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Kentucky Bourbon Trail: How to Slurp Your Way Through the Ohio River Valley

Then, settle down for an authentic Kentucky Fried Chicken dinner at Purple Poulet, which opened in a historic restaurant. The menu features classic Southern dishes like Charleston shrimp and grits and New Orleans turtle soup.

Inside The Baker’s Table, a fixed price experience in Newport

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Hand-stuffed raviolo made with locally sourced ingredients at The Baker’s Table

Michael title

Table of Contents

day 3

Cross the river to learn about Newport’s whiskey-soaked Prohibition days on the Newport Gangster Tour. The city attracted smugglers and casino operators, with Frank Sinatra, Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin performing here during the area’s heyday. The debauchery ended in 1961, but memories are everywhere.

New Riff Distilling just outside of downtown Newport is known for its rye whiskeys that contain traditional grains. Opened in 2014, the giant still can be seen entering the distillery, which offers tours and tastings of their bottled products.

In the small town of Ludlow, a 10-minute drive west of Newport, is Second Sight Spirits, a sideshow-style distillery with a still resembling a fortune teller. The owners worked together behind the scenes at the Las Vegas shows and now craft Kentucky bourbon and rum aged in bourbon casks with cherry and hazelnut infusions.

Return to Newport for dinner at The Baker’s Table, a prix fixe dining experience that focuses on local ingredients (reservations recommended). Or grab a pizza from Baker’s Table Bakery, the casual sister cafe.

The Old Pogue Distillery in Maysville opened in 1876

Association of Distillers of Kentucky

Five Fathers, a pure rye malt whisky, at The Old Pogue Distillery

Association of Distillers of Kentucky

day 4

Drive an hour east to Maysville, located near the state’s premier distilleries. The Old Pogue Distillery opened in 1876 and received the third distilling license in Kentucky, continuing its legacy to this day. For a time it was owned by George Remus, a notorious smuggler, but sixth-generation Pogues now distill the little bourbon here. Guided tours are possible by appointment.

Then learn about the history of the Ohio River Valley at the Kentucky Gateway Museum Center in downtown Maysville, which includes a visitor center with rare bottles of Old Pogue. Another highlight is Kenton Stories with Spirit, a bookstore with plush leather couches and a selection of sandwiches and bourbon. Nosh on a cheese board from Kentucky’s own Cloverdale Creamery while sipping on an Old Fashioned.

On the way back to Covington, make a detour to Augusta, home of classical singer and film actress Rosemary Clooney (and where her nephew George – yes, that George – attended high school). B-Bird Distillery opened in 2018 on the site of a former distillery founded in 1797 by a Revolutionary War veteran. It uses original recipes and includes a winery with the oldest wine cellar in America. Taste the Whiskey Rebellion, named for a dramatic period in American history when distilleries were taxed to pay for the new government.

Your last meal on the trip should be at The Beehive, a legendary tavern that opened in 1796. Located right by the ferry that brings cars across the river, it serves dishes like bourbon-glazed salmon and bourbon cocktails—the perfect way to end a boozy visit to Bourbon country.

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