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?