Ten Great Things about Basketball in the Commonwealth

There have to be at least one billion articles out there about today's big game.

It's a rivalry, you know. A big one. We're only a few months removed from last spring's big Kentucky-Louisville Final Four game. The 'Cats are defending their title as 2012 National Champs. The highly-ranked Cards have gotten plenty of buzz as title contenders this year.
via The Boston Globe.

And, you know, we all have a side. Most Kentuckians are obsessive fans of one team or the other. (My girl Sarah well knows that her disinterest places her in the minority.) We picked our sides early in life, and we're sticking to them.

This year, I'm just not feeling the hater vibe that's all over the internet. My house will be decked in blue, while more than a few of my friends will be sporting their red. And, that's that.  The Commonwealth has enough great basketball to go around. So, in the spirit of sportsmanship, here's five great things about each basketball program.

Five Great Things About UK Basketball:
1.  Coach Rupp -- The Man in the Brown Suit. His 42 year tenure at Kentucky holds the record for the fifth winningest head coaching stint of all time.
2. Basil Hayden -- Although sadly not the namesake of Beam's small-batch 80 proof, Hayden was the leading scorer in the 1919-20 season, and Head Coach in 1926. He lived to be 103 years old.
3.  Mr. Keightley --  The bench still doesn't look the same without Mr. Wildcat, who held the position of Equipment Manager for 48 years.
4. Sam Bowie -- In 1984, the all-star Wildcat center was drafted ahead of UNC's Michael Jordan.
5. Dan Issel -- He scored 53 points in a single game, wearing quite possibly the world's shortest shorts. It's an amazing accomplishment.

Five Great Things about U of L Basketball:
1. The Yum! Center -- A truly amazing, state-of-the-art arena and a welcome addition to the Louisville skyline.
2. Wes Unseld -- A first round draft pick in 1968, Unseld followed up his pro basketball career with a stint as Head Coach of the Washington Bullets. Perhaps the greatest Card to ever don the Red and Black, Unseld went on to found a private school.
3. Denny Crum -- Coach Crum's name is synonymous with Cardinal Basketball. During his thirty years as U of L's Head Coach, he was named National Coach of the Year three times.
4. Pervis Ellison -- With 2000 career points and 1000 rebounds for the Cards, Ellison was one of the driving forces of 1990s college basketball. An overall number one NBA draft pick, he went on to an 11 year pro career.
5. The 1948 NAIA championship, the 1956 NIT championship, and the 1980 and 1986 NCAA championships. U of L is the only school to hold titles for three different major post-season championships.

Are you wearing Red or Blue today?

Why Not Throw a Bourbon Cocktail Party?

Don and Pete.  Mint Juleps. That is all. via AMC.
It's Friday, and it's Bourbon Heritage Month.  Why not celebrate the gloriously crisp autumn weather with the warm, smooth notes of a bourbon cocktail? This weekend, you should throw a bourbon cocktail party!

Now, here at HerKentucky, we're always looking for a reason to throw a good party. Kentucky's very own whisky is a better reason than most.  In just four simple steps, you can put together a fun and elegant bourbon cocktail party.
Bourbon tasting bar, via Garden & Gun
Step One: Choose Your Bourbon
I'd suggest picking up three whisky labels that fit the distinct mashbill profiles -- one high rye content brand, like Basil Hayden's, one high corn content like Buffalo Trace's Old Charter, and a wheated bourbon like Maker's Mark or Pappy Van WinkleThis article from Bluegrass Threads, and this one from Epicurious, do a great job of describing the different taste profiles.  Pick up one of the small batch labels for true sipping, and remember your beer-loving guests with Bourbon Barrel Ale.

Step 2: Choose Your Blend
Most Kentuckians are pretty easy to please.  We take our bourbon neat, with a splash of water or, heaven forbid, with a little Coca-Cola.  (Bourbon and Coke tastes good, but don't ever admit it!)  It seems that bourbon is nationally trendy again, with all these speakeasies popping up in major cities.  You get things like the Bacon Old Fashioned, from Nashville's Patterson House, or the Kentucky Rose from Atlanta's Southern Art and Bourbon BarIf you want to get that fancy, your guests will love a sip.  This bourbon and ginger sounds interesting. Of course, nothing beats a Maker's Manhattan. Nothing.

Step 3: Choose Your Glass
A variety of lowball glasses, Manhattan glasses and julep cups help you enjoy in style.  I love these stemless martini glasses from Maker's Mark and these Fleur de Lis julep cups from Louisville Stoneware


Step 4: Choose Your Friends
Make a few calls, pour a few drinks, and enjoy.

Cheers, y'all!

This is the first installment in a series of posts called "The Bourbon Files", which will showcase the history, culture, and distinct taste of Kentucky's signature spirit.