When asked about the art of pairing bourbon with food, the James Beard finalist for best chef: Southeast, Edward Lee of 610 Magnolia, offers valuable advice. ”If you don’t eat with bourbon, you’re gonna get real drunk.”
This tongue-in-cheek maxim aside, Lee articulates an oft-overlooked truth about the meaning of Southernness, something many bourbon drinkers appreciate. ”Being Southern is not geographical; it’s an emotional connection.”
The same could be said about bourbon. Contrary to popular belief, not all bourbon is made in Kentucky. The Bluegrass State, however, is the predominant source, creating 95% of the beverage. And many would say it’s done best here.
There’s no doubt that no one throws a bourbon party like Kentuckians. Case in point: The Bourbon Classic, a two-day event celebrating all aspects of the libation. Organized by The Bourbon Review and FSA Management Group, the revelry took place from March 22-23, 2013, at the Kentucky Center for the Arts in Louisville near the famed Whiskey Row. In its inaugural year, The Bourbon Classic provided a chance for attendees to sample bourbon in many forms: served neat at tastings, mixed into cocktails, or cooked into savory hors d’oeuvres.
Guests had a chance to sample multiple innovative dishes from some of Kentucky’s finest chefs on the Bourbon Classic’s opening night. Pairing up with master bartenders, chefs participated in a “Cocktail Challenge,” which required each team to provide a coordinating beverage and small plate featuring bourbon. Along with Chef Lee, judges included Joy Perrine, author of The Kentucky Bourbon Cocktail Book, and Noah Rothbaum, editor-in-chief of Liquor.com. A buzzy crowd of serious connoisseurs and curious imbibers mingled over glasses of Seviche chef Anthony Lamas’ Tuna Old-Fashioned and Jonathan’s Chef Jonathan Lundy’s bourbon banana pudding.
Other highlights of the Bourbon Classic included a master distillers roundtable featuring the patriarchs of bourbon, who shared lore and described the craftsmanship of their storied products. Breakout sessions provided a range of ways to experience the brown nectar, from pairing chocolates with bourbon (courtesy of Holly Hill Inn chef Ouita Michel) to concocting a cocktail called the Boulevardier to listening to tales of historical bourbon barons.
After two days of tastings, after-parties, and after-after-parties set at local hotspots, participants walked away well-fortified with mash and a collection of new friends.
If you’re already salivating for next year’s event, we have something to tide you over. Bourbon Classic 2013 Grand Champion Jared Schubert of the Monkey Wrench in Louisville kindly provided his recipe for the “Dust Bowl Smash,” which snagged the award for best Contemporary Cocktail. Schubert’s tipple provides a taste of bourbon in the new era, while maintaining that quintessential Kentucky flavor.
Dust Bowl Smash
2 ounces Four Roses Single Barrel
½ ounce Honey Syrup*
1 dash Bitterman’s Hellfire Shrub
2 dashes Peychauds Bitters
6 large mint leaves
Combine ingredients in a shaker. Shake vigorously, and double strain into a double old-fashioned glass with ice. Garnish with a leaf of mint.
* To make honey syrup, combine two parts honey with one part water. Stir until thoroughly combined.
(Cross-posted from The Local Palate, Photography by Weasie Gaines Photography)
Last night, on Kentucky Educational Television’s “Kentucky Tonight,” Hall of Fame journalist Bill Goodman and his guests discuss the 2014 election. His guests included: Steve Robertson, chair of the Republican Party of Kentucky; Jonathan Miller, former chair of the Kentucky Democratic Party; Ellen Williams, former chair of the Republican Party of Kentucky; and Louisville Metro Councilman David Tandy, former treasurer for the Kentucky Democratic Party.
Watch it here:
With a vote for a hemp amendment to the Farm Bill possible THIS week, I urge you to contact your U.S. Senator NOW. Here’s a link with an easy way to contact them.
Great piece by The Huffington Post’s Ryan Grim which demonstrates the strange bedfellows who are pushing for hemp legalization, and reveals how close we really are.
Kentucky’s two senators, Republicans Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell, have been working to include a provision that would legalize industrial hemp into the farm bill, according to Senate and Kentucky sources, an effort that is likely to result in a floor vote on the issue this week.
Paul and McConnell had hoped to insert the measure into the farm bill as it was being considered by the Agriculture Committee, but a jurisdictional spat broke out, as often does in the Senate. McConnell, a member of the committee, approached Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) last Monday night about inserting the provision, according to Senate aides, and was told that the Judiciary Committee had jurisdiction and he would need a waiver from its chairman, Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.). Hemp laws are the purview of the Drug Enforcement Administration, even though hemp is not a drug and has no psychoactive potential, no matter how much a person smokes.
McConnell faces reelection in 2014, and has been working so closely with Paul that some aides have begun to refer to the libertarian newcomer and tea party favorite as the “shadow minority leader” — a term that presumably expires if McConnell wins his race. McConnell brought Jesse Benton, a longtime aide of Rand Paul and Ron Paul, onto his campaign. With Rand Paul in his corner, there is little chance for a tea party candidate to successfully challenge McConnell, and Paul’s energized base may boost turnout in the general election. If McConnell’s effort on hemp is any guide, he’s taking nothing for granted.
McConnell approached Leahy to ask for the waiver, but was rejected, sources said. McConnell returned to Stabenow and again asked that she insert the provision, and Stabenow said no. She offered, instead, to allow a vote on an amendment, and said that she would introduce it on his behalf. (Minority leaders rarely appear at committee hearings in person.) McConnell declined the offer and by proxy voted against the farm bill in committee. Holly Harris, chief of staff to Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, a strong hemp advocate, said that her office had been told by Senate Republican leadership that Leahy had refused the waiver request, citing Judiciary Committee turf, confirming what several Senate sources told HuffPost.
Click here to read the full article.
This morning’s Newsweek/The Daily Beast features a cover story by The RP on the growing national movement to legalize hemp. Here’s an excerpt:
Poor, poor pitiful hemp.
Its cooler cannabis cousin, marijuana, gets all the buzz — generational bards from Bob Dylan to Snoop Dogg sing Mary Jane’s praise; cancer and AIDS patients declare her glory.
And even though smoking hemp won’t make you feel high — just really stupid for trying (as well as a sharp burning sensation in the lungs) — the Feds still crack down on it because they think it kinda…sorta…looks like the wacky weed that threatens to send our nation back into reefer madness. Just another innocent casualty in the War on Drugs.
In recent weeks, however, it appears that hemp might have the last (sober) laugh. That’s because a bi-partisan, blue-grassroots effort to secure federal legalization of industrial hemp production might not only prove successful; it could also provide a model for solving far more pressing issues within our hyper-partisan, dysfunctional democracy.
To understand why the hemp movement is going mainstream, consider one of its strongest advocates: first-term Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer. The GOP official shocks the hemp stereotype: He’s neither the liberal hipster nor the bow-tied libertarian, each hoping the movement will bring us a step closer to legalized marijuana. Instead, the 40-year-old, rosy-cheeked beef cattle farmer is part and parcel of his rural, small town, socially conservative upbringing, a culture that’s traditionally been most hostile to hemp legalization…mostly because, well, they fear it will bring us a step closer to legalized marijuana.
And Comer, a political comer who’s popular with both the Mitch McConnell GOP establishment and the Rand Paul Tea Party, is passionate about agriculture. Seeing his vocation under siege, particularly upon the decline of tobacco, Comer risked ridicule by campaigning on an issue that many lampooned, and few of his constituents understood. But he stubbornly embarked on a statewide educational campaign with a simple, irrefutable message: Hemp is not marijuana.
Click here to read the full article at Newsweek/The Daily Beast.
Skip to the 12:43 mark to watch the legendary Bill Bryant interview The RP and KY Agriculture Commissioner James Comer about their bi-partisan trip to Washington, DC, to lobby capital lawmakers about industrial hemp legalization:
From Tom Eblen of the Lexington Herald-Leader:
Each time I have visited West Liberty since the devastating tornado, people have expressed determination to rebuild. But they didn’t just want to put things back the way they were; they wanted to use the disaster to reposition their community for the future.
The Morgan County seat had been hurting for years before the twister, which killed six people on March 2, 2012. West Liberty was like so many other small towns that have struggled to adapt to the loss of cash crops and factories.
Last week, after more than a year of study and work, West Liberty leaders unveiled a new strategic plan for their community. It is a creative, forward-looking plan designed to attract national attention and support. If successful, it could serve as a model for struggling small towns throughout Kentucky and across America.
“I’m very excited about it,” said Hank Allen, CEO of Commercial Bank in West Liberty and president of the Morgan County Chamber of Commerce. “There is such a will to rebuild, to not only get back to where we were but to be better than we were.”
One key aspect of the plan follows the lead of Greensburg, Kansas, which was wiped out by a 2007 tornado and attracted national attention by rebuilding using the latest energy-efficient technology.
West Liberty’s energy-efficient reconstruction plans include replacement houses with “passive” design and construction, which can cut energy costs as much as 70 percent over conventional construction. Habitat for Humanity has already built several such homes in the area.
The downtown business district also would be rebuilt using energy-efficient construction, including a geothermal loop that many buildings could share to lower their heating and cooling costs.
Allen says he thinks that will be one of the biggest factors in recreating a viable downtown. Rent was cheap in the old buildings the tornado blew away. But reconstruction will be expensive, pushing rents beyond what many mom-and-pop businesses can afford.
Commercial Bank is kicking off the geothermal loop as part of its headquarters reconstruction. Allen said designs are almost complete for a new bank building that should be certified LEED Gold. The pre-tornado bank building cost about $4,000 to $5,000 a month to heat and cool, but Allen estimates the new one will cost about $1,500 a month.
The bank building will include about 1,800 square feet of incubator space on its first floor to help small local businesses get back on their feet, Allen said.
The strategic plan also calls for encouraging downtown to be rebuilt with mixed-use structures housing businesses, offices, restaurants and apartments. That would create a more lively downtown with lower rents because of more efficient use of space.
Plans also call for installing free wireless service downtown to attract businesses and people in a region where wi-fi availability is now limited.
The strategic plan’s economic development initiatives have a big focus on eco-tourism, built around Morgan County’s natural beauty and local assets such as the Licking River, Cave Run and Paintsville lakes, and nearby destinations such as the Red River Gorge.
There would be encouragement for entrepreneurs to start businesses focusing on kayaking, rock climbing, hiking, canoeing, fishing and hunting. Plans also call for developing walking and biking trails along the Licking River through West Liberty.
Other economic development ideas in the plan also focus on existing strengths, such as trying to use the local ambulance service and hospital to develop new methods for rural health-care delivery.
The strategic plan grew out of a partnership among the city, Morgan County, local businesses, Morehead State University’s Innovation and Commercialization Center and the nonprofit Regional Technology and Innovation Center.
Midwest Clean Energy Enterprise LLC of Lexington was a consultant on the process. Jonathan Miller, a clean-energy advocate and former state treasurer, has been retained to help raise money nationally for the effort by promoting it as a model for small-town revitalization.
The Morgan County Community Fund, an affiliate of the Blue Grass Community Foundation, has been set up to help collect and distribute donations for the rebuilding effort.
These efforts got a big jump-start in February, when Gov. Steve Beshear and U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers announced a package of about $30 million in federal, state and private money for various rebuilding projects.
“That really opened people’s eyes to what is possible,” Allen said of the financial package. “As a community, we must think really, really large. But we have a long way to go.”
Click here to read the full piece.
I’ve lived a blessed life, and my 11 years in public office in Kentucky were pretty extraordinary.
There was one thing, however, I was never able to add to my bucket list — a positive editorial from any Kentucky newspaper. Not that I received a lot of negative editorials; I was just mostly ignored.
So I’d be lying to say that I wasn’t grateful for the following editorial that appeared over the weekend in Danville’s Advocate-Messenger. I didn’t embark on the hemp legalization initiative to get a bunch of atta-boys, but it is always a great feeling when your hard work is recognized:
EDITORIAL: Bipartisan effort something worth Kentucky pride
- 11:22 a.m. EDT, May 10, 2013
A tip of the cap to our Republican Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and former Democratic State Treasurer Jonathan Miller for their inter-party field trip to Washington, D.C., this week. The duo, joined by Republican State Senator Paul Hornback of Shelbyville, visited Washington to drum up support among lawmakers for lifting federal barriers to legal hemp in Kentucky.
While it is too soon to tell whether the trip will pay dividends, the follow-through from Comer, and the bipartisan joining of forces with Miller, should make the state proud.
Legal hemp doesn’t approach the gravity or complexity of many controversial issues that divide Democrats andRepublicans, but it is refreshing to see leaders in both parties willing to stand together for something. The broad coalition Comer and Miller are helping to build, along with their federal counterparts, has been evident from their dueling, sometimes playful Twitter updates — one includes a photo of Comer flanked by Miller and Democrat U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth in front of Barack Obama’s portrait.
For his part, Miller has continued to put his time and money where his mouth is since swearing off electoral politics several years ago. After his unsuccessful Democratic primary run in the 2007 governor’s race and a stint heading the state Democratic Party, Miller started Recovering Politcian, an online forum devoted to a less shrill conversation about important issues.
As the Recovering Politician website states, Miller remains “a proud progressive Kentucky Democrat, but he’s learned that we must put aside our labels on occasion to work for the common good.” Miller, who spent time in Washington during the Clinton administration, has offered his full complement of Beltway contacts to his Republican partner.
Even without a positive legislative outcome, the gambit looks like another net win for Comer, who was swept into office with a decisive margin two years ago.
Comer’s ability to leverage public opinion and bipartisan support for the hemp bill, which was opposed from the outset by a Democratic governor and leader of the House, was truly impressive. Although Richie Farmer may be one of the easiest acts to follow in recent memory, Comer has done his level best to decontaminate his department and clean up the embarrassing, possibly criminal mess Farmer left behind.
It would be hard to blame Comer for also seizing the chance to rub shoulders with D.C. powerbrokers, or to bask in the reflected importance of our nation’s capital. If his star stays on the same trajectory, he may someday be able to choose between Frankfort and Washington.
Click here to read the full editorial.
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As always, The RP’s KY Political Brief, written and prepared by our wunderkind Managing Editor, Bradford Queen, has aggregated all of the latest news and opinion on Governor Steve Beshear’s decision to sign an Executive Order expanding Kentucky’s Medicaid program to 380,000 more uninsured Kentuckians. Here’s an excerpt:
|NEW PRESCRIPTION – Medicaid health insurance to expand under Obamacare in Kentucky - C-J’s Jessie Halladay - “More than 300,000 uninsured Kentuckians will become eligible for Medicaid after Gov. Steve Beshear announced Thursday that the state will expand the health-insurance program — taking advantage of President Obama’s controversial Affordable Care Act. … He cited research a study conducted by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services that said expanding Medicaid would benefit hundreds of thousands of Kentucky families, improve the state’s failing health, create nearly 17,000 jobs, and have a $15.6 billion positive economic impact on the state between fiscal years 2014 and 2021. … In addition, the study said Kentucky would see a $802.4 million positive impact on the state budget for that period because some expenses would be moved to the federal government. Without expansion, they show that Kentucky would see $38.9 million in additional costs because of changes under the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.”” [C-J]–Fact sheet from Governor’s office: “Expansion Is the Right Decision for Kentuckians’ Health: … Kentucky Ranks at the Bottom in Health Outcomes … 640,000 Uninsured Kentuckians … Expansion Has Huge Positive Economic and Budgetary Impact: Expansion Will Have $15.6 Billion Statewide Economic Impact Between FY14 and FY21, Creating Almost 17,000 New Jobs.” [PDF]
–Democrats, Health Groups Praise Beshear’s Decision to Expand Medicaid [WFPL]
–John David Dyche: “Beshear Wrong to Expand Medicaid” [WDRB]
–Jonathan Miller: “Thank You, Governor Beshear” [The RP]
Today was Steve Beshear’s finest moment.
In signing an executive order to expand the Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act, he saved taxpayers $40 million, created nearly 17,000 new jobs and brought the state a positive economic impact of more than $15 billion.
But more importantly…much more importantly…380,000 Kentuckians who do not currently have health insurance coverage will now qualify for affordable health care. That means that 380,000 Kentuckians will live longer, healthier lives because of the Governor’s signature. It is not even the slightest exaggeration to note that Steve Beshear literally saved thousands of lives today.
Of course, there will be plenty of rejectionists deriding the Governor’s actions as the embrace of the evil “Obamacare.” Bully for them. But any short term political benefits they may accrue will be long forgotten decades from now when Kentucky’s personal and economic health has been boosted immeasurably by Steve Beshear’s action today.
Hubert Humphrey once famous stated that the “moral test of government is how it treats those in the dawn of life, the children; those in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those in the shadows of life, the poor and handicapped.”
Steve Beshear today passed that moral test…with flying colors. This is the essence of moral leadershp.
Thank you, Govermor.
Read the rest of…
Thank You, Governor Beshear