Bourbon just may be the new beer, judging by its exponential rise in popularity over the past two decades, and Kentucky’s tourism industry is reaping the benefits. Louisville’s immensely popular Urban Bourbon Trail is one indication of just how prosperous the bourbon business has become for the metro area. Thanks to its success, the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau has decided to expand the program to twenty new establishments to mark its four-year anniversary on May 30.
The Urban Bourbon Trail Passport program is open to all visitors aged 21 years and older and allows participants to receive “stamps” at participating bourbon-related venues. Passports may be picked up at the Louisville Visitors Center or downloaded for free as an iPhone or Android app. There is no time frame for completing the passport – like bourbon itself, the program works best when savored – and those who collect all six unique stamps may claim their prizes (an “Urban Bourbon Trailblazer” t-shirt and official “Citizen of Bourbon Country” certificate) at the Visitors Center.
The expanded 102-page passport will feature a map with each new location identified by its address, hours of operation, a short description, and a suggested cocktail. Also included are bourbon tasting tips and a map to Kentucky distilleries that offer public tours, and passport owners will receive 10% off a bottle of bourbon of their choice and “Just Add Bourbon” merchandise at Liquor Barn and Westport Whiskey and Wine.
Many favorite Louisville establishments are joining forces with the eight bars and restaurants already included on the Urban Bourbon Trail. Avalon, for example, is already known by locals for its full-service outdoor bourbon bar, and Dish on Market serves both the Leo’s “#1 Burger in Town” and the playful “Truman Breakfast” (named for the POTUS who preferred a shot of bourbon for his first meal of the day). Doc Crow’s  is located along revitalized Whiskey Row and serves traditional Southern soul food; Limestone (whose namesake is responsible for the fortified development of sour mash) offers nods to bourbon throughout its menu; the Bristol Bar and Grill  is a perennial winner of “Best of Louisville” awards, and its extensive bourbon list is one reason why; and the Village Anchor  in Anchorage is an up-and-coming purveyor of fine food and spirits. You can even earn yourself a souvenir hand-blown shot glass at the Derby Café  when you order the “Donerail,” a drink honoring the 1913 Derby winner who was the longest shot in the race’s history with odds at 91-1.
As our native drink flows far and wide, those of us at home in Kentucky will continue to welcome bourbon fans to its birthplace. Louisville, the “Gateway to Bourbon Country,” is often the first stop on the journey of bourbon explorers, and with the expansion of the Urban Bourbon Trail, the Commonwealth could not hope to provide a finer greeting.
For more information about the Urban Bourbon Trail and Louisville tourism, visit www.BourbonCountry.com .
Photo courtsey of InnerSpirit.