Stubbees Bourbon Honey

This honey will have you buzzing

For my birthday last year, my friends Kat and Heather hooked me up with some bourbon-infused honey they had stumbled across while on vacation in Florida. I smiled and said thank you, and then put it in a cupboard and had long forgotten about it until … QUARANTINE!

Since I now have to put more effort into my breakfast — instead of just unwrapping a Luna bar at work — I decided to reacquaint myself with granola, yogurt and fruit, all drizzled in honey, of course. And when I opened my cupboard to find if I had any honey — BAM! — there was this Stubbees Bourbon Infused Honey, much to my delight.

Stubbees Honey

Oh, honey.

I’ve enjoyed the honey so much, it actually disappeared last week. (I also snuck it into a few cocktails here and there, including a Mint Julep during what was supposed to be Derby.)

So I had to order more, and when I went to the website, I found the Florida-based company also makes a Blackberry Bourbon Infused Honey! Well, I nearly fell off my rocker when I saw this, so I ordered one of each — regular and blackberry.

The flat shipping rate of $8 was not too shabby either.

The honey just arrived this morning, and I am relieved to have it back in my household. I can’t wait to try the blackberry and am trying to think of a cocktail to make it with. Suggestions are welcome, but I’m not feeling a Hot Toddy at the moment.

Honey: If Mariah and ABBA sing about it, it’s gotta be good! And for reading this post to the end, I give you the wonderful present of watching this ABBA gem below. Enjoy.


Weller Single Barrel

Summer lovin’: New Weller Single Barrel coming in June, folks!

Along with creeping out to see what all this “new normal” is about, we have something else to look forward to this summer: Weller Single Barrel. The wheated deliciousness will be bottled at 97 proof and dressed with a burnt orange label.

This makes me very happy, but also nervous, as I know it won’t be an easy bottle to find — like all Wellers.

“Many of our Weller fans have been asking for a single barrel bourbon for quite a while, and we’ve planned for this addition for a number of years, so we’re excited to be able to make this happen, said Joshua Steely, marketing manager of Buffalo Trace Distillery, in a news release. “Our rye bourbon mash bill has a variety of options, like Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare, Stagg Jr. George T. Stagg and E.H. Taylor, Jr. bourbons, so it’s nice to be able to offer some variety in our wheated bourbon mash bill as well.”

Weller Single Barrel bottle


The Single Barrel is the newest member of the Weller family, which also includes Special Reserve (green label), Antique (red), 12 (black), C.Y.P.B. (white) and Full Proof (blue). This orange label will definitely look sharp in family portraits.

Suggested retail is $49.99, but good luck even finding it on a shelf. The release says it’ll be out in June and will be released only once a year.

Let the bourbon hunting begin! I can’t wait to try this.

Hunter S. Thompson

Alcohol Professor: Pairing Classic Books With Cocktails

Without some freelancing work, I think I would have done gone crazy by now. I thank the stars that the esteemed website Alcohol Professor continues to take my submissions, because these stories have been fun to write.

This one is all about books and booze — or more specifically, what cocktails to drink while reading some classics. I turned to my Facebook family for some of these suggestions, and relied on my literature background for the others.

And I also talked with the cool ladies at Bourbon Women for their ideas as well. According to Bourbon Women President Kerri Richardson, now is as good of time as ever to revisit the classics — with a cocktail in hand.

“It’s natural during times of uncertainty, crisis or danger to seek guidance or solace from writers who have documented similar conditions, whether in novels or history books,” she told me, mentioning she was thinking about finally tackling “The Grapes of Wrath.”


On The Rocks Old Fashioned

Holy Toledo!: You gotta try this ready-to-drink Old Fashioned

How am I holding up, you ask? For a socially-bent barfly, not very well. It’s lonely at my basement bar, it’s not fun drinking by myself, and the music sucks! Plus, the bartender doesn’t have any of the necessary ingredients needed for the most basic of cocktails — like the Old Fashioned.

She did have some fancy Woodford Reserve cherries in the fridge, but they expired years ago. Blasphemy!

As you know, the Old Fashioned is the signature cocktail of Louisville, Ky., as proclaimed by Mayor Greg Fischer a six-pack or so years back. I scoured the city for its best Old Fashioneds a few times in the past while I wrote for the now-defunct Insider Louisville.

If you want to step back in time with me and peruse those lists, here they are. (Unfortunately, the new owners of Insider Louisville repurposed the website and discarded of most of the photos, so it’s just the text. Dumb.)

Yes, I now realize the list needs updating, and I will focus on that once things open back up, of course. That’ll be what I tackle after making sure I have a job and all.

Anyway, the reason I’m writing today is because I unearthed a shiny Old Fashioned gem while grabbing takeout last week at Merle’s Whiskey Kitchen. I won’t lie to you and say I wasn’t there for the incredible bourbon sale they were (and still are) having, but I also enjoyed a filling lunch of hot chicken tenders and a side of ridiculously creamy mac-n-cheese.

While I was there spending way too much money for someone who is unemployed, Merle’s manager extraordinaire Wayne Sweeney talked me into trying a new, pre-made, ready-to-drink Old Fashioned called On The Rocks that was made with Knob Creek. At first I scoffed (secretly), because most pre-made concoctions I’ve tried just aren’t strong enough and have way too much sugar.

On The Rocks Old Fashioned

Mini but mighty.

But then he mentioned in passing that it was 70 proof.

Wait … what?? Now you have my attention.

You basically just open the little bottle and pour it over ice. You can add your own cherries if you’d like (as long as they’re not expired by more than two years), but the one thing you won’t have to worry about adding is bourbon. The first time I sipped it I was mesmerized. It actually stung my taste buds — in a good way!

The flavoring is spot-on, and it’s a prime example of a great Old Fashioned because it lets the bourbon nab the spotlight, while the simple syrup and bitters take supporting roles. And at 70 proof, this thing will sneak up on you!

My girlfriend, who prefers cider, took a tiny sip and winced like she had just downed a bottle of Tabasco. In my book, that is a successful drink!

Merle’s has them for sale for $12 a pop, or there’s a larger sized bottle that’ll pour four drinks for $40. (I also checked out the website, and it says they’re available at some Kroger liquor stores as well.)

Merle’s Whiskey Kitchen is located downtown at 122 W. Main St. They’re doing carryout, cocktail and bourbon sales Tuesday-Friday from 11 a.m.-9 p.m., and on Saturday from 5-9 p.m.

Please, please try the mac-n-cheese! You won’t regret it!

Who wants a bourbon mask?

Bar Belle with mask

Win a mask!

My niece is home from college — Roll tide! — and it turns out she knows her way around a sewing machine. (She did not get this from me, because at her age, I knew my way around a keg, and that’s about it.)

Anyway, she found some bourbon-themed fabric and made me a couple of masks! So I thought I’d give them away to my readers — all seven of you! Only kidding … I think.

These masks obviously are not professional-grade, or else I’d make Andy proud and donate them to healthcare workers. They’re more for everyday folks who need to make a run to Kroger or the liquor store.

I will give away two masks in a random drawing live on Facebook on Friday, April 24, at 4 p.m. All you have to do is follow these steps:

  1. Follow me on social media:
    Twitter: @TheBarBelle
    Instagram: barbelle_lou
  2. Comment on the Facebook post about this drawing by saying “Grease 2 is better.”

That’s it! Two simple steps! I will then load all the names into an online randomizer, and the first two names at the top of the fifth “spin” will win a mask.

Chef John Castro

Alcohol Professor: Baking with Bourbon

Here’s another recent piece I wrote for Alcohol Professor about bringing bourbon into the kitchen and doing more than just sipping on it. Its rich flavors make the ideal vanilla substitute in most baked goods recipes — like cookies, brownies and cakes.

Thanks to Whisky Chicks founder and author Linda Ruffenach, Chef Bobby Benjamin of Butchertown Grocery, and Chef John Castro, formerly of Bardstown Bourbon Co., for the wise words about all things baking and bourbon! They shared the important dos and don’ts when it comes to baking with the brown spirit.

According to Chef Castro, the secret to cooking with bourbon is “a playful spirit and an ego that that will allow you to know when it’s better just to drink it.”

I love that. And Linda also concurs. She says, “You do not want the bourbon to overpower the dessert, plus the alcohol in bourbon can compromise the science in baking where the end result is not what you want.”

Also in the article is Linda’s recipe for Flourless Chocolate Brownies. Yum!


As forced hibernation continues throughout the world because of COVID-19 lockdown measures, many people have found themselves returning to a favorite pastime that had been shelved due to, well, the simple lack of time. The art of baking is gaining momentum as the quarantine continues, offering both a goal-driven activity and a way to make more food without going to the store (and here’s what to do if you can’t find yeast, by the way). Let’s face it, there is only so much Netflix one can watch.

While following a recipe to a T is paramount to how the creation turns out, there are ways to add unique flavors and add twists to classic baked goods. We’re talking about bourbon here, folks, and if you have some on hand as a basic quarantine staple like most of us do, then don’t be afraid to bring it into the kitchen!


Quaffing in Quarantine: Drinks well with others

If there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout these quarantined times, it’s that I’m a social drinker. I enjoy imbibing with buddies — buddies who I can sit right next to or across from and rant about the week’s stressors. I love the atmosphere of a corner pub, which offers private nooks for one-on-one conversations or stools pulled up to the bar for banter with strangers.

What I do not like is drinking alone. Even with these Zoom digital happy hours, it’s just not the same. You can’t clink glasses, buy rounds or have side chats with anyone. Random friends don’t show up uninvited, you can only drink what you have stockpiled, and there is no Rusty peddling beef jerky! I miss Rusty. And his beef.

No, we are forced to stay inside, glued to our computer screens, hoping for authentic social interaction through a two-dimensional device.

When will this end? What will the new normal be like? How long is too long to hug friends for the first time in months?

When this is all over, here’s how my ideal first night will go. I will get to The Back Door by 4:30 p.m. to catch up with John, Gayle and Steve — and, of course, all my favorite bartenders. I will order a gin and tonic — or maybe the renowned Pirate Slap — because I’m tired (momentarily) of bourbon and beer.

I will then head over to Dragon King’s Daughter for dinner with friends, where we will gather at our favorite long bar table. I will slide in just before happy hour ends and order a discounted bottle of The Whole She-Bang. Over the course of edamame, tacos and lots of talk, I will consume The Whole She-Bang — of course if anyone wants to help me drink it, I’m down.

After we’ve gotten our DKD fill, we will migrate next door to Big Bar, nabbing some tables on the front patio and enjoying some fresh beer while the boys dance on the bar. We will shake hands, exchange hugs, buy rounds, dance and tuck dollars in the boys’ briefs.

It’ll be epic. It’ll be invigorating. It’ll be social. But unfortunately for now, it’ll be only in my dreams.

Let’s all do a Quaffing in Quarantine toast to the future:

May the winds of fortune sail you,
May you sail a gentle sea.
May it always be the other buddy
Who says, “This drink’s on me!”