Just a fraction of the crowd at Tailspin Ale Fest every year. | Photo courtesy of Tailspin

Louisville restaurant fans owe thanks to Fidel Castro! Seriously. A tip of the prol-cap to the now-dead longtime commandant of Cuba. Were he not a brutally oppressive dictator of the very people he promised to free from the prior dictator’s rule, Louisville would not have Havana Rumba, Mojito Tapas Restaurant, Artesano Vino Tapas y Mas, El Taco Luchador, Mussel & Burger Bar and Red Barn Kitchen. All those concepts were founded and operated by Cuban immigrants who fled the communist country—on rafts and overloaded boats in open seas—for the United States. We’re so glad you’re here, Marcos Lorenzo, Fernando Martinez, Yaniel Martinez, their families and many immigrant employees who saw the promise of a (mostly) free enterprise economy.

I visited Cuba 18 years ago and saw firsthand how Castro’s brand of communism wrecked a once thriving country that still has so much potential. With his passing, I’m hoping those sweet and friendly Cubans I met will move one step closer to the democracy Castro promised, but never delivered.

Chef’s table, 3-course Thursdays at Harvest: Thursday Dec. 1 marks the launch of Three Course Thursdays at Harvest. Chef Patrick Roney’s crew is assembling a three-course, prix fixe meal centered on late-fall veggies and proteins harvested locally. Cost is $30 per person, which is a big bargain.

Street view of Harvest in NuLu.
Street view of Harvest in NuLu.

Just as cool is the Dec. 15 launch of Harvest’s private chef’s table. Right there in its massive kitchen, 10-12 guests can gather around the long, barn wood table to enjoy a meal prepared and served by Roney’s culinary team. All menus will center on products from a single farmer, and all menus will be prix fixe. To make reservations for Thursdays or inquire about the private chef’s table, call 384-9090.

Melting Pot now permanently cold: Insider Louisville reported that the Melting Pot on Hurstbourne Lane is now closed. I had no idea it was still open. I can name only one person who went there. I’m surprised it lasted as long as it did.

Pre-sale of tix for Tailspin Ale Fest 2017 this week: At its inception just a few years ago, Tailspin took off and hasn’t stopped climbing in popularity and attendance. Want to ensure you get tickets for this always-sold-out event? Click here for info on this week’s pre-sale parties, when you can get good discounts on tickets for this annual ale fest. Only 400 tickets sold at these three Dec. 1-3 parties!

Pearl Street Taphouse opening Saturday: Yet another reason to love the coming weekend, and a great reason to check out the new Spaghetti Junction and Lincoln Bridge if you haven’t. Pearl Street Taphouse will open Saturday in Jeffersonville. Check its Facebook page and webpage for exact times and its address. Given the newly opened roadways, it’s about a 15-minute drive from the Highlands.

Mile Wide Beer eyes December opening: According to its Facebook page, the beer is flowing, but final permitting hasn’t been completed at this new brewery in the Phoenix Hill neighborhood. Would be a dandy early Christmas present if the locks came off the taps early next month.

Finally distilling at Castle & Key: In a weekly vlog from master distiller Marianne Barnes, bourbon is running again within the brick walls of Castle & Key, an historic distillery near Frankfort. Watch this short video to see an excited Barnes give the happy update.

Barrel picks to be sold at The Pearl: The Pearl of Germantown is petitioning for a package sales license allowing it to sell bottles of its private barrel picks from area distilleries. This is a big deal, and here’s why: In this day of waiting in line for limited release bourbons—that most never get, or pay too much for on the secondary market—this gives drinkers the chance to buy what are truly one-of-a-kind bourbons chosen by the folks at The Pearl and its sister company, The Silver Dollar. Area retailers such as Old Town Wine & Spirits, Westport Whiskey & Wine, The Party Mart, Prospect Party Center, Liquor Barn and Top Hat  Liquors also do their own private picks, and many of these bourbons are real treasures.

Limited release whiskies are great, but for the price of a private pick and the time you must wait in line to get a bottle (0.0 minutes), it’s a no brainer for me.