Bourbon lovers know that Bardstown, Kentucky is not only a destination, but a mecca for Bourbon. It’s home, it’s the roots, it’s the soul of Bourbon. A small town with a historic backdrop, not quite like others. Beautiful buildings, gorgeous southern scenery, and history for days. But who are we kidding? We’re here for the Bourbon. We’ve spent a little time gathering a few to-do’s for your next visit to Bardstown. A little Eat, Sleep & Drink list of places we feel exceed expectations and showcase Bourbon Country.
Eat – Harrison Smith House
Chef and Owner, Newman Miller and his wife, Rachel cut ties with Chicago city life in May of 2014. It was time for them to find home. Originally hailing from Washington Co. (KY), Newman and wife decided to move back, in search of the unfamiliar. Luckily the Harrison Smith House, formerly Circa, was available and the husband wife team moved in, literally. They live upstairs and cook downstairs. From Derby weekend 2014 to August 20th, opening day, the couple transformed the space into their vision of comfort and beauty. The house was built around 1780 and is the oldest stone home in Nelson County. An addition was built in 1820, making the space perfect to host and gather for Fine Kentucky Fare. With the help of long time friend and fellow chef, Josh Smouse, at 4pm every day, the restaurant opens with a host of locally purveyed meats, cheeses, vegetables, fruits and of course, Bourbon.
Kentucky has seen a transformation in crops and agriculture since the decline of tobacco industry, making room for small, niche farms. From specialty meats to mushrooms, if it’s grown locally, Miller and Smouse want to plate it. Currently on menu, Kentucky Catfish with black eye pea Hoppin John, a celery seed slaw and house made pickles. Simple, yet elegant, the two take pride in their kitchen and spend the extra time to, butcher their own meat, make their own sauces, their own pickles, their own jams – the small details that set their dishes apart from other restaurants in the area. Newman’s wife, Rachel, no stranger to the kitchen herself, now manages events and social media for Harrison Smith House. She also manages the reservation book, good to know because this gem opens at 4pm daily, right as distillery tours are letting out. Stop in on your way back to Louisville or Lexington, (or opt for a seat on the gorgeous patio) for a bite and house made cocktail. Don’t expect a stuffy old historic house, you are in their home and they want you to enjoy it. SIt back, relax and have a cocktail.
House Favorite Cocktail: Barrel Proof House Old Fashioned, made with Maker’s Mark Private Select
Bonus: Miller is also the Chef at Star Hill Provisions which recently opened at the Maker’s Mark Distillery. Check out what else he’s capable of.