Worth The Drive: Louisville’s Bourbon Classic

Take a weekend pilgrimage to the center of the bourbon universe.

The Bourbon Classic has been a going concern for only four years now, but has already been named one of the 7 Best Cocktail Festivals Around the Country by Travel + Leisure magazine (it’s in good company on that list with events like The Food & Wine Classic in Aspen and Paris of the Plains).

Bourbon Classic 2015
Bourbon Classic 2015

Victor Sizemore

Enjoy the spirit of the weekend with special food pairings at the Bourbon Classic Cocktail Challenge. Here teams of skilled bartenders, chefs, and distilleries are competing for title of “perfect cocktail” while you savor their creations and discuss with them what makes theirs unique.

And don’t worry, you don’t have to be a bourbon connoisseur to fit in. The Bourbon Classic has plenty of classes to help you brush up on distilling, food pairing, cocktail mixing, and the future of bourbon. No matter what you do, you’ll walk away from this trip with a deeper appreciation for the iconic libation.

Feb 23–27, ticket prices vary, Kentucky Center for Performing Arts, 501 West Main St., Louisville, KY, (502) 584–7777, bourbonclassic.com


Where to Stay
Airbnb is a great if you want to immerse yourself in the feel of a city. They’re often the same price or cheaper than lower tier hotels and don’t feel as sterile . Here are some of our picks for Airbnbs near the Bourbon Classic:

NuLu Pearl

nulu pearl
A stay in this 126-year-old building will transport you back in time. With exposed brick and two working fireplaces, the NuLu Pearl is homey-but-cool, and only a 25 minute walk to the Bourbon Classic. airbnb.com

The NuLu Gem

nulu gem
A quaint little space perfect for two. It’s modern, fresh, and clean and has everything you need for a weekend stay. With bus line close by, you’ll have no problem getting where you need to go. airbnb.com

Classy Urban Condo

urban condo
This building was built in 1900, but the interior is a perfect blend of old and new. The reclaimed hardwood floors, exposed brick (that fireplace!), and great view will make you want to extend your stay. airbnb.com

If you want to go all out, try these four-star hotels. You’re going to the Bourbon Classic after all, so you might as well go big. Whether you want something historic, modern, or somewhere in between, these hotels are classic Louisville.

The Brown Hotel

The Brown Hotel lobby
The Brown Hotel lobby

Photograph courtesy The Brown Hotel

This 92-year-old hotel is a thing of beauty. Stay here and you’ll look the part of a Gilded Age bourbon connoisseur. brownhotel.com

21c Museum Hotel


Photographs courtesy 21c Museum Hotels.

A modern hotel that doubles as a museum. 21c has all the comfort of other luxury hotels, but adds contemporary art into the mix with rotating exhibitions and original art throughout the hotel. 21cmuseumhotels.com

The Seelbach Hilton

Seelbach Staircase
Seelbach Staircase

Courtesy of Seelbach Hilton

Legend has it, this elaborate hotel is where F. Scott Fitzgerald was inspired to write The Great Gatsby (and can’t you just imagine Daisy Buchanan gliding down that staircase?). The rooms are classic and comfortable, and the dining options are highly rated. Stop by the restored early-1900s Old Seelbach Bar before you check out. seelbachhilton.com



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