Stressed? Need a break? There ain’t nothing a little Southern hospitality can’t fix. Between the people, the food and, of course, the bourbon, 48 hours in Louisville is just enough time to sit back, relax and recharge with some of the best food and booze our nation has to offer. So pack your overnight bag, cowboy boots included; we’re headed to Louisville, Kentucky.
Recharge at Sunergos Coffee
Catch an early-morning flight out of your hometown to arrive in Louisville by late morning. After checking into your hotel, recharge with a hot cup of coffee at Sunergos Coffee, champions of America’s Best Espresso. Their roasting philosophy is based on emphasizing the origin from which the beans come, much like terroir appreciation in the wine world. Their Mayan Mocha is delectably spicy, the honey latte is sweet and smooth and a simple cup of coffee is brewed to perfection. A perfect place to unwind after a morning’s travel.
Lunch at Doc Crow’s
Yearning for authentic Southern BBQ? Look no further than Doc Crow’s Southern Smokehouse and Raw Bar. The massive bar offers plenty of barstool seating, with an extensive cocktail and beer offering. Brisket, ribs and pulled pork slathered in homemade sauce are just the beginning of the tasty offerings. The staff is extremely knowledgable, ready to answer any boozy, barbecue-drenched questions you may have. The homemade tomato vinaigrette on the salads is one of the best we’ve ever tasted, though our personal favorite section on the menu is the sides; creamy macaroni and cheese, fried okra and cornbread are just a few of our favorites. At just $5 a pop, it’s tempting not to try them all.
Post food coma, stroll down South 4th Street for some souvenir shopping. Little boutiques dot the street, offering handmade crafts and homemade sweets. We love Art Eatables, the best place in town for bourbon chocolates. Just opening the door and getting a whiff of the place will make your post-barbecue stomach want more. Be sure not to miss CRAFT(s) Gallery, a hybrid craft shop and art gallery. Handmade dish towels, jewelry and baskets are all available for purchase, while the next room over displays frequently changing art exhibits. The gift shop at The Brown Hotel is also a must for all of your fleur-de-lis and Louisville decor needs.
Dinner at Bourbons Bistro
Grab a cocktail at your hotel bar (we’ve been hooked on classic Old-Fashioneds) and head to dinner at Bourbons Bistro. Southern-inspired dishes and over 130 bourbons make this place a must-visit before leaving Louisville. Grab a Sazerac and cheese plate to start, washed down with a bone-in pork chop. Do not miss the side of parmesan & truffle oil grits — they’re to die for. Oh, and what meal would be complete without a dessert of bourbon balls?
Brunch at Hillbilly Tea
Head down to W. Main Street for a caffeine-filled breakfast at Hillbilly Tea. This open air space, with plentiful outdoor seating clad in twinkle lights, is a relaxing oasis right in the middle of downtown Louisville. Grab an organic tea and vegan pastry for breakfast, though consider returning later in the day — the traditional Southern fare and tea-based cocktails are one of a kind.
Afternoon on the Bourbon Trail
No trip to Louisville is complete without an afternoon spent on the Bourbon Trail. Head out after breakfast to make the most of your whiskey-filled day. The beautiful estate of Four Roses Distillery is a must-see. Built in 1910, this Spanish Mission-style property is as inviting as it is historic. Tours and tastings are held daily — be sure to ask your guide the history behind the Four Roses name. Start your tasting with their basic Yellow Label, moving on to the more complex Small Batch and Single Barrel expressions. If you’re lucky, you might just get your hands on a sample of Brent Elliott’s namesake Elliott Select Barrel Strength label. Be sure to stop in the gift shop on your way out, where select bottles, glassware and keepsakes are available.
Another must-see distillery just outside town is Stitzel-Weller, known as the cathedral of bourbon and the birthplace of Pappy Van Winkle. A visit to this place is a step back in time and well worth the stop. While Pappy isn’t made there any more — it’s now made at Buffalo Trace, another fantastic distillery well worth your visit, though a bit farther away — Stitzel-Weller is now home to Bulleit Bourbon and its founder Tom Bulleit. If he happens to be there when you visit, pop into his office and say hello. Before you leave make sure you also try Blade and Bow, another bourbon made on the property that’s rumored to have some Pappy in it.
If time allows, Woodford Reserve and Maker’s Mark distilleries are also worth a visit.
Dinner at Bistro 1860
Soak up all that bourbon with dinner at Bistro 1860, a delectable French-American fusion restaurant with stunning cocktails, relaxing fireplaces and an out-of-this-world bar. The restaurant itself is a turn-of-the-century farmhouse, complete with an outdoor patio and lounge. The service is impeccable, with world class bartenders and servers ready to tailor suggestions to your preferences. The dry-aged ribeye is not to be missed, as well as the 72-hour sous vide short rib. Pair with a side of corn chevre pudding and lobster hush puppies. Finish it off with a serving of cherry-soaked flourless chocolate cake and, if you have room, a selection of homemade ice creams.
Where to Stay
Check out The Holiday Inn, Louisville SW for affordable accommodations, or, as always, scope out an Airbnb for a more local feel. For luxury accommodations, there’s no better place than the classic, historic Brown Hotel.