Wash hands, be smart, support local businesses

It’s a mad, mad world, y’all. I’ve always wondered how mass hysteria would start, like in the case of a zombie apocalypse or “The Handmaid’s Tale” premise. And now we know.

I’ve never made a meme before, or whatever they’re called, and frankly I’m getting tired of them. But I learned a long time ago from Punky Brewster that if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

Anyway, most of you might be content to isolate yourselves and binge on Netflix and toilet paper. But some of us are social creatures, and we refuse to let fear win. Yes, we will take every precaution necessary and wash our hands 80 times a day and bathe ourselves in Purell like it’s Dundee Dip.

Truth is, our local businesses need us right now. And it just so happens that I need a drink. So Saturday afternoon, despite the St. Patrick’s Parade being postponed, I will still patronize the bars and restaurants on Baxter Avenue and Bardstown Road because I believe it’s my civic duty as The Bar Belle to do so. I even thought of a name: Corona Crawl 2020.

I extend the invitation to anyone who wants to join. And I also will not judge you if you don’t, as long as you don’t judge me if I do. We all operate under free will, and if my will is craving green beer (I mean Guinness), then so be it.

Be safe, be smart, tip well and wash your damn hands!

#supportlocalbusinesses #keeplouisvillelit #barbellelou #coronacrawl2020

Justin's House of Bourbon

Justins’ House of Bourbon opens in Louisville, plus Four Roses’ NuLu Cocktail Challenge starts Saturday

Did you really think I’d let the Night Before Thanksgiving — Louisville’s biggest night to go out and chug Claws/compare lives with former high school classmates — go by without a word from your tried and true Bar Belle? Hell no!

Because I’ve got some news you can use that is all about booze.

First of all, what the heck happened over at Left Field Lounge? Looks like someone crashed into the little dive bar that sits just off Bardstown Road in the Highlands. That’s one of my favorite spots, so hopefully they’ll get it patched right quick and we can get back to droppin’ dollars in the juke box and sippin’ on Old Fo Sig.

Secondly, be safe out there tonight so you can stuff your face tomorrow. Here’s a Lyft code for you to plug into your phones RIGHT NOW ($10 off a ride), courtesy of the Kentucky Distillers Association and SafeRideKY: THANKSGIVINGKY19. Don’t say I never gave you anything!

OK, now for the news …

Justins’ House of Bourbon opens Louisville location

Justin's House of Bourbon

Introducing Justins’ House of Bourbon!

If you’ve never been to Justins’ House of Bourbon in Lexington, now you don’t even have to get on a highway to visit the newest location, smack dab in the middle of downtown Louisville. It’s part liquor store, part liquor museum (with dozens of vintage bottles) and part bar — featuring both cocktails and tastings.

The guys behind this also run The Bourbon Review magazine (which I am proud to write for now, so go get those subscriptions!) and also put on The Bourbon Classic, which will be here before you know it. So they’re champions for bourbon and the bourbon industry, and they’ve been so for years.

There have been some rumblings in the bourbon community that the everyday shelf prices of some of the bottles at Justins’ House are a bit pricey. And that’s true. Just remember, not all small-business owners can charge low rates for stuff and keep the lights on. Plus, I guarantee people are willing to pay it. There’s not a big selection of liquor stores downtown, so something about supply and demand applies here — I just wouldn’t know, because I got a C in Economics.

So stop your bitchin’ and stop in for a nice pour of something special. The prices at the bar are great, and they’ve got some bottles you can’t find most places. Plus, they do lots of store picks, and those you can get for a fairly reasonable price.

Justins’ House of Bourbon is located across from the White Castle, at 101 W. Market St.

Here are some more images:

Four Roses’ NuLu Holiday Cocktail Challenge starts Saturday

Cocktail at Taj

This one looks promising: Taj’s Night at the Movies

My ears tend to perk up when I get wind of a neighborhood cocktail challenge, because while the handful of contestants duke it out over who has the best cocktail, I just sit back and guzzle them all down. Case in point: Four Roses’ fifth annual NuLu Holiday Cocktail Challenge, which starts Saturday, Nov. 30.

Five bars are competing with holiday-themed cocktails, and it’s our job to go around and sample them all, and then vote at the link above. This event always seems to produce some great cocktails, and here’s a look at all five:

  • Against The Grain: Chai Need a Holiday
  • Garage Bar: Thurman Murman
  • Nouvelle: Winter’s Heart
  • Taj: A Night At The Movies
  • Rye: There Goes Christmas

While the competition will go through Dec. 20, there is the NuLu Days Sip & Stroll this Saturday as well, from 5-9 p.m. The event is a partnership between Four Roses, Do502 and Lyft, and you can even get a 10% discount on a Lyft ride home that night with the code: SIPNSTROLL.

So I’ll see you all on Saturday, sippin’ through NuLu.

Barrel Roll text

The Barrel Roll goes down Saturday, Nov. 9, in Paristown

Barrel Roll text

Expect lots of tastings!

On Saturday, Nov. 9, Paristown will be the place to be as the annual Barrel Roll rolls into the neighborhood, offering attendees with a smattering of beer, bourbon, beer aged in bourbon barrels, wine, gin, brandy, tequila, cocktails, food, local music and much more!

I haven’t been to a Barrel Roll, but that will change this year, because the lineup looks so enticing! The event is a fundraiser of sorts hosted by the folks who put on the annual Tailspin Ale Fest.

They set out to honor the humble barrel and all it does for spirits, and it sounds like everyone will have a great time getting acquainted with that concept. In fact, I may need many samples to truly learn how the barrel departs those wonderful flavors to various liquids.

This year, proceeds go to The Paristown Salon, a nonprofit influenced by the French Salons formed throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. Live music includes performances by the infamous Carly Johnson and Small Batch Brass.

The Barrel Roll will take place Saturday, Nov. 9, from 2-6 p.m. at Christy’s Garden in Paristown, which is located on Brent Street near the Old Forester Paristown Hall. Tickets are now on sale, and you may even get lucky and score an early bird special! Click on this link to go grab some! They start at $65.

Also related, the Bourbon City Cruisers tuk tuk will be there, and you might spot me on the news Tuesday morning driving one around, maybe taking a reporter or two for a ride. Tune in to WLKY and WDRB! Woot!

Today’s Reason To Drink

This is from a few years back, but could be the situation soon.

Well, if there’s any better reason to drink today than losing your job, I’m not sure what it is. Never mind … I know there are plenty of worse things that could be happening right now — and are happening — so I should be thankful to have my health, my friends, my family and my bourbon.

But yes, as of Aug. 7, 2019, Insider Louisville will be no more. It was a good five-year run for me and I’ve had the opportunity to immerse myself in the culture beat — including bourbon coverage — and write about what I deemed important. Or rather, what I believe my readers thought would be interesting.

It was great not having anyone standing behind my back telling me what to write and how to write it. I basically spent the last five years meeting awesome artists, performers, writers, brewers, distillers, marketers, bartenders — you name it: If they had an interesting story to share, I helped them share it.

So now it’s on to bigger and better things, hopefully. What that involves I have no idea at the moment. But I do know that I plan to ramp up this website and continue writing about bourbon, whiskey, beer, gin, rum and, yes, even White Claw. I hope to make my Tasteless Tastings more of a regular feature and bring you all the latest news as far as releases, distilleries, distillers, etc. go.

For anyone who would like to keep in touch and/or send me some news about all things bourbon, my email address is shavens76@gmail.com.

And, of course, you can also find me giving tours with Bourbon City Cruisers on any given night or weekend. Speaking of which … you should get six of your friends together and book a tour! We offer Distillery Tours during the afternoons and Cocktail Cruises in the evening.

Today’s Reason To Drink


Free koozies!

I’m hosting a happy hour tonight at Merle’s Whiskey Kitchen, and I know you’re gonna join me!

I’m giving away some beer koozies from my personal collection, so get there early if you want first dibs. It goes from 5-7 p.m., and Merle’s is on the corner of Main and Second streets.


Oh yeah, there are lots of drink specials, including a $5 Old Fashioned and a $3.50 Margarita. Bueno.

Today’s Reason To Drink

All aboard!

Holy shit, where has time gone? And, more importantly, where have I gone?

Nowhere. I’m right here. In Louisville. I just haven’t posted in a dick year because I’ve been busy doing work.

Of course I’m still with Insider Louisville, writing about all things bourbon, beer and bars, but very soon you’ll also be able to find me on the streets, driving a tuk-tuk and taking tourists (and residents) around the city for Bourbon City Cruisers.

That’s right. I’ll soon be a Cruiser Captain, if I pass my test on Monday. So you can hire me to take you on one of three tours in downtown Louisville — a sightseeing tour, a bourbon distillery tour or an Urban Bourbon Trail tour. The last two include drinks, so make sure you book those!

That’s my news and I’m sticking to it.

And if I fail my test on Monday, I suppose I’ll be back at the bar, drowning my sorrows and blaming my awkwardness.


Today’s Reason To Drink

Bah humbug.

Well, I found out why I increasingly dislike the holidays — except for St. Patrick’s Day.

On Sunday, I was attempting to put out one of those laser-beam lights that project red and green dots all over your damn house, and I missed a step on my back porch and sprained both ankles.

I know what you’re thinking, and the answer is no, I had not even had a drop of alcohol. I did just watch the Bengals lose to the Browns, so perhaps I was preoccupied with anger and disappointment.

So for the past two days, I’ve been working from my couch, and icing my ankles and keeping them elevated. I’m able to walk around and wiggle my toes, so I made the assumption that nothing was broken. And the swelling isn’t crazy bad.

It’ll heal, but in the meantime, you may see me walking as slow as bourbon-soaked molasses in January. I need to get one of those shopping cart scooters from Walmart so I can drive around downtown shouting at people and throwing handfuls of glitter at them.

Just one more reason Christmastime blows.

Oh wait, I did have one positive experience over Thanksgiving weekend. I won a Pappy from Kroger!! I managed to hit six of them last Friday night, entering my name in the raffle at each one. And while I stood out in the cold Saturday morning at the Liquor Barn Pappy raffle, waiting desperately for my number to be called, Kroger blew up my phone and gave me the good news.

Pappy New Year!