Drinks with Many Ladies: Learning about fancy ice cubes and proper daiquiris at Sidebar on Whiskey Row

Blogger’s note: This is a post I wrote for the Drinks with Many Ladies blog. DWML is a meet-up of ladies that includes socializing and learning about adult beverages. I’ve been to several of these meet-ups, and I’ve had a great time meeting other alcohol enthusiasts and plain ol’ nice people. For more information about the group, visit the Drinks with Many Ladies blog or email me.

A bourbon sampling and a little reading at Drinks with Many Ladies.
A bourbon sampling and a little reading at Drinks with Many Ladies.

Drinking is fun. So is learning. Add the two together with a knowledgeable mixologist and a group of rambunctious women and you have the most recent installment of the Drinks with Many Ladies meet-up.

A dozen ladies got together for a basic lesson in cocktails a couple of weeks ago at Sidebar at Whiskey Row, one of the more recent additions to Main Street in downtown Louisville. Sidebar specializes in the basics — burgers and bourbon, a perfect mash-up for Drinks with Many Ladies.

Rich, the managing partner at Sidebar, led us through more than an hour of cocktail basics. We sampled, we smelled, we learned how to properly stir a cocktail (a feat that’s harder than it looks). Here are some lessons from our evening:

  • Not all bourbon is created equal. We started the evening with four bourbon samples — Old Granddad, Col. E.H. Taylor, Old Forester Signature and Four Roses. Each had distinct flavors ranging from fiery (I’m looking at you, Granddad) to smooth.
  • A well-crafted ice cube takes a cocktail from good to great. Sidebar is one of the few places in town with one of these freezers. Ice created in a Kold-Draft machine is more dense than normal ice cubes, so the cubes melt slower and don’t water down your drink as much.
  • The perfect cocktail is 3/4 ounce acid, 3/4 ounce simple sugar and 2 ounces of liquor. I will have this recipe engraved on my headstone.
  • And speaking of proper cocktails, a daiquiri should only have rum, lime juice and simple syrup. Rich made up some daiquiris to give us a taste of the real thing. Such a simple recipe puts those fruity mixes to shame.
Kara, a Drinks with Many Ladies member, makes a cocktail with Rich of Sidebar.
Kara, a Drinks with Many Ladies member, makes a cocktail with Rich of Sidebar.
  • Use lime juice with clear liquors, lemon juice with dark liquors. And use fresh juice when you can.
  • You don’t need many tools to start your own bar at home. Here are the basic tools Rich recommended for a home bar: a Boston shaker, Hawthorne strainer, Julep strainer, muddler, a long spoon and a jigger. Drink with Many Ladies regular Rachel recommended the Dine Company on Preston Highway for buying these supplies at a good price.
  • Recommended reading: “Imbibe!” by David Wondrich. Sidebar even has a copy behind the bar. I love a literate watering hole.
  • There’s nothing wrong with drinking blue alcohol out of a fishbowl. A good lesson for us all.
Look, Ma, I made an Old Fashioned!
Look, Ma, I made an Old Fashioned!

A special thanks to Rich and the folks at Sidebar for hosting Drinks with Many Ladies. 

Local bartenders to offer original cocktails in Four Roses’ Holiday Bourbon Battle

Starting Friday, you can sample some of the best bourbon concoctions that mixologists in the area have to offer.

It’s time for the third annual Holiday Bourbon Bash sponsored by Four Roses. Here’s a blurb:

Each participating restaurant/bar will develop its own signature holiday cocktail to be made available for the public to taste and vote on two weeks before Bardstown Road Aglow – November 23 through December 2.

Restaurant and bar guests can vote by texting the name of the restaurant/bar to “22333,” or by visiting Facebook.com/FourRosesBourbon and clicking “Like” on the picture of their favorite Bourbon Battle cocktail.  The cocktail photos will be available for “Liking” in the Bourbon Battle photo album.

Here are some of the restaurants and bars that have a bartender in the running:

Which location are you rooting for?

Get some local brews, good bourbon and free appetizers at Four Roses Bourbon Loft opening

Got some free time tonight?

The folks of Bluegrass Brewing Company and Four Roses Distillery will celebrate the opening of the Four Roses Bourbon Barrel Loft with a party today from 5:30 to 10 p.m. on the third floor of BBC at 300 W. Main Street across from the Yum! Center.

The 3,000 square-foot loft will be “an upscale, contemporary location for private parties, luncheons, wedding receptions and dinners,” according to the companies. And BBC will also “age some of its specialty beers in barrels that previously aged Four Roses bourbon.” That sounds downright tasty.

And this event sounds like it has a lot going for it, especially if you’re like me and probably can’t afford to rent the space:

  • Free and open to the public
  • Free appetizers
  • A chance to talk to BBC Brewmaster Toby Hunt and Four Roses Master Distiller Jim Rutledge

Don’t be alarmed if your neighborhood Java Brewing Co. has a new name

Five Java Brewing Co. locations have gotten a makeover and a new name.

VINT, a “next-generation café,” is located at the old Java locations on Fourth Street, Main Street, Frankfort Avenue, Brownsboro Road and inside the St. Matthews Jewish Community Center on Dutchmans Lane. The change became effective at the end of June.

Here’s a blurb from the folks at VINT about the changes:

The VINT transformation of the former Java Brewing Co. locations has been all encompassing. The upgraded décor invites guests to have a more comfortable and enjoyable experience. Wi-Fi internet access at all locations encourages guests to stay connected to the greater community. Higher-quality coffee beans and a superior roasting process have come together to create Louisville’s tastiest cup of coffee. The VINT barista training program has created true professionals in the art of coffee education and preparation. A new menu has been designed to feature delicious, fresh local food selections along with premium tea, ale and wine.

I stopped by VINT on Frankfort Avenue for a cup of joe and some free internet the other day. The coffee was tasty and the employees were nice, just as it was when this location was Java Brewing Co. Other than the name and logo, I didn’t notice a lot of changes to the shop. But with my new VINT frequent customer card, I’ll be sure to visit again.

Got bourbon? Get some and support Brightside at Four Roses Flower Hour

I’ve written before that I’m a fan of charity and food. Add bourbon to the mix, and you’ve got yourself an even better time.

Four Roses Bourbon and Nanz & Kraft Florists will sponsor the fourth-annual Four Roses Flower Hour charity event next week that benefits Brightside, an organization that promotes clean, green activities and initiatives in Louisville. 

Flower Hour will take place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 11, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Nanz & Kraft, 141 Breckenridge Lane. With a minimum $5 donation at the door, attendees can shop for gifts, drink a little bourbon and have some snacks with Master Distiller Jim Rutledge. All proceeds go to Brightside, so it sounds like a great deal.

What: Four Roses Flower Hour

When: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Feb. 11

Where: Nanz & Kraft, 141 Breckenridge Lane

Cost: Minimum $5 donation with proceeds going to Brightside