had missed until now. At 114 proof, it seemed an appropriate bourbon to have in a firehouse. While it’s plenty drinkable, I recommend having it on the rocks or with a little water to tamp down those flames.