Today’s Reason To Drink

barbellelistI’m reposting my Christmas list column because, well, it’s almost Christmas and I haven’t heard from the big man with a sack. I’ll be traveling to the state that’s round on both ends but “hi” in the middle, so if I don’t run into you at the bars tonight, hope you have a happy holiday!

(Bar Belle from 12/9/16 Insider Louisville)

Dear Santa,

I haven’t been bad, but I also haven’t been entirely good this year — so I’m not sure where I fall on your multitude of lists and spreadsheets. I’m sure I’m on the spectrum. But aren’t we all?

I hold the door open for people and try to say hello to strangers, but I also have a bad case of road rage and honk my horn way too often. I can’t help it I’m the only one in this city who believes in turn signals and following the basic rules of driving, like going the speed limit and not cutting people off.

I also once helped a white-haired old lady reach a can of black beans at Kroger, but then cursed her out in my mind when she whipped out a checkbook at checkout. Who still writes checks anymore, right? I mean, I’ll gladly cash them if my name’s on there, but you know what I’m saying.

Let’s face it, 2016 in general should get a lump of coal. You can’t take Prince and Bowie from us but leave Scott Baio. Perhaps someone else should be in charge up there, and maybe it should be Charles.

But I digress. And here’s the conundrum. I’m both good and bad. So are you going to bring me presents this year?

I’ve decided to go ahead and make a list in case you’re in a forgiving mood these days. I really appreciated the Weller 12 Year you found in Texas last year, and I, of course, would be happy as Pappy if I stumbled upon a bottle under the tree again this year.

And here are some other suggestions on what to get your favorite Bar Belle — and anyone else who enjoys their Christmas spirits — on the big day.

• Tickets to the Bourbon Classic

I really do love the Bourbon Classic, Santa, and next year it’s celebrating its fifth year Feb. 28 to March 4. Tickets are now on sale for the two main events — the Cocktail & Culinary Challenge ($135) on Friday, March 3, and the TASTE Ultimate Bourbon Experience ($155) on Saturday, March 4, at the Kentucky Center.

For those who like food with their bourbon, both of these events give you ample samples and top chef-prepared treats to wash it down with. Most of the big distilleries are present, which makes it fun chasing a Woodford with a Bulleit Barrel Strength.

• Tickets to Tailspin Ale Fest

You know how much I love stumbling around an airplane hangar trying more than 150 beers, don’t you? This annual beer fest is one of the best in town, and it’s always a great time rubbing elbows with fellow Louisville beer lovers. The Tailspin Ale Fest will be held Saturday, Feb. 18, once again at Bowman Field, and tickets are now on sale for both general admission and VIP.

Of course, if I have a pick, I’ll take the VIP ticket ($75), Santa, which gets me in an hour early and other goodies as well. But if you’re scaling back this year, general admission ($45) will be just fine.

Me and Jimmy sitting in a tree ...
Me and Jimmy sittin’ in a tree …

• A date with Jimmy Russell

Yes, I know Wild Turkey master distiller Jimmy Russell is a taken man. But on Thursday, Dec. 29, he’ll be over at Westport Whiskey & Wine to conduct a tasting and sign bottles. And I consider that a date! So here’s a deal. How about I foot the $15 for the tasting, while you drop a bottle of Wild Turkey Master’s Keep down my chimney so I can have him sign it. I’ll go ahead and put a pillow at the bottom and be on the lookout.

The event with Russell runs from 6:30 to 8 p.m., and you can register online.

• Something from DrunkWood

John King is one cool dude, and he makes incredible pieces of art out of used bourbon barrels. His company, DrunkWood LLC, has produced many Kentucky-shaped decorations for area bars and restaurants, like Feast BBQ, and King has been able to turn his hobby into a full-time gig.

I’ll take anything King makes, Santa, so use your judgement when picking from the many options, like the state of Kentucky, a fleur-de-lis or even a Cardinal head. Heck, I even like the chairs and desks he makes.

• A private selection bourbon

If you own a bar, restaurant or liquor store — or just have a thick wallet like you do, Santa — you can buy your own barrel of bourbon from several distilleries around the state. They even let you bring a group of friends and/or co-workers to sample several barrels, some even inside the actual rick houses, and watch as your crew argues over which is the best.

Once the barrel is picked, the distillery will bottle it up and ship it out for you to sell at your bar/restaurant/liquor store, and these are known as private selection bourbons. I recently told you about 21c/Proof on Main’s new barrel-selection program, and they’ve got their bourbons and brandy for sale in the 21c gift shop.

I just reached out to Matthew Landan of Haymarket, and he says they’ve got OKI 10 Year, Knob Creek 9 Year, Wild Turkey 9 Year, Whistle Pig Rye 10 Year and Four Roses 10 Year. Those are all decent options, so pick your favorite, Santa!

• Bourbon

If you can’t get me a special bourbon, then just get me bourbon. I’d be happy as a 2-year-old in the ball pit at Chuck E. Cheese to have any of the following: Old Forester Signature, Four Roses Small Batch, Angle’s Envy, Maker’s Mark Cask Strength, Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel, Woodford Reserve, Weller 12, Michter’s 10 Year Bourbon, Evan Williams Single Barrel, Copper & Kings Brandy, Elijah Craig, 1792 Port Finish, Buffalo Trace, Rabbit Hole Bourbon, Eagle Rare, Blanton’s, Knob Creek, Jim Beam Double Oak, Wild Turkey Master’s Keep, Willett Family Estate Bourbon, Larceny, Bulleit Barrel Strength, and all the others I’m forgetting.

OK, there’s my list, big guy. I think it’s fairly modest if I do say so myself. I’d rather give you too many ideas than too few. Can’t wait to see what’s under my tree in a couple of weeks, and if it’s just a lump of Kentucky coal, well, at least it’s local.

But several other places in town have similar offerings, including Liquor BarnWestport Whiskey & WineProspect Party CenterOld TownParty Mart and other big liquor stores, as well as Haymarket Whiskey Bar and 8Up.

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