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The Bourbon Bar at Kentucky Bourbon Marketplace, Bardstown, Kentucky

Posted on by Eric Burke

Let me tell you. I may have found my new favorite place to grab a drink while attending the Kentucky Bourbon Festival. And I came across it quite by accident. 

As you are aware, I visit the Kentucky Bourbon Festival every year. And every year, one of the many things I like to do is visit the lawn area where the distilleries and local craftspeople sell things to the public. I seldom buy anything, but I always like to look. One of the other things I like to do is wander around downtown and see the window displays that the distilleries put into the shop windows. It reminds me of the things that used to happen in the town I grew up in, back before the future happened and people stopped caring what local businesses looked like.  

So last year, we were walking between the lawn and 3rd street on one of the warmer days of the week. We decided to check out this store called the Kentucky Bourbon Marketplace. Mostly as a way to hop out of the direct sunlight that was threatening to burn our Northern skin to a crisp. We'd been in there before and knew that in addition to the "souvenir" store and liquor store, there was also a bar in the building. Most of the times I had walked past previously, the bar had been packed, but this time for whatever reason it wasn't and we had the opportunity to stop in for a drink. Weirdly, I knew the bartender...or at least I knew who he was and had interacted with him on previous trips to Bardstown. His name is Don. Longtime readers might remember Don as our first tour guide at the Barton 1792 distillery way back on our first BourbonFest trip in 2012. Don was as good a bartender as he was a tour guide and for most of the same reasons. He's just fun to talk to.

Which means we were extremely happy when we stopped in this year and found that he is still working behind the bar at the Kentucky Bourbon Marketplace. And this time around, after talking to Howard (the owner) and realizing he was just as nice and fun to talk to, I decided to take a few photos and let you guys in on the secret of the place too.

You enter the store from Flaget Street. It is very conveniently located one block north and one block west of the roundabout in the center of Bardstown. If you are in Downtown Bardstown you are only a few minute's walk to it, no matter where you start from.

This is a very small place. There are 8-10 seats at the bar and three tables with 3-4 seats each. There is some standing room. I made use of it on Saturday afternoon of my most recent visit. There is also a patio in the warmer months, as weather allows. But one of the things that makes this a good place to visit is the selection. Every pour is $9 aside from the middle section of the shelves. These ranged from $15 up to $90 (as you might guess, the highest proces went for those in the bags on the top shelf...).

Speaking of selection, this was the bar where I had myself my first taste of the Four Roses Al Young 50th Anniversary Small Batch. It was $15 and it was delicious. I wish I had been able to get a bottle, but I'm happy enough to have tried it in a nice place surrounded by good people.

They also have cocktails. My wife was particularly fond of the Bardstown Bubbler, a house cocktail that won the title of "Official Cocktail of the 2016 Kentucky Bourbon Festival." It has Peach Bitters, Campari, Lemon Juice, Simple Syrup, Buffalo Trace and is topped with sweet Champagne and garnished with a mint sprig. I would, however, avoid their take on the Sazerac. It leaves out the Absinthe and lemon peel and is garnished with an orange peel. So basically, it is a Rye Old Fashioned. 

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But that aside, every bartender there was fun and interesting to talk to. The drinks were reasonably priced. The atmosphere was friendly and fun. All in all, it was a nice place to pass the afternoon and grab a drink or three.

The Kentucky Bourbon Marketplace is located at 110 West Flaget Ave in Bardstown, Kentucky. 


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