Louisville: Bourbon, Baseball, and Thoroughbreds

Today, I’m gonna share a bit of another small trip Rebecca and I took to Louisville as a little getaway in May of 2019. This was actually our first time being on a trip that would be overnight away from Griffin. Our trip to Cincinnati in August of 2019 was the second (see my post from Tuesday). Needless to say, this was much more difficult than the Cincinnati trip because it was the first time. Cincinnati was a little difficult because we were gone for more than one night. Louisville was the first true test of being away from him. Louisville was a lot like Cincinnati in the sense that it was a big city, but not so big that you couldn’t get where you needed to go in a short amount of time. Before I get started, you should know that Rebecca wanted to plan a trip for us to surprise me (I ended up figuring out the destination when we were about 30 minutes from Louisville), so she chose all our activities for the duration, and she did an amazing job!

First: Bourbon.

Before I get to the Bourbon, I wanted to shout out another restaurant that we went to that was featured on Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives: The Irish Rover (Season 26, Episode 5). As I’ve eluded to before, Triple D is my favorite Food Network show, and it’s now a tradition of ours to look for restaurants in the area that have been on the show. I’ve actually seen somewhat mixed reviews of Irish Rover online, but our experience was great! We ordered the cabbage rolls because they were one of the things Guy ordered when we watched that episode (delish). We also ordered 2 scotch eggs as an appetizer, Rebecca ordered the fish and chips (pretty much her go to if we’re anywhere that has it), and I got the bangers and mash. If you saw the post yesterday, you now know that those two dishes are about the only things we know about European cuisine. It was the first time I’d ever had scotch eggs, so I don’t have much to compare it with, but they were great according to my taste buds! Overall, we were pleased with our experience, and I’d recommend it if you’re in town! Now, on to the bourbon! Our visit to Louisville included a tour at the Evan Williams distillery, which was one of the coolest parts of the trip. There were a few tours offered, so we decided to take the “speakeasy tour,” which included a “secret” passageway into an early 1900s style room, much like actual speakeasies would have looked. The bartender was in character the whole time and told us stories of the people around town that would visit the local watering hole and avoid suspicion from the town police. While in the speakeasy, we tasted several different bourbons (both Rebecca and I couldn’t stand the taste of it, so this was more like a “dip your tongue in to avoid it massacring your taste buds.”) While we didn’t buy any bourbon upon leaving, we went to the shop upstairs and got a couple things to take home, mine being a bottle of bourbon barbecue sauce, and Rebecca’s being a coffee mug with Evan Williams’ colors and logo (actually our most used mug between the two of us now). This tour was awesome if you’re either a fan of bourbon or want to hear about a company that’s been part of the fabric of Louisville since it began!

Next: Baseball.

This next part was OBVIOUSLY going to be my favorite part of the trip, given my background with baseball: The Louisville Slugger Museum. Weirdly, in all my time as a baseball player, I never used Louisville Slugger bats, but this was going to be awesome no matter what. This part of the trip is another essential on anyone’s trip that included Louisville. The company has been around since 1855, is probably the most well known brand surrounding baseball, and the tour was a blast for even non-baseball fans. We were first taken to a video room where we watched a short clip about where the trees are imported from (a piece of property in Pennsylvania), and what happens to them before they’re brought to the factory in Louisville to be made into bats. Next, we’re taken through a room of life-sized statues of all the players that were sponsored by Louisville Slugger throughout the years, with facts about the company being scattered on the walls and on plaques next to the players. Then, we actually went through the factory to see the different stages of bat making (I was nerding out SO hard during this part!). This was amazing to me because I’d never actually seen the process of how a bat is made, and to see if transformed from a tree trunk in Pennsylvania to something big leaguers use every night was fantastic. At the end of the tour, there was a batting cage available for anyone to use (it was only a few extra bucks) that allowed you to use a bat that was previously used by a big leaguer, that way we could feel how heavy these things actually were! This is something I’d LOVE to bring Griffin to visit when he’s of age. I don’t know if he’ll ever love baseball the way I do, but this would be a fun trip nonetheless.

Last: Thoroughbreds.

On the last night of our trip, we went to Churchill Downs to watch a night of horse racing. Oddly enough, there are two huge horse tracks within 40 minutes of Indianapolis, and I’d never been to one in person! I’m not much of a gambler, so it was cool to watch everyone up at the counters placing their bets, and seeing the horses and jockeys getting prepared before the gates opened. I’d love to come back some day for the Kentucky Derby. We were there on a random weekday and it was a blast. I never realized how fast the horses were until we watched them go through the finish line which was about 50 feet to our right. They didn’t look incredibly fast coming out of the gate (all the way on the other side of the track), but my goodness! When they ran right in front of us, I would actually say it was majestic! Seeing such a humongous animal move with that much power and agility was simply incredible. Of all things you must do if you go to Louisville, you MUST visit Churchill Downs and take in this amazing atmosphere.

I’ll end on a funny note (much to the chagrin of Rebecca). Keep in mind that Rebecca planned the trip so I never knew what was next, I just followed suit and had fun. The first day we were there, we had brunch and went to the Evan Williams distillery, then we found a sweet little coffee shop right in the middle of downtown. After that, we went home for a little nap before dinner. We woke up at about 5:30, got ready to go, and headed out for this “experience,” so I knew it was more than just a nice restaurant. We arrived at a cabin that was placed about a half mile off of a country road. When we pulled up, Rebecca said, “I know how much you love cooking, so I got us a ‘Cooking with bourbon class that we help cook and have a meal with two other couples’.” This sounded amazing! We went inside to find a table of 6 people plus the 2 hosts with a nice, hot, home cooked meal sitting in front of them. We sat down, and one of them asked, “So…did ya’ll get lost?” Not having any idea what they were talking about, Rebecca said, “Nope! 7 o’clock, right?” To her shame, and everyone else’s enjoyment, the host politely said, “Actually…..we started at 6 hun!” Once we finally got over our embarrassment, the group felt it was only fair for us to set the table for them since they’d cooked the meal without us (it was all in good fun, lots of laughs!), so we did that, and had wonderful meal with 8 amazing people!