More than a year-round destination for adventure, fun, and relaxation, Grand Geneva Resort & Spa in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin should also be on every serious foodies list as well. That’s because, under the direction of Food & Beverage Director, Nelly Buleje and new Executive Chef Dustin Urbanik, this popular resort is dishing up exceptional seasonal flavors on their new fall menus.
From the resort’s popular elevated Saturday brunch which are focusing on such autumn delights as pumpkin pancakes and fall flavored mimosas to in-house made desserts like apple crumble to seasonal soups and sides such as lobster bisque with Maine lobster sherry, tarragon, lobster brodo, sourdough crisp and caviar; truffle creamed spinach with black truffle, mornay, and farmstead cheese; and rainbow carrots and parsnips with bourbon and maple glaze, the resort and its collection of restaurants are bursting with fall flavors.
There’s also an impressive new fall cocktail menu with selections like Wisconsin Apple Old Fashioned; Smoked Maple Mile; a White Pumpkin cocktail; Espresso S’MORES-tini; and more (check out the fun visuals here). By popular demand, the resort’s seafood boil and Midwestern prime rib roasts will run every Friday and Saturday through November 12.
In addition to the new fall flavors, here are some new autumn offerings and programming guests and families can expect:
Seasonal outdoor adventures including hiking, biking, an indoor pool and waterpark, horseback riding, championship golf, skiing and snowboarding in the winter, and more.
One of the best ways to get around and explore the 1,300 acre-campus and beautiful Lake Geneva as well as Wisconsin’s scenic backroads is by the resort’s scooters and new this year, e-bikes. Rent one for a few hours or take a guided tour around the area with. The perfect way to spend an autumn afternoon with family or a group of friends (must be 18+, check out rules here).
Families will also enjoy new programming such as pumpkin painting; DIY caramel apples; excursions to Pearce’s Farm (local farm with fresh produce, kid’s activities and corn maze); and a Grand Escape – the resort’s very own pop up escape room.
Wondering what fork to use when serving bourbon isn’t a question we commonly ask, but authors Peggy Noe Stevens and Susan Reigler are entertainment and bourbon experts who travel frequently conducting seminars and tastings. The impetus for their book stems from being constantly asked how to go about hosting the perfect cocktail or dinner party starting from table setting to pairing the best foods and bourbons.
Now Stevens and Reigler are the type of Kentucky women who if they were going to tailgate at the Kentucky Derby wouldn’t bring a cooler filled will take-out from the deli counter of the local grocery store to be served on paper plates and eaten with plastic dinnerware. This type of Kentucky woman brings great grandmother’s silver serving dishes and great great Aunt Mabel’s fine China. And, of course, the food would be equally well turned out though not necessarily fussy or hard to make.
Despite the elegance of it all, Stevens and Reigler don’t want anyone “to work their fingers to the bone planning and executing.”
After all, they say, “the best form of bourbon etiquette is simple to make people feel comfortable.”
The following recipes are from Which Fork Do I Use With My Bourbon.
Dark and Bloody Mary:
1 teaspoon salt, pepper, paprika mix
2 ounces bourbon
2 large lemon wedges
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 can (6 ounces) tomato juice
To prepare the seasoning mix, combine in a mortar (or spice grinder) one part each smoked sea salt, smoked black pepper, and smoked paprika (the authors suggest these should all come from Bourbon Barrel Foods–bourbonbarrelfoods.com). Finely crush with a pestle and shake together in a jar.
To a pint glass or a large mason jar filled with ice, add the bourbon, squeeze and drop in the lemon wedges, and add 1teaspoon of the seasoning mix and the Worcestershire sauce. Shake. Add more ice and the tomato juice. Shake again.
Garnish with a long straw and baby corn, large pitted black olive, and cherry pepper, all on a stick.
Combine all the cocktail ingredients in a shaker. Shake on ice and double-strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a sage leaf.
Macerate 1 pint of dates with rich syrup (1 pound of “sugar in the raw” and ½ pound of water, heated and stirred until the sugar dissolves).
Susan’s Tuna Spread:
Author Susan Reigler came across this recipe forty years ago in a small spiral-bound book of recipes by James Beard that was included with her purchase of a Cuisinart food processor. She always gets raves when she serves it. Spicy and tangy, this is not your bachelor uncle’s bland tuna fish salad.
2 5-ounce cans albacore tuna packed in water, drained
⅓ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup tightly packed fresh parsley sprigs
Juice of 1 lemon
1½ tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and blend briefly.
Bourbon Pineapple Poundcake:
1 cup brown sugar
¼ cup bourbon
1 to 2 fresh pineapples, quartered and sliced
in thick strips
1 pound cake
Preheat the oven to 175 degrees. Mix the brown sugar and bourbon until it forms a thin paste. Lay the pineapple strips side by side in a baking dish.
Brush the brown sugar mixture thickly on the pineapple strips. Put the dish in the oven and allow the mixture to melt over the pineapple until warm.
Lay the pineapple strips over slices of pound cake and ladle any extra juice over each slice. Serve immediately.
Woodford Reserve Chocolate Bread Pudding:
12 cups stale French bread, diced in 1-inch cubes
1 quart whole milk
3 eggs, beaten
1¾ cups sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
6 ounces dark or bittersweet chocolate, chopped in large chunks
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Place the bread cubes in a large bowl and toss with the milk until the
bread is moistened. Soak for at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together the eggs, sugar,
vanilla, and cinnamon and pour over the bread-milk mixture. Fold
together until well mixed.
Fold in the chocolate chunks and mix until evenly distributed. Pour
into a greased, deep 13- by 9-inch pan. Drizzle the melted butter over
the batter and cover with foil.
Bake for 30 minutes covered and then for another 10 to 15 minutes
uncovered, until the pudding is set and firm in the middle and golden
brown on top. Serve warm with Bourbon Butter Sauce.
“Bourbon is a legacy of blue grass, water and Kentucky limestone,” Carol Peachee tells me when I ask what makes Kentucky bourbon so prized.
Limestone? Water? Bluegrass? What’s that have to do with fine bourbon?
Turns out it’s quite simple. According to Peachee, the limestone filters the iron out of the water as it flows through the rock, producing a sweet-tasting mineral water perfect for making the greatest tasting liquor. Limestone, with its heavy calcium deposits, also is credited with the lush blue grass the state’s prize-winning horses gaze upon — making their bones strong.
It’s been a long time since I took geology in college, but I do like the taste of good bourbon and the sight of stately horses grazing in beautiful pastures and the more I can learn about it all, the better. Which is why I love Peachee’s entrancing photographs.
I first met Peachee, an award-winning professional photographer, when she was autographing copies of her latest book, Straight Bourbon: Distilling the Industry’s Heritage (Indiana University Press 2017; $28). Creating beauty as well as a sense of yearning, her books, including The Birth of Bourbon: A Photographic Tour of Early Distilleries, take us on a wanderlust journey of lost distilleries and those now re-emerging from the wreckage of Prohibition. At one time, Kentucky had over two hundred commercial distilleries, but only sixty-one reopened after the repeal of Prohibition in 1933. Now, as Kentucky bourbon becomes a driving force throughout the world, once barely remembered and long closed distilleries are being restored and revamped and are opening again for business.
Using a photographic technique known as high-dynamic-range imaging ― a process that produces rich saturation, intensely clarified details, and a full spectrum of light ― Peachee hauntingly showcases the vibrancy still lingering in artifacts such as antique tools, worn cypress fermenting tubs, ornate copper stills some turning slightly green with oxidation and age, gears and levers —things we would never typically think of as lovely and compelling.
Traveling with the Book
Keeping copies of her books in my car when I travel to Kentucky, I love visiting some of the places and sites she’s photographed.
Her passion for bourbon may also have come about, in part, because she lives in Lexington, Kentucky which is rich in the history of bourbon making (and, we should say, sipping).
To get a taste of how bourbon connects to the land, when in Lexington, Peachee suggests a stop at the Barrel House Distilling Co. including the Elkhorn Tavern located in the old James B. Pepper barrel plant. It’s part of Lexington’s happening Distillery District. But fine bourbon doesn’t just stop in Lexington.
“There are so many bourbon distilleries now,” she says, noting that the heritage of good bourbon making is more than the equipment and the water.
“The cultural heritage of distilling also lays in the human culture,” she writes in the Acknowledgements section of her latest book, “the people who learned the crafts of milling, copper welding and design, barrel making and warehouse construction and then passed them on through the generations down to today’s workers and owners.”
And now Peachee has passed them down to us so we can fully appreciate the art of distilling
Town Branch Bourbon Bramble
3/4oz Fresh squeeze lemons
3/4oz Simple syrup
5 Fresh blackberries muddled
Shake with ice, strain and pour over fresh ice in rock glass with blackberry garnish.
Town Branch Bourbon Mint Julep
2 oz Bourbon
8 mint leaves
1/4oz simple syrup
Dash of bitters
Add crushed ice with mint garnish and straw.
The above recipes are courtesy of the Lexington Brewing & Distilling Company.
When Piña de Plata or the Silver Pineapple first opened in 1817, the location in what is now La Habana Vieja, Spanish for Old Havana would have been just known as downtown Havana back then. Located at the end of Calle Obispo, across Monserrate Street from the National Museum of Fine Arts of Havana, the streets in front of the muddy pinkish-red stucco exterior with its famous neon sign bustles with cars with fins in Easter egg colors and matching interiors. It’s a sea of pinks, purples, sky blues, two tones of white and maroon and other combos. We could be in a scene from “Mad Men,” but instead of crystal clear martinis, we’re heading to El Floridita.
200 Years and Counting
The name changed from the Silver Pineapple happened in 1914 about the same time that Constantino Ribalaigua began learning to mix drinks from his father. Four years later, Ribalaigua, who later earned the nickname of “El Rey de los Coteleros” or The Cocktail King of Cuba, had earned enough money to buy the place. He was only 26 and would own it for decades, creating more than 200 cocktails and adapting dozens more.
Creating the Hemingway Daiquiri
It was one of Ribalaigua’s adaptations that made him famous—the recipe and the person who frequently left his apartment down the street after spending the morning writing and relaxed with a couple—or maybe even more—daiquiris. A concoction of white rum, maraschino liqueur or cherries depending upon the recipe, freshly squeezed lemon juice or pineapple juice and sugar or a sugar syrup, it pleased Ernest Hemingway so much, that soon El Floridita, daiquiris, and Hemingway became an icon of the bestselling author’s days in Cuba. El Floridita soon earned a subtitle, becoming “la cuna del daiquiri” or the cradle of the daiquiri.
At opening time, the doors open and people stream in. They’re a mixed lot. College students, older literary types, locals probably bemoaning that they can’t have a quiet drink because of all these tourists, men who looked like artists and musicians, women in exotic outfits looking like poets and writers. The shiny mahogany bar is an extravagant piece of beautiful wood where red-jacketed bartenders swiftly add ingredients and then buzz them in the blender.
Daiquiris for All
These bartenders are smooth, able to mix and pour two daiquiris at a time. They need to be, the surge of people is endless. There’s a neo-classicist style to the decor. Huge paintings back up the bar and line several large walls. Chandeliers drip from the ceiling, the tables in the large dining room have white tablecloths and louvered doors. The bar itself is rather dark though streaks of the stunning sunshine stream through the door. Musicians come up on the small stage and play Cuban music, jazz, Bolero, Timba, and their own compositions as well including music from the eastern end of the island.
You don’t have to imagine Hemingway sitting at the bar, a bronze bust of him in his favorite corner was sculpted in 1954. And it’s easy to pause when my eye captures the lifestyle statue of him at the bar that was added almost 50 years later. Another honorific is a plaque with a Hemingway quote: “My mojito in the Bodeguita del Medio and my daiquiri in the Floridita.”
But probably the best indication of the author’s prestige and power as a tourist attraction is the lure of the blender as it mixes another daiquiri (there are four varieties associated with Hemingway and I’ve included two of them below) and the clinking of glasses as patrons toast the author and, of course, his drink.
2 oz. white rum (Floridita uses Havana club)
½ oz. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. maraschino liqueur
1 tsp. granulated sugar
1½ cups crushed ice
Mix the lime juice and sugar in a blender and pulse to combine. Add the maraschino and crushed ice and blend on high speed, gradually adding rum to the mix. Pour into a chilled large cocktail glass.
2 ounces white rum (I prefer Brugal)
Juice of ½ lime
½ ounce fresh grapefruit juice
¼ ounce maraschino liqueur
1 teaspoon simple syrup
Shake with ice, and strain into coupe. Garnish with a lime wheel.
Mr. Purple, a swank rooftop restaurant and bar on the 15th floor of Hotel Indigo in New York’s Lower East Side, is again hosting Veuve Clicquot Winter Chalet.
As my friend Victoria Collins describes this special pop-up event, it’s a funky apres-ski lodge in the sky with fur-lined seating, ambient lighting and a custom Veuve Clicquot champagne bar inside a magically lit igloo–think the ultimate snow globe experience–one with drinks and food.
Sip this classic Champagne and nibble on the limited-time menu featuring such foods as a rich cheese fondue as well as other sweet and savory fondues, short rib empanadas, tempura baby zucchini, and pretzel bites while enjoying the all-encompassing views of the city and locally sourced foods as well as the vibrant feel of the pulse of New York.
Operated by the Gerber Group, the hospitality industry powerhouse, Mr. Purple has garnered high praise from Thrillist and Gotham and is definitely the place to be this holiday season.
While sipping Veuve Clicquot, give a toast to the Widow Clicquot who after her husband’s death took over his business and ensured that it would become, in time, an international company. The word veuve is French for widow and Barbe-Nicole was only 27 when her husband died in 1805. It was a time where there were few if any French businesswomen and none were allowed to even have a bank account. Yes, we have come a long way.
But Widow Veuve was audacious and bold. To encourage Napoleon’s Officers to protect her property she gave them bottles of her Champagne and plenty of it. Of course, being on horseback meant the officers couldn’t hold both bottles and glasses. So they jettisoned the glasses and used their swords to cut through the necks of the bottles, a practice now known as sabering according to Tilar J. Mazzeo who described this incident in his book, The Widow Clicquot: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It.Needless to say, you shouldn ‘t try this either at home or on a horse. Just pop the cork instead please.
The widow’s bribe worked. The officers got to drink fine Champagne, riding away happy and the Widow Clicquot’s property was safe. The Widow also revolutionized the Champagne industry with her innovations including a way to produce a crystal-clear champagne free of sediments as well as creating the first blended rose champagne and the first registered vintage Champagne. Her dream all those years ago was stated by her plainly in 1831: “I would like my brand to be ranked first in both New York and St. Petersburg”
We’d say her business plan worked out quite well. But what we really love is another of her famous quotes.
“Lobster salad and champagne are the only things a woman should ever be seen eating.”
We can drink to that.
See you at Mr. Purple.
Reservations for Veuve Clicquot Winter Chalet, which begins November 15, can be made up to can be made 10 days in advance at https://www.mrpurplenyc.com/.
It’s time to say goodbye to the days of rosé and warm up with the seasonal fall cocktails at Nearly Ninth at Arlo Midtown. Now available are the Cider-Car, Apple Cider Mimosa, Chai-Town, Hopscotch, Bourbon Smash and the gorgeous Applejack Sazerac (pictured below). The Applejack Sazerac is the ultimate autumnal cocktail, including Laird’s Applejack, Woodford Reserve, Honey, Peychaud Bitters and finished with Absinthe and a rinse of Allspice.
A drink crafted to the warm the soul, Zuma’s Japanese Old Fashioned is garnished with a freshly cut orange slice and two berries and takes a new twist on a timely classic. Made with Toki Japanese Whisky, Hokuto sugar and bitters this rich, smooth and silky cocktail will leave you begging for another.
Cocktail name: Pumpkin Spice Martini Westin Cape Coral Resort’s restaurant, Marker 92 Waterfront Bar & Bistro, is serving up the delicious Pumpkin Spice Martini, made with Smirnoff Vanilla Vodka, Bailey’s Irish Cream and Pumpkin Liquor. This festive drink is then topped with Whipped Cream, a dash of Cinnamon and Nutmeg. For those traveling to Cape Coral for Thanksgiving this fall, Marker 92 will be celebrating with a dedicated holiday dinner menu, as well as additional festive cocktails like their Apple Cider Mimosa, Cranberry Apple Sangria and Thanksgiving Punch. Price: $14
If you’re looking to shake off the chilly fall weather, look no further than The Irvington. Located in Union Square, the bartenders are now offering chic fall cocktails including the Bourbon Smash and our personal favorite, the Cider-Car (pictured center, below). Served in a coupe and topped with a dry apple chip, this Insta-worthy cocktail features Cognac, apple cider, lemon juice, apricot liquor and a hard cider float.
The English-inspired boutique hotel is renowned for its innovative (and oftentimes whimsical) cocktails, and someone who plays a large role in that recognition is its chief spirits officer, Jorge Centeno, who spearheads the property’s beverage program and mixes up some of the inn’s most popular, Instagram-worthy creations. Now, visitors to the inn can embrace spooky season all autumn long with Jorge’s fun play on Alfred Hitchcock’s creepy fall classic, The Birds, with The Birds Poison Punch cocktail – infused with mezcal and tequila, tepache, blue curaçao, lemon juice, mineral water and lavender smoke.
Combine ingredients over ice & stir for 30 revolutions. Can be served up or on a large format Ice cube. Garnish with an orange twist.
What makes it unique: “For those chocolate lovers. A savory balance of incredible spirits that accentuate the beautiful dark chocolate flavor you crave. The orange & vanilla notes from the Anejo tequila pair deliciously with the bitter notes made famous by Campari. A wonderfully warm and cozy libation for the fall” – Ian McKinney
With temperatures dropping as fall arrives, the newly opened, Spanish-inspired restaurant MDRD atop the historic Amway Grand Plaza in Grand Rapids, MI boasts flavorful twists on classic warm Spanish cocktails, including its cozy Spanish Coffee, which is crafted with rich overproof demerara rum and orange curacao flamed to perfection, both mixed into European roast coffee. The drink is then topped with whipped cream and a garnish of freshly grated nutmeg and gold leaf, satisfying imbibers’ taste, smell and sight on chilly autumn evenings.
Our favorite fall vegetable is tequila. LIQS, the world’s first premixed cocktail shot, is bringing you all the fall flavors with their Tequila Cinnamon Orange shot. In European countries, it’s common to take a shot of tequila with a cinnamon-sprinkled orange slice instead of salt and lime; thus, LIQS’ version was born. This mind-blowing flavor combination will change the way you look at tequila for a sweeter, smoother shot. Portable, pre-packaged, and premixed, LIQS’ lightweight four-packs are perfect for taking on-the-go. The shots are low carb, low sugar, low cal and gluten free and available across the U.S. for $9.99 – find the Tequila Cinnamon Orange here on Total Wine.
Akin to a premium rum punch, the Spice Market is made from Plantation three-star rum and Plantation original dark rum, mixed with complimentary sweet, spicy and sour flavors: charred banana, Orgeat (a nutty floral syrup), aromatic fall spices, and lime. This autumn orange-colored cocktail is topped with smoked banana foam and garnished with a peony.
This deep orange cocktail is a more riveting spin on a classic margarita, using fresh ingredients from tropical environments and mezcal, giving it a smokier flavor. Garnished with a mint leaf and a tajin-crusted glass, this one puts a fall twist on a summer staple.
Channeling the refreshingly crisp autumn air that engulfs the Holy City, the “An Apple a Day” cocktail utilizes organic apple cider, apple brandy and vanilla liqueur to provide immediate refreshment and invoke memories of fall days spent at the orchard. Combined with bourbon, a spritz of fresh lemon juice, and house-made fall spice syrup, it’s the ideal drink to sip on after a beautiful fall day exploring Charleston.
This cocktail from T2, a sophisticated rum and cigar lounge at Grand Hyatt Baha Mar, an expansive oceanfront luxury resort in the Bahamas, gives a kick to the classic Caribbean mojito combining rum and fresh mint leaves with house-made pumpkin syrup and pumpkin whipped cream, topped with a dash of soda. Guests can sip and savor as they take in the surrounding tunes of live Bahamian music and indulge in cigar pairing suggestions from in-house mixologists to create an all-encompassed experience.
The Inns of Aurora, a luxury lakeside boutique resort in the Finger Lakes, serves up the warming “Lost Moose” cocktail at their Fargo Bar & Grill, a tavern serving elevated eats and late-night drinks. Cozy up with hazelnut liqueur, Jack Daniels honey and apple juice, with a splash of ginger ale, in a mug – served hot.
DenimatThe Joseph, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Nashville Cocktail name:Life Is But a Dram Comfortable luxury, seasonally-inspired craft cocktails and an all-day menu of American and Italian favorites by Chef Tony Mantuano and team await at The Joseph Nashville’s rooftop bar, Denim. One of Denim’s signature cocktails perfect for Fall, Life Is But a Dram, is a spirited take on a Manhattan made with Heaven’s Door whiskey and The Joseph’s “Highway 61” whiskey blend, espresso-infused Carpano Antica, Angostura bitters and orange bitters.
1.5 oz Heaven’s Door Highway 61 The Joseph Blend whiskey 1.5 oz espresso-infused Carpano Antica sweet vermouth 2 dashes of Angostura bitters Orange twist or orange oil Dehydrated orange slice (optional)
Add ingredients to mixing glass. Add ice and stir for 45 seconds. Strain into a coupe glass. Spray with orange oil or express oils from a fresh orange peel. Garnish with a dehydrated orange slice.
Find the perfect fall respite within Manhattan at The Parlour Restaurant and Bar, where the Chili Mule is the perfect blend of classic fall spices. Made with premium Scottish Vodka, Arbikie infused with Chili, Ginger Beer, Fresh Lime Juice, and Rosemary Simple Syrup, it’s the perfect drink to enjoy on fall nights along with The Parlour’s Jazzy Wednesdays, featuring the Café Society.
Cocktail enthusiasts looking for a drink to sip during the crisp fall months should try Brugal 1888’s “East to West” cocktail. This unique fall-themed recipe fuses the premium rum – produced in the Dominican Republic by the 5th generation Brugal family – with maple syrup and apricot liqueur, adding a sweet flavor with hints of fruity and citrus notes.
Cocktail name: Merriman’s Coconog Sip on Merriman’s Coconog this holiday season for a tropical twist on the classic eggnog cocktail. Highlighting tastes of coconut and cinnamon, Merriman’s Coconog uses an Old Forester Bourbon and Licor 43 base mixed with coconut milk and freshly ground nutmeg. Top it off with whipped cream and enjoy in paradise!
13.5 oz Coconut Milk
6 oz Whole Milk
3 whole eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 tsp freshly ground Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
Blend on high speed for a full minute.
Whisk over double boiler until mixture reaches 160 F.
Shake 6 oz of chilled Eggnog Mix with:
1/2 oz Licor 43
1/2 oz Old Forester Bourbon
Pour in carved Coconut Top with a dollop of fresh whipped cream and a sprinkle of ground nutmeg.
Marriott Marquis Houston’s completely reimagined holiday lights event, Texas Winter Lights, will be serving innovative, boozy fall cocktails for any crisp autumn day. High Dive (the rooftop restaurant & bar) curated an all-new hot “Spiced Apple Pie” drink inspired by the aroma and taste of a delicious homemade apple pie. With the smell of cinnamon and spiced apples, this cocktail is sure to put anyone in the fall mood. Other fall cocktails will include a “Spiced Pear Martini,” a fruity seasonal punch with a crisp cranberry and orange finish, and a glow-in-the-dark “Starry Night” ginger mule (that even chan
When Prince-Elector Friedrich V married Elizabeth Stuart, the daughter of King James I in 1613, it was–like the majority of royal marriages—based on political alliances and gains. Love had nothing to do with it.
But sometimes it worked out differently and so it was between Friedrich and Elizabeth who fell in love. Heidelberg Castle, where they lived, was already old, dating back to 1200s and the Prince-Elector wanting Elizabeth to love her new home added an English Palace and an elaborate Baroque garden.
But theirs was to be a tragic love story. There were battles, a throne lost, regained, and then lost forever. During all that, Elizabeth bore 13 children before Fredrich died and she sought life in exile.
The castle, a romantic ruin of seemingly endless staircases and corridors taking you here, there, and sometimes nowhere, stands 330-feet above the Alstadt, Heidelberg’s wonderful old town. Towers and battlements protect stone facades, their decorative features still intact though the rooms behind them are gone. Views into the multitude of windows reveals not an interior but woods and the Neckar River below.
“Deserted, discrowned, beaten by the storms, but royal still, and beautiful,” is how Mark Twain described the Gothic-Renaissance castle. He was one of many poets and writers who spent time in what they considered the most romantic city in the world.
The castle is also home to the Heidelberg Tun, a 58, 124 gallon wine barrel said to be the largest in the world. It was built in 1751 on orders from Prince Elector Karl Theodor to store the wine paid in taxes by the region’s wine growers. We should all be so lucky to have too much wine.
Brews and Pork Knuckles
Taking the funicular down to the old town, I meet friends at Vetter’s Alt Heidelberger Brauhaus on Steingasse, Europe’s longest carless street. It’s one of those baronial style Germanic places with high ceilings, large wood beams, long tables and a lot of dark highly polished wood.
Famed for their Vetter’s 33, which they say is the strongest beer in the world, its alcohol content is—you guessed it—33%. But it isn’t all beer her, they’re famed for their traditional German food and so I decide to go full German, ordering the pork knuckle, sauerkraut and dumpling with gravy. Skipping the 33, I opt for the Hubier—a mix of the lager and elderberry syrup.
History, Luxury and a Family Touch
My love affair with the city began several years before when I checked into the five-star Hotel Europäischer Hof Heidelberg. The hotel, one of the few five-star family run hotels in Europe, opened in 1865 and has been owned by von Kretschmann family since around the turn of the last century.
I’d heard that Sylvia von Kretschmann, who with her husband Ernst-Friedrich, ran the hotel for a half-century before their daughter Dr. Caroline von Kretschmann took over, regularly did the hotel’s large floral arrangements. So it was no surprise when I ran into this very elegant woman doing just that in Die Kurfürstenstube, the hotel’s opulent dining room that opened in 1866. Such a romantic place and romantic tradition—how could I not fall in love?
My romance continued at Chocolaterie Knosel where owner Liselotte Knosel talked about studentenkussor or student kiss, a chocolate covered nougat created by her great grandfather Fridolin Knosel in 1863. His Café Knosel was frequented by male university students who admired women from a local finishing school who were, alas, chaperoned by their governesses. A gift of student kisses was a sly way to start a flirtation.
We don’t know how well it turned out for the students but these confections, still hand crafted, remain best sellers more than 150 years later. Café Knosel—the city’s oldest café—is my go to spot for coffee and a pastry at one of their outdoor tables overlooking the church on Marktplatz.
At dusk, on my last night, I boarded Patria, a 1930s ship for dining and a cruise along the Neckar River. Watching the city lights sparkle in the calm water, I knew that though my visit was ending, the romance was just beginning. I would be back.
Evan Williams, Kentucky’s first distillery, is hosting “The Ideal Bartender Experience” as part of Louisville’s celebration of African American history. The distillery was founded by Evan Williams in 1783, but the experience takes visitors no further back then to the final days of Prohibition and into a secret speakeasy at the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, a multi-million dollar artisanal distillery, immersive tourism destination and retail location on Louisville’s Whiskey Row.
The Ideal Bartender Experience, separate from the other tours available at Evan Williams, introduces guests to Tom Bullock, the first Black American to write and publish a cocktail book. Written in 1917, “The Ideal Bartender” was almost lost to history despite Bullock’s fame at the time.
Greg Boehm, owner of the New York-based company, Cocktail Kingdom, has close to 4000 books about cocktails in what is said to be the largest collection in the world. Consider the collection research as Cocktail Kingdom manufactures professional barware, reprints vintage bar literature, and a full spectrum of professional and custom barware, artisan bitters and syrups.
According to Go to Louisville, several years ago Boehm was contacted by a woman wanting to sell a first edition of The Ideal Bartender. It was the one book Boehm was missing and so he jumped at the chance to own an original copy.
“In the cocktail bar industry, unfortunately, the African American community is not very well represented at all. It is just not a diverse group, so anything that lends diversity to bartending is a good thing,” Boehm explained. “In addition, The Ideal Bartender is a little snapshot of what people were drinking pre-Prohibition, and unlike a lot of cocktail books, none of these recipes were cribbed from anyone else. This is a completely unique cocktail book.”
Bullock, a stately looking man, was known to make some powerful — and according to article in The New York Times — addictive cocktails. He was also reputed to be a great conversationalist and to have a wide range of knowledge on current events–which was expected of a bartender working in rarified places.
Though Bullock was known to the wealthy elite who sipped his cocktails he was relatively unknown until former President Theodore Roosevelt filed a libel suit in 1913 against a newspaper claiming he was not only a liar but also frequently drunk. In his testimony, Roosevelt said that one of the few drinks he’d ever had — and that didn’t happen until he had left the White House — was a mint julep mixed for him by Bullock at the St. Louis Country Club. And, Roosevelt told the court, he took only a sip or two.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch called this out as a lie, printing an editorial opining, “Who was ever known to drink just a part of one of Tom’s juleps? Tom, than whom there is no greater mixologist of any race, was taught the art of the julep by no less than Marse Lilburn G. McNair, the father of the julep. Are the Colonel’s powers of restraint altogether transcendent?”
Marse, for those who don’t know their Missouri or mint julep history, was the grandson of Alexander McNair, the first governor of the state.
Whether he drank more than half of the mint julep or not, Roosevelt won his suit, and Bullock became famous for his bartending skills. Patrons who loved his cocktails included George Herbert Walker — you know the last name, as he was the grandfather and great-grandfather of our 41st and 43rd U.S. presidents, and August Busch Sr., CEO of Anheuser-Busch, who each helped get the book published.
“I have known the author for many years, and it is a privilege to be permitted to testify to his qualifications…” In all that time I doubt that he has erred in event one of his concoctions,” wrote Bush in the intro to Bullock’s book.
Bullock was quite creative when it came to drinks, creating a version of an Old Fashioned easily transported in a flask for those attending the matches at the St. Louis Polo Club.
The 45-minute tour at The Ideal Bartender Experience includes a taste of three premium whiskeys as well as a mint julep made from one of Bullock’s recipes, is one of several fascinating immersive experiences taking place in Louisville.
Tom Bullock’s Old Fashioned for the Polo Field
Fill one eight ounce flask with 100 proof bourbon near to the top. Shove four raw sugar cubes or pour four raw sugar packets into the mouth of your flask, dash eight times with Angostura. Shake the flask vigorously. Pour the contents over the largest ice cubes you can find.
Penguins, Bourbon, Art, & Haute Southern Cuisine come together in Louisville.
Much more than a place to lay your head, 21c Museum Hotel with locations in Louisville, Cincinnati, Des Moines, Chicago, St. Louis, Lexington, Kansas City, Oklahoma City, Nashville, Durham, and Bentonville, Arkansas, is a total immersion into art or, maybe better put, it’s a night in the art museum.
In Louisville, it started when I spied a 4-foot penguin at the end of the hall as I headed to my room but 30 minutes later when I opened my door, the rotund red bird was there in front of me. “Don’t worry,” said a man walking by. “They’re always on the move.”
The migratory birds, sculptures first exhibited at the 2005 Venice Biennale and now part of the collection of 21c Museum Hotel in Louisville add a touch of whimsy. But with 9,000 square feet of gallery space and art in all corridors and rooms, three-fourths coming from the owners’ private collection valued at $10 million, 21c is a serious museum.
Carved out of five former 19th-century bourbon and tobacco warehouses, 21c is both part of the revitalization of Louisville’s delightful downtown and a transformation of art from backdrop into upfront and thought-provoking.
The sleek, minimalist interior — uber-urbanism with linear white walls dividing the main lobby and downstairs gallery into cozy conversational and exhibit spaces — is softened with touches of the buildings’ past using exposed red brick walls and original timber and iron support beams as part of the decor. Named by Travel + Leisure as one of the 500 Best Hotels in the World, 21c is also the first North American museum of 21st-century contemporary art.
I find more whimsy on a plate at Proof on Main, the hotel’s restaurant, when the waiter plops down my bill and a fluff of pink cotton candy — no after-dinner mints here. For more about the cotton candy, see the sidebar below. But the food, a delicious melange of contemporary, American South, and locally grown, will please even the most serious foodinista. It’s all creative without being too over the top. Menu items include charred snap peas tossed with red chermoula on a bed of creamy jalapeno whipped feta,
And, of course, the Proof on Main staple since first opening. 8 ounce patty, char grilled to your preferred temp (chef recommended medium rare), served with smoky bacon, extra sharp cheddar and sweet onion jam to compliment the game of the meat nicely. Local Bluegrass bakery makes our delicious brioche buns. The burger comes house hand cut fries. For the ending (but it’s okay if you want to skip everything else and get down to the Butterscotch Pot De Créme, so very luxuriously smooth and rich pot de creme with soft whipped cream and crunchy, salty pecan cookies.
House-cured pancetta seasons the baby Brussels sprouts, grown on the restaurant’s 1,000-acre farm. Local is on the drink menu as well with more than 50 regional and seasonal Kentucky bourbons.
A meal like this demands a walk, so I step outside (more art here) on Main, a street of 19th-century cast-iron facades, the second largest collection in the U.S. Once known as Whiskey Row, it’s refined now as Museum Row on Main. To my left, a 120-foot bat leans on the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory, across the street is the Louisville Science Center, and nearby are several more including the Muhammad Ali Center.
Heading east, I take a 15-minute stroll to NuLu, an emerging neighborhood of galleries, restaurants and shops. I’ve come for the Modjeskas, caramel-covered marshmallows created in 1888 in honor of a visiting Polish actress and still made from the original recipe at Muth’s Candies. On the way back to 21c, I detour through Waterfront Park, a vast expanse of greenway on the Ohio River, taking time to bite into a Modjeska and watch boats pass by.
21C MUSEUM HOTEL, 700 W. Main St., Louisville, Ky., 502-217-6300, 21chotel.com
As an aside, the idea for the cotton candy originated with co-founder Steve Wilson. Here’s the story, from the restaurant’s blog, Details Matter. “A memory that sticks with Steve from his younger years is the circus coming to town. Steve grew up in a small town in far Western Kentucky along the Mississippi River called Wickliffe He distinctly remembers the year the one striped tent was erected on the high school baseball field. Certainly not the large three ringed circus many others may remember, but the elephants, the handsome people in beautiful costumes…they were all there. When Steve sat through the show he got a glimpse into a fantasy world he didn’t know existed. A departure from reality. Oftentimes, after his trip to the circus, when he was sad or frustrated, he would daydream about running away to the circus. In fact, he’ll tell you he used to pull the sheets of his bed over his head, prop them up in the middle and pretend to be the ringmaster in his own crazy circus tent! In his eyes, the circus was where everything was beautiful, and no one would cry.
“Fast forward many years later, Steve met Laura Lee Brown at a dinner party in Louisville. He was immediately smitten and wanted to impress her. SO naturally one of his first dates was a trip to the circus at the KY Expo Center. Whether she was impressed or not, it seems to have worked.
“Years later, as Steve and Laura Lee were working on the development of 21c Louisville, they took a trip to Mexico City. At the end of one particularly memorable dinner, the server ended the meal with pink cotton candy served on a green grass plate. It was sticky, messy, and immediately brought back memories from Steve’s childhood. It was a feel good memory he wanted to last.
“Steve often says 21c makes him actually FEEL like the ringmaster in his own circus, so as the restaurant plans were getting finalized, he wanted to incorporate cotton candy as an homage to that feeling. As we opened up each new restaurant, the cotton candy continued, each time with a color and flavor to match the color of the hotel’s resident penguins. Eight operating restaurants later, the hope is that each and every diner ends their meal a little sticky, a little messy, and feeling nostalgic about good childhood memories.”
Recipes courtesy of Proof on Main
2 cups self-rising flour
½ tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp light brown sugar
1 cup buttermilk
¼ heavy cream
6 tbsp butter
2 tbsp Crisco
Pre-heat oven to 350F. Grate butter on the coarse side of the grater and put butter in the freezer along with the Crisco. Mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl. Mix cream and buttermilk in a separate bowl. Once butter is very cold combine with the dry ingredients with hands until a coarse meal is made. Add the cold dairy to the mixture and fold until just combined. Roll out dough on a floured clean surface and cut biscuits with a ring mold cutter. Layout on sheet trays 2 inches apart. Bake for 8 minutes and rotate set timer for 8 more minutes. Once out of the oven brush with melted butter.
SMOKED CATFISH DIP
This recipe makes a lot, but you can easily divide it—or put the extra in a mason jar and give to a friend as a holiday gift.
YIELD: 1 QUART
1 lb. Smoked catfish 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 1 cup sour cream 3 Tablespoons small diced celery 3 Tablespoons small diced white onion Juice and Zest of One Lemon 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley 2 Tablespoons mayonnaise Salt and black pepper to taste
Lemon wedges Hot sauce Pretzel crackers Fresh dill for garnish
Flake the fish with your hands until it is fluffy. Combine the mustard, sour cream, celery, onion, parsley, lemon juice and zest and the mayonnaise together. Combine with the catfish and mix until it is well incorporated. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve cold with fresh dill and lemon wedges, your favorite hot sauce and pretzel crackers.
“This is a slightly complex variation of a margarita, adding smoky mezcal, bright cilantro and tangy mango-tamarind syrup. It was created as a play on the Mexican sweet treat, the Mangonada, with mango, a tamarind candy stick, and Tajin seasoning.” – Proof on Main Beverage Director, Jeff Swoboda.
3/4 oz Banhez 3/4 El Jimador Blanco 1/4 oz Cynar 70 1 oz mango-tamarind syrup 3/4 oz lime juice big pinch of cilantro
Shake together with ice, strain over fresh ice and garnish with a Tamarrico candy straw.
Proof on Main’s Mint Julep
1 cup mint leaves, plus a sprig or two for garnish
1 ounce sugar syrup
2 ounces bourbon
Crushed ice to fill glass
In a rocks glass, lightly press on mint with a muddler or back of a spoon. Add the sugar syrup. Pack the glass with crushed ice and pour the bourbon over the ice. Garnish with an extra mint sprig.