Michter’s in Demand, Adding Capacity, But Won’t Release Toasted Barrel Bourbon in 2016

LOUISVILLE, Ky., June 28, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Forced to allocate all its whiskey offerings due to growing demand, Michter’s Distillery will not be releasing its Michter’s US*1 Toasted Barrel Bourbon during 2016. “The incredible popularity of our Toasted Barrel Bourbon release during the past two years made this a very tough decision,” said Michter’s Distillery President Joseph J. Magliocco. “The problem is every drop of our Toasted Barrel Bourbon that we release this year is one less drop of our Michter’s US*1 Bourbon that we have to allocate to our distributors and importers.”

As part of its plan to bring supply into better balance with demand for its ryes, bourbons, and whiskeys, Michter’s has been taking steps that will double its M2 distillery’s capacity.  Located in the Shively section of Louisville, Michter’s M2 Distillery is currently operating at its maximum distillation capacity of 500,000 proof gallons per year. The American distillers’ standard measurement of alcohol production, a proof gallon is one liquid gallon at 100 proof at 60 degrees fahrenheit. When Michter’s M2 Distillery resumes distillation in August after a month shutdown for yearly maintenance, the distillery’s new distillation capacity will be 1,000,000 proof gallons per year.

Michter’s 46 foot high copper column still and copper pot still doubler, built by Vendome Copper & Brass Works in Louisville, KY

Formerly Distillery Manager at Booker Noe Distillery, the largest bourbon distillery in the world at that time, Michter’s Vice President-Production & Distiller Pamela Heilmann stated, “By adding four more 16,000 gallon fermenters with a total capacity of 64,000 gallons and going to a second shift, we can make twice as much of the same great whiskey as we do now. Once again I was given carte blanche to put in the very best equipment.” The new equipment installed for the expansion was custom built for Michter’s by legendary Louisville-based still maker Vendome.

Master Distiller Willie Pratt, nicknamed “Dr. No” for his refusal to approve whiskey releases until he feels they are just right, said, “It’s really great for us to be able to offer more of our whiskeys to people at home and abroad, but Michter’s will never sacrifice quality to do so.”

Michter’s Distillery is located in the Shively section of Louisville, Kentucky, the heart of the American whiskey industry.  It makes highly acclaimed, limited production whiskeys.  Michter’s is renowned for its single barrel rye, small batch bourbon, single barrel bourbon, and small batch American whiskey.  In 2015, Michter’s was named the seventh Heritage Member of the Kentucky Distillers Association, thereby becoming the first distiller in 33 years to achieve that status.  For more information, please go to www.michters.com.

Wednewsday: Hillbilly Tea’s back, 610 in wine mag’s top 100, Gustavo’s in Bristol slot, Joy Luck 2 open

Hillbilly Tea is back, which surprises me and many former employees and suppliers I’ve talked to.

After owner Karter Louis closed two HT operations here, a far-East-flung outlet in China, not delivering on his promise to open another in Portland and a sushi concept planned for a Chestnut St. location that never materialized, I had my doubts we’d ever see another Hillbilly Tea. But as of June 3, it’s back and located this time at 106 W. Main St.

On Sunday the restaurant launches a Sunday Social Series you can learn more about by clicking here.Hillbilly Tea Series

Seriously? Gustavo’s officially in Prospect Kroger center: Just as our sources shared with us back in June, Gustavo’s Mexican Grill will move into the Prospect Kroger shopping center endcap where the Bristol Bar & Grille’s lease was not renewed after 10 years.

From a business perspective, this makes little sense. Though it was by far my least favorite Bristol, it never missed a rent payment, had a good following and likely would have remained a good tenant through another 10-year lease. The Bristol enjoys nearly endless public goodwill by virtue of being so reliable since the first opened in 1977.

Yet according to a Bristol representative, the two companies charged with negotiating leases for the space wouldn’t even return the Bristol’s calls to negotiate new terms. It was later widely reported that a Kroger rep said Bristol’s offer was too low to even discuss terms. Yet that’s dubious when Bristol said its calls were never returned.

Now this isn’t the first time a good tenant didn’t get its lease renewed, but it generally doesn’t happen unless you’ve got such a hot property on the hook that you have to give the old reliable one the heave-ho.

So that hot property is Gustavo’s? An Amerexican concept with units in Crestwood and LaGrange is a great fit for Prospect?

I’m here to tell you that I like the one in Crestwood. Food comes out freaky-fast, it’s tasty and it’s affordable, yet not life changing.

It’s also just like Los Aztecas, the similarly Amerexican restaurant that’s operated for about a decade just two blocks from the Prospect Kroger center.

Heave the Bristol out for a powerhouse chain with bottomless pockets? I’d understand that. But to put a young restaurant company proven only in two bedroom communities of Louisville makes little sense.

Here’s what I say: Someone had a big ax to grind either with the Bristol or HIPP Enterprises, the company that built the Kroger center and sub-leased the space to Bristol. Kicking an old standard to the curb and replacing it with a relatively unknown brand just sounds sketchy—that is unless Gustavo’s will be paying much higher rent than the Bristol. If so, we’ll have to watch and see if it can make the profits necessary to operate there.

Joy Luck opens second restaurant, 1st in East End: If you haven’t been to this amazing Asian fusion restaurant because it’s in the Highlands, now’s your chance to get a seat at the brand new one in Old Brownsboro Crossing (a.k.a. “the Costco neighborhood”).

And kudos to its owners, who have operated this spot for weeks now off the radar, giving staffers a chance to learn without the pressure of a crushing crowd.

Word’s out now, however, since Joy Luck is hosting a grand opening at No. 2 (9850 Von Allmen Court, Suite 101, a few doors down from World of Beer) on July 6, beginning at 5 p.m. During the party select appetizers will be half off. Call 618-1601 for reservations.

610 Magnolia on Wine Enthusiast’s 100 Best Wine Restaurants list: The Courier-Journal reported this week that Ed Lee’s headliner restaurant landed on W.E.’s noteworthy list for the second year in a row. High praise and well deserved.

Still, I wonder how, when there are more than 800,000 restaurants in this country, any team of less than 1,000 researchers can narrow down such a broad number to just 100. That’s a lot of evaluating to be done.

Fact is, at least it’s one from the home team. Congrats, 610!

Rosé Rendezvous on at Bistro Le Relais Sunday. Wine nerds know rosés are fantastic—especially in hot summer months—yet underappreciated. So believe the experts who tell you it’ll be cool to go to Rosé Rendezvous at Bistro Le Relias on July 3 from 2-4 p.m. Westport Whiskey & Wine will bring the vino and pour it outside on the back deck alongside light hors d’oeuvre. Price is $25 per person, and the event is limited to the first 50 reservations.

Bye-bye to Joe’s OK Bayou: According to its Facebook page and absent website, the long-running Plainview location is officially closed. Having one less Louisiana grub option here is a bad thing, but I’ll have to admit I haven’t patronized it in a long time.

TuesNews: Ready for Mod Pizza, Indian Springs Lands Bar-B-Que Joint, An App at Varanese

If you like the relatively new concepts at Blaze Pizza and Pieology, you’re going to love the new spot opening soon in the McMahon Plaza on Breckenridge Lane in Hikes Point. Seattle-based MOD Pizza promises “super-fast” pizza at its first Louisville location — and this weekend “Now Hiring” signs went up at its brick building in the newly remodeled Plaza, where a giant Kroger was the focus of a $21 million renovation.

While McMahon’s remodel has attracted new concepts like MOD, Hikes Point’s culinary choices still look like a small-town strip — fast-food, bank, gas station, fitness center. Repeat. But we’ll take MOD, if it lives up to its billing, over the former CiCi’s Pizza that was located nearby a few years ago.

What happens When A Golf Course Doesn’t Make It: The greens rot, but neighbors get bonus greenspace and developers do what they do. At the old Indian Springs on Westport Road, the former clubhouse is being reborn as a barbecue restaurant, there’s a new hotel at the subdivision opening on Westport Road, an Aldi grocery store has been operating for a while, and a handful of restaurant concepts have started popping up, including a Panda Express.

Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint, which has four locations in Tennessee and one in West Virginia, is taking over the old golf clubhouse, and is now under construction.

That’s App, not Appetizer: Varanese Restaurant has built its own app, for those who want “to make reservations, learn about dinners and special events before anyone else, purchase gift certificates, calculate an appropriate tip, and receive last minute discount offers.” The Frankfort Ave. hotspot has also added Crispy Beef Tenderloin Meatballs to its menu, along with four other items.

Small Plates:  Sunday was the soft opening for the new First Watch restaurant, located in a former bank on Breckenridge Lane. It’s now open for business with a menu slightly different from the one on Hurstbourne. . .It must be true ‘cuz it’s on Facebook — The new Red Barn Kitchen is hiring “highly positive enthusiastic, friendly individuals that don’t mind going home with that distinct BBQ smell.”. . . If you’re considering stopping in Schnitzelburg, consider a meal at Monnik. LEO has a positive review. . . Do you remember the controversy when Metro Government gave the Cordish Cos. a bunch of money to turn a regular bar into a bowling alley, or was it to turn a bowling alley into a bar? Critics at the time said it was a million-dollar giveaway to Cordish for the Sports and Social Club to keep Fourth Street Live going. Well, it appears Cordish has now spent some ($250K) of its own money on “sleek, contemporary finishes, new upgraded furniture and booths and refinished hardwood floors,” according to BizFirst. . . And finally, if you’d walk a mile for a Camel, how far would you go for camel meat? You can find it in Louisville, according to this story in Insider.

 

News Roundup: Red Barn’s July opening, new bar to Clifton, APRON Taste of Indies, Bourbon Mixer early tix

Red Barn Kitchen opening July 18: Or at least that’s the current date set by OLE Restaurant Group (owner of RBK, Artesano, Mercato, El Taco Luchador, Mussel & Burger Bar and Guaca Mole). Even for the super-star Martinez family, opening days can become moving targets. As Fernando Martinez mentioned in my recent podcast with him, in this brutally tough labor market, finding help isn’t easy, and if you can’t hire employees, you can’t train them. If you’re interested in working there, they’re actively seeking help.

Food pics on Red Barn Kitchen’s Facebook page are as enticing as you’d expect from ORG, and RBK chef Reed Johnson has told me he’s long overdue for getting the smoke rolling from the new Southern Pride units installed in the former Joe’s Older Than Dirt restaurant in Lyndon.

Stay tuned for more updates as we know ‘em.

How about a smoked pork chop with pimento grits? You can get this when Red Barn Kitchen opens July 18. | Photo courtesy of Red Barn Kitchen

How about a smoked pork chop with pimento grits? You can get this when Red Barn Kitchen opens July 18. | Photo courtesy of Red Barn Kitchen

Manhattan Project bar under construction in Clifton: Insider Louisville reported that a group of operators behind Baxter’s 942 Bar & Grill are working to open a modestly upscale restaurant and sports bar (meaning not as, well, relaxed as Baxter’s) at 2101 Frankfort Ave., in a 3,300-square-foot building directly behind Nancy’s Bagel Grounds. IL also reports that Kyle Schwan has been tapped to craft its menu. Since moving to Louisville from Colorado two years ago, the peripatetic Schwan has worked at Patrick O’Shea’s, Citizen 7 and Finn’s Southern Kitchen.

APRON annual Taste of Independents set for July 10: Here’s a worthy cause I support and, if you’re a restaurant fan with a heart for those who serve you, you can, too. On Sunday, July 10, APRON will host its annual Taste of Independents at The Olmsted (3701 Frankfort Ave.) from 1-4 p.m. The event raises funds to help local independent restaurant employees who face exceptional financial challenges due to personal crises such as medical emergencies. Trust me, there’s no such thing as too much cash for this need.

The afternoon features nibbles prepared by more than 30 top Louisville chefs, delicious adult beverages, a silent auction and live music by the Robbie Bartlett Duo. Tickets are a bargain at $40 (in advance, $45 at the door). Click here to learn more and get tickets.

Here’s just a partial list of who’ll be feeding you that afternoon:

  • Anoosh Bistro
  • Bistro 1860
  • Boombozz
  • Butchertown Grocery
  • Coal’s Artisan Pizza
  • Equus/Jack’s Lounge
  • Gary’s on Spring
  • Gospel Bird
  • Harvest
  • Joella’s Hot Chicken
  • LouVino
  • Martini Italian Bistro
  • Napa River Grill
  • Science Hill Inn
  • Ward 426

Get early bird pricing by July 1 for Bourbon Mixer: Tickets to the third-annual Bourbon Mixer are now on sale for $100 through July 1. Get them after that and it’ll cost you $125 to go to this great fundraiser put on by the Whisky Chicks and the Bourbon Brotherhood. The event is a fundraiser to benefit the Coalition for the Homeless, and it’s scheduled for August 13, 6 p.m. at The Gillespie (421 W. Market Street). The event will include tastings of unique bourbons, bourbon cocktails and even bourbon-infused treats like popsicles and root beer floats. More info to come as this event draws near.

Café Metro owner, restaurant pioneer, Nancy Shepherd, dead at 69

Louisville dining icon Nancy Shepherd, co-founder of Café Metro and Uptown Café, died June 22, according to an obituary published by Newcomer Funeral Home. The cause of death wasn’t given, but Shepherd had battled mobility issues resulting from a stroke suffered several years ago. She was a resident at Nazareth Home.

Along with husband David Shepherd, she opened Café Metro in 1980 to rave reviews. The restaurant served modern American cuisine with panache and class in what then was a super-contemporary setting. Along with Bristol Bar & Grille, which opened in 1979, Café Metro was a pioneering effort in what became the Bardstown Road restaurant scene.

Shepherd taught humanities and English at Seneca High School, but it was in restaurants where she found a second calling. A larger than life personality, Shepherd was funny, friendly and legendarily irreverent. Dean Corbett, owner of Equus, Jack’s Lounge and Corbett’s, and similarly outspoken, once said to me regarding Shepherd, “You think I’m off-color, hang out with Nancy for a while. … Trust me, she’s an interesting fit at the Nazareth Home. She cracks people up.”

Nancy Shepherd. | Photo courtesy of Newcomer Funeral Home

Nancy Shepherd. | Photo courtesy of Newcomer Funeral Home

The Shepherds also cracked customers’ wallets at Café Metro, a pricey restaurant in a day when meals there and at fine dining competitors like Casa Grisanti, Hasenour’s and Sixth Avenue were special occasion outings. In its heyday, it was worthy of the price.

Following the death of her husband in a 1983 automobile accident, Shepherd opened Uptown Café in 1986, directly across from Café Metro on Duker Ave. at Bardstown Road. It, too, was an instant success and has operated for 30 years. Her daughter, Kelley Ledford, manages the restaurant.

Increasing competition, sagging sales and failing health led Shepherd to close Café Metro in 2009. When word circulated that its impressive 29-year-run was ending, Shepherd remarked wryly to me, “The place is half empty until I tell people I’m going to close it down. … I guess they’re all coming by to see the body. It’s a visitation!”

Corbett called her edgy humor, “lovable,” adding that Shepherd “said things everybody wanted to say, but wouldn’t.”

Her gimlet-eyed wit gave pause to some who didn’t know her, but those who did saw it as evidence of her mental agility and toughness. Single-minded and passionate about her businesses, Shepherd was a woman restaurateur in a market then led mostly by men. Ironically, the two finest women competitors of her day operated spots just down the street from her: Susan Seiller at Jack Fry’s and Kathy Cary at Lilly’s Bistro. (Stephanie Meeks bought Jack Fry’s from Seiller in 2007.)

Corbett said that while Shepherd was fiercely competitive, she patronized multiple Louisville restaurants regularly.

“Nancy made it a point to go to everybody’s places. She was a regular at Jack Fry’s, my places and many more,” he said. “She’d go out and put her money where her mouth is when it came to supporting the community.”

Shepherd’s visitation will be held Tuesday, July 5, at Nazareth Home (2000 Newburg Road) from 3-4:30 p.m., followed by a memorial service. A reception will follow at the Uptown Café at 1624 Bardstown Road.

 

Fernando Martinez Cooks in Cuba; It’s Barbecue on Campus with Chris Williams

Steve and Rick had another festive week of eating and drinking — and talking to interesting people in the dining and drinking industries. First, we discuss our favorite meals, from Rick’s trip to River House and the Levee to Steve’s visit to the fancy Michter’s Garden Party during the Kentucky Bourbon Affair. We also joined forces, sort of, at the Whisky Live party at the Marriott East, sampling a series of delicious brown liquors and chocolate.

Next up, we touched on LEO Weekly’s Summer Dining Guide, and recognized several of the local celebrities and their choices for favorite dishes. Steve discovered that Louisville is not the only spot in the Commonwealth for great food and drinks. On a whirlwind 1,500 mile journey, he visited some great chefs at stops in Paducah, Pikeville and Corbin.

Steve also interviewed Fernando Martinez, owner of restaurants such as Mussel & Burger Bar and Artesano, and learned about an upcoming culinary exchange in Cuba in which he will cook in Havana in the fall. Also on the show, Chris Williams, owner of the new 502 Smokehouse  and Sports Bar on the U of L campus, talks about his twists on barbecue here.

Thanks for downloading the latest podcast from EatDrinkTalk, and subscribe to our show on iTunes.

Chris-Williams-EDT7

Chris Williams

EDT7-Fernando-Martinez-web

Fernando Martinez

 

400 Words: Hard to rattle a veteran restaurateur like Susan Hershberg

400 Words will become a regular feature on EatDrinkTalk. These are pithy snapshots of local food and drink personalities pared down to quick-reading essentials.

At noon last Monday I received this text from Susan Hershberg that read, “Well, Pepe Raventos has cancelled his appearance at the wine dinner tonight…the show will go on without him!!”

Raventos was the special guest for a Raventos i Blanc wine dinner set for six hours later at Hershberg’s Wiltshire On Market restaurant. They’d be pouring the hard to get and hard to make biodynamic wine bearing his name, yet the charismatic Spaniard, the man of the hour, cancelled that morning.

And, well, why not? With a full moon scheduled for that night, the first such on a summer solstice in 50 years, something weird is bound to happen, right?

Curveballs like these are de rigueur in Hershberg’s line of work. Not only can restaurant customers and catering clients be fickle and flighty, the weather doesn’t always cooperate. The last time I experienced a Wiltshire Pantry catering, it was in an open field at Foxhollow Farm, just outside of Prospect. The day had been sunny and forecasters predicted marginal chances for rain. Yet that afternoon, with a table set for 100 people guests nearly ready, a one-cloud storm blew in out of nowhere and drenched the catering site.

I happened to be there to do a story, and I assumed the soaking caused a crisis. Amused by my concern, Hershberg just grinned.

“What are you gonna do? Cry about it?” Hershberg said with a shrug. “This isn’t the first time that’s happened and it probably won’t be the last. Just dry everything off and start over.”

As Hershberg walked away slowly, as if she had all the time in the world, she said over her shoulder, “At least we hadn’t put out any napkins yet. That might have been trouble.”

That’s cool under pressure, calm under fire, and it’s why her Wiltshire Pantry catering business has grown to become a premier Louisville caterer. In addition Wiltshire on Market, the firm also operates Wiltshire at the Speed Art Museum, a café and high-end catering business in what’s arguably the city’s premier venue.

She originally didn’t want the Speed’s business due to the difficult application process. But when the Speed pursued her for the position, she knew she had the leverage to have it constructed the way she wanted.

“We wanted a professional catering kitchen, and that’s what we wound up with,” she said, smiling confidently when I spoke with her about it in the spring. “I’m so glad we’re here, so glad we got this. Sometimes, when I walk through this museum and look around, it’s hard to believe we’re here.”

Step outside Louisville this summer and visit great Ky. restaurants

In a two-week period this month, a client had me drive nearly 1,500 miles around our beautiful Commonwealth to find interesting food and drink stories. To say I was amazed with what I found, ate, drank and learned about the people behind these places is an understatement. And to say that the state’s greatest restaurants are only in Louisville … well that myth was busted.

Since those stories aren’t yet written, you’ll have to wait for the delicious details about those many meals. But what I can do is provide a woefully incomplete list of several I think would make worthy summer road trips.

One caveat: Before you leave to visit any of these, check their operating hours on the web. Lots of them are closed on Sundays and Mondays. Here’s just a short list laid out in no particular order, but grouped by town.

Paducah: Freight House. The chef-owner here is Sara Bradley, a local and also a veteran of two, 1-star Michelin restaurants in Chicago and New York. Her farm to table food is brilliant. No elaboration needed. She’s destined to become one of the state’s top chefs.

Sara Bradley, chef-owner, Freight House. | Photo by Steve Coomes

Sara Bradley, chef-owner, Freight House. | Photo by Steve Coomes

Paducah: Dry Ground Brewing. Fantastic brewery and watering hole created inside an old Coca-Cola plant. Just a beautiful space in which all its brewing equipment is part of the décor.

Paducah: Paducah Beer Werks. Created out of an abandoned Greyhound Bus station, this place is a looker. Not only is the beer great, the food menu is as well. Solid pizza here.

Bardstown: Harrison-Smith House. There’s no excuse not to drive the 35 minutes from Louisville to this outstanding restaurant. Chef and co-owner Newman Miller is from the area, but has spent much of his career in big cities at top flight restaurants. He’s also destined to become one of the state’s best-noted chefs. Don’t believe me? Ask Louisville chefs about him and chef de cuisine Josh Smouse. They’ll tell you their peers are that good.

Corbin: The Wrigley Taproom. Every city and town needs a public house like this, especially one with such a diverse menu. Cattle rancher cum chef and co-owner Kristin Smith pulls on Appalachian food tradition while tapping modern cuisine trends to create her eclectic menu.

Harrodsburg: Olde Bus Station Restaurant. This is a true small-town diner, one with bar stools overlooking hustling cooks working a greasy grill—and oh, the burgers that come off that searing metal! My fave griddled burger this year.

Pikeville: The Blue Raven Restaurant & Pub. Pikeville? Yes, Pikeville, whose downtown is Disney World tidy and beautiful. Oh, and the restaurant? Modern and fun, great food and cocktails, a real surprise in far eastern Kentucky. The website does it no justice.

Pikeville: Bob’s Southern Smokehouse. This is no smokehouse, it’s a restaurant set up in the offices of former law firm. Even the “litigation room” remains as it was when the lawyers left: with a gorgeous super-long conference table, button-tucked chairs and thousands of law books. And the smoked goodies are great, too.

Elizabethtown: 701 Fish House & Oyster Bar. How Louisville let a talent like chef David Scales (formerly of Lilly’s Bistro) slip from its clutches, I don’t know, but his seafood-cooking and sourcing skills are on full display at this spot. Located just two blocks off I-65, too, so it’s super easy to get there. About 45 minutes from Louisville.

Florence: The Colonel’s Creamery. Located in a large pole barn complex behind a Kroger shopping complex, this ice cream stop is easily one of the state’s best. Easily. The scoops I had met their “super-premium” billing.

Covington: Frida. This Latin restaurant has the largest mezcal selection in the greater Cincy area, and the food is equally fab. The beef empanada I had was one of my favorite bites during this crazy rush through the state. It’s like a mini-art gallery inside, plus the restaurant is located on the fantastic Mainstrasse strip in the city. Just park there and start walking. So many good places.

* Trust me, there’s so much more to list here, especially in Lexington, Bowling Green, Red River Gorge and more!

EDT news bites: Whisky Live a success, Pettry’s engaged, Wiltshire dinner pics, new Life Bar

Whisky Live Louisville dubbed ‘Sweet’ success: And why wouldn’t it be when organizers planned to sell 800 tickets but sold an estimated 1,000? The three-hour sip-fest last Saturday was held at the Marriott East, and it was packed, loud and fun. Though I’m not complaining, I do wish there were more non-bourbon whiskeys there to try. Knowing it was going to be an international selection, I forced myself to sip nothing there I’d drunk before—which was tough given the array of well-known major and craft American distillers.

There were a handful of Scotches: not fond of the peatier ones, but I didn’t like bourbon five years ago either, and now it’s my favorite spirit. The Irish whiskeys there were terrific, though a little on the subtle side for my tastes. Even some pricey 25 to 30 year-olds in that category (bottles costing several hundred dollars each), while delicious, didn’t leave me dying for another. Perhaps such delicate, subtle whiskeys are better enjoyed on their own and not as part of a taste-a-thon.

Steve was too busy sipping to get a photo, but Rick captured this image of Mayor Greg Fischer toasting Whisky Live's Dave Sweet

Steve was too busy sipping to get a photo, but Rick captured this image of Mayor Greg Fischer toasting Whisky Live’s Dave Sweet

But cheers to Whisky Live owner Dave Sweet, who took a chance on Louisville with an event whose domestic history includes stops in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco. According to Sweet, Whisky Live will return to Louisville.

“Why no pictures, Steve?” you ask? Honestly, it’s a challenge to hold onto a Glencarin tasting glass, a water glass and shake hands with lots of other guests at the same time. And, well, it’s easy to forget about “working” at such an event.

Wedding bells in order for Annie Pettry: If you don’t know that name, then you should.

Annie Pettry and Nathaniel Snyder. | Photo courtesy of Annie Pettry

Annie Pettry and Nathaniel Snyder. | Photo courtesy of Annie Pettry

Perhaps at least you’ve eaten her food. Annie Pettry is the executive chef and partner at Decca in NuLu, and despite coming to Louisville just four years ago, she’s become one of the town’s most respected chefs—and that’s the word among chefs, not just customers.

According to her Facebook page, she’s now engaged to Nathaniel Snyder, who conveniently, works with her at Decca, where he is general manager. Congrats to them both!

Dandy wine dinner at Wiltshire on Market: You didn’t think we’d go through this news roundup without some food photos, right? Check out these food images from last night’s Raventos i Blanc wine dinner.

If you’ve never been there, I recommend it highly. Open Thursday through Sunday evening only, you get chef Noble Holden’s excellent food, live jazz, a great bar selection, service, etc. It’s an under-heralded spot in NuLu.

Trade journal calls Copper & Kings a “breakout brand”: In the annual “Breakout Brands” issue of Beverage World, Butchertown’s Copper & Kings American Brandy was named one of 10 up-and-coming drinks breaking from the pack. See the issue by clicking here.

According to a news release, Beverage World editor Jeff Cioletti interviewed Copper & Kings owner Joe Heron for the piece, and lauded him for carving out a niche in a “virtually untapped category” and distilling “to the beat of (his) own drummer.”

Happening right here in the middle of Bourbon Country. You gotta love the drinkin’ diversity.

Second Life Bar opens at Rainbow Blossom Gardiner Lane: Ever been to Life Bar? I hadn’t until about four months ago when I got a nutrient-rich smoothie that was outrageously good. Not cheap at $9 mind you, but for a business that dubs itself “Louisville’s premier organic plant based super food and juice bar,” you’d expect no less, right? Seriously, though, it’s good stuff and really good for you.

A second one just opened at 3046 Bardstown Road, a.k.a. Rainbow Blossom’s Gardiner Lane Shopping Center store. Interested, check out the menu by clicking here. Really good stuff, all organic, too.

News bites: Heroin hits restaurants, Mex-ops hit at Louisvillians’ palates, Michter’s meal a hit at Whitehall

Sources in C-J article claim Louisvillians aren’t ready for authentic Mexican food: Check out this article written by Courier-Journal reporter Jere Downs: It basically quotes several restaurateurs saying authentic Mexican food doesn’t sell in Louisville because Louisvillians aren’t ready for it.

One of several questions that came to mind as I read this: Did these owners really blame only customers for not receiving their authentic Mexican food with open mouths? Could they blame themselves for not determining ahead of time whether this market wanted such food? How much market research was done to determine locals really wanted those fantastic, complex and labor-intense authentic molés mentioned in the story?

My guess is they saw the spread of authentic Mexican cuisine elsewhere in the U.S. and assumed it would catch on here also. And you could count me among those who thought it would, too. Yet that didn’t happen at those restaurants.

Yet authentic Yucatan and Mexican cuisine has been served at the Mayan Café for nearly two decades, but its owners weren’t interviewed for the story. Why not?

And what is chef Bruce Ucan doing at Mayan Café that works there but didn’t work elsewhere?

Here’s at least one important answer to that question: The restaurant is small now (40 seats) and it’s likely going to stay a small place for the long term since small is the audience size for that cuisine here.

FWIW, when people ask for my favorite restaurants, the Mayan Café is always on the list, but I suggest it with this caveat: “It’s Mexican like you’ve never seen it.” In other words, don’t expect chips and salsa on the tables or sombreros on the walls.

Someday maybe Louisvillians will catch on to the great food now gone from the menu at El Camino (love that place, too) and Doc’s Cantina (which is finally finding its footing). But in the meantime, I see no reason to blame locals for those restaurants’ struggles to figure out the menu mix. Both places are run by great operators who took a shot but missed the target. Bravo for having the guts to at least try something bold and different.

Heroin O.D. claims life of cook: Facebook friends shared the tragic news this week of the heroin overdose death of Derek Coleman, a young cook in the Louisville restaurant scene. Griffin Paulin, chef and owner of an upcoming noodle restaurant dubbed Mirin, took to his Kitchen Banter blog to express outrage over the loss of Coleman. Another friend of Coleman’s actually threatened to kill anyone he found selling heroin. (Needless to say, we’ll bypass linking to that post.)

What was a “ghetto problem” when I was growing up in the 1970s has become a citywide problem. It’s not surprising to find restaurant workers using heroin given the high rate of drug use in the trade. As Rick Redding mentioned on our podcast this week, the Jeffersontown Police told him heroin use and overdoses have become their top problem. And last week, leaders at Louisville Metro Corrections told the media they cannot detox heroin users fast enough to get them clean and effectively manage the next wave of overdosed inmates.

Tune in next week when Paulin and at least one more guest chef will be on the podcast to discuss this scourge creeping into restaurant kitchens.

UPDATE: Due to a scheduling issue, this interview will be moved to late June.

Phenomenal Whitehall dinner hosted by Michter’s American Whiskeys: So this is Bourbon Affair week, which means spirits writers get invited to events about which distillers hope they write. Some are at actual distilleries, while others are at high-falutin’ spots such as Whitehall on Lexington Road. The 1909 home has been meticulously restored and its grounds are so tidy that I’d eat sunny-side up eggs off the lawn. Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but you get my point: the place is remarkable in every way.

Last night Michter’s hosted a garden party and paired dinner there, and it led me to remark to my wife that the next blog I start is going to be called, “Places Steve Gets Invited to For Unexplained Reasons.” The chance to enjoy such privileges because I write for a living is an amazing treat, and I’m grateful for it.

So here’s what I got to see, sip and eat that you didn’t because you picked a better paying line of work that had you in court or in surgery or staring at a stock ticker yesterday.

Harvest chef Patrick Roney, backed by an amazing crew of talented chefs, served a four-course meal with cocktails created by four of the town’s top bartenders: Eric Wentworth (The Hub), Jeremy Johnson (Meta), Beth Burrows (Down One Bourbon Bar) and Damien Cooke (Proof On Main). I don’t readily recall a meal where the food and drink paired so perfectly. (Heck, as parting gifts, the crowd got a small bound book containing recipes for the night’s cocktails. We’ll see how well I do at home trying to recreate one of them!)

Below are some fabulous photos and descriptions. All I can say in closing is, lucky me, lucky me.