Having undergone an extreme makeover in
the last few years, bourbon can be found in a lot more places
than the bottom of a tumbler of Coke. Where to look? Head to
the Bluegrass State.
Pop quiz: What's the national drink of the United States? If
you're like most folks, you either think it's Budweiser - which it
most certainly is not - or a baffled look sweeps across your face
and you come up with something along the lines of "Beats the heck
out of me." The answer, passed by way of an act of Congress in
1964, is bourbon, the Kentucky version of whiskey (as opposed to
Scottish, Irish, Canadian, Tennessean, or whoever else might make
Now, at this point in the story, you might start hearing a banjo
spitting out that familiar tune - you know, the one from
Deliverance - as you envision a gaggle of country boys sipping
liquid lightning fresh from an improvised still in the backwoods of
someplace you don't want to get lost. Bourbon, however, has
undergone an extreme makeover during the last few years, emerging
from Kentucky Bluegrass Country as the belle of the ball.
Like tequila's long-fought battle against the margarita, bourbon
has fought a similar foe in Coca-Cola. "Beam and Coke" has
previously been as ubiquitous in bars south of the Mason-Dixon line
as "Can I buy you a drink?" These days, however, bourbon is popping
up in a lot more places.
Across the country, a bottle of single-barrel bourbon like
Blanton's or Booker's has become not only an apt housewarming gift,
but a sign of a guest who knows a thing or two about drinking well.
At upscale seafooder GW Fins in New Orleans - a town famous for far
less sophisticated uses of the spirit - you'll find decadent mashed
sweet potatoes laced with bourbon. But nowhere is bourbon's stylish
rise more evident than at the newly opened Maker's Mark Bourbon
House & Lounge in downtown Louisville.