The 2014 HerKentucky Valentine's Day Wish List for the Guy in Your Life

The other day, I ran across the perfect little Valentine's Day present for my beau. I mean, how cute is this Hadley Pottery coaster? It's collectible, it's something we can use year after year...

...And it would totally be a gift from me to me. My fiancé doesn't exactly share my affinity for Louisville's artisanal blue-and-white pottery.  So, I started thinking of gifts that he'd actually like. And thus, the 2014 HerKentucky Valentine's Day Wish List for the Guy in Your Life was born. Here are some presents that are as quirky, fantastic, and uniquely Kentucky as the guy in your life.

Balls of Steel Whiskey Coolers
A few weeks ago, I got an email from the Balls of Steel company. Yes, that's the product's actual name. I mentioned it to my fiancé, and his immediate response was: "We must have some of those. Now." It turns out that Balls of Steel are stainless steel whiskey coolers that allow you to enjoy your beverage at the perfect temperature without diluting it.  Not only do they have a name you can't forget, but they fund a great cause.

15% of the purchase price of every set of Balls of Steel will go to testicular cancer research. What a great idea! The name will certainly catch your guy's attention, the donation is much needed, and the coolers can chill a variety of beverages, from a run-of-the-mill soda to the finest glass of Pappy.

Pappy & Co Flask
Speaking of the finest glass of Pappy, this Smathers & Branson flask will wow any bourbon drinker on your list. It's just gorgeous, and it sends the message that your guy only drinks the best.

Kentucky for Kentucky Ball Cap

Of course, I could just list "Everything in the Kentucky for Kentucky collection" as a must-have, but this vintage-style cap is just so fun!

Maker's Mark Label Upcycled Bow Tie
I saw this bow tie in a gift basket at a silent auction this weekend, and was just smitten. How fun for the Maker's lover or bow tie aficionado in your life! It's by artist Melissa Sinkovic and available via her Etsy store or at Revelry Boutique in Louisville.

J. Peterman 1903 Badger Hair Shaving Brush

A morning shave seems like the most miserable enterprise a man must undertake. Peterman's shaving brush adds elegance to the proceedings.

What are y'all getting your beaux for Valentine's Day?

Happy National Bourbon Day!

Today is officially National Bourbon Day!  Sure, I'll celebrate!

My husband is becoming a bourbon aficionado, so more and more we are choosing our dinner destination based on its food AND bourbon menus.  Trust me, I am not complaining. Recently, while dining at Jonathan's at Gratz Park (Lexington), we sampled the Pappy Van Winkle (23 years old) and Parker's Heritage.  Both were superb and highly recommended. 

Pappy Van Winkle (20 years old), The Village Idiot, Lexington

 Two other bourbons we recently purchased and recommend are Angel's Envy (my personal favorite) and Jefferson's Presidential Select (18 years old):

Angel's Envy

Jefferson's Presidential Select (18 years old)

What's your favorite bourbon?

The Bourbon Lover's Wish List

Every Kentuckian has at least one bourbon lover on her holiday shopping list. 

Now, in theory, shopping for the bourbon lover is easy. You stop by the corner liquor store, and mark one present off the list. But, it doesn't really work that way. You can either pick up a tried-and-true favorite, or risk a flavor profile that doesn't suit the recipient. You sure aren't going to be able to find a bottle of Pappy anywhere. And the bourbon accessories that have sprung up in recent years are a tricky business as well. Bourbon lovers are very precise in their enjoyment of the spirit -- whisky stones and rocks glasses are the impetus for a million debates.  Loving bourbon is a serious business, y'all.
I want that julep cup!

If you're shopping for a bourbon lover this year, why not give the gift of knowledge? The Bourbon Review is a quarterly, Lexington-based magazine that explores all things bourbon. From cocktail reviews to recipes to tasting notes, TBR is a must-have for anyone seeking the full Bourbon Experience. It's one of those magazines like Garden and Gun or Southern Living that I just can't wait to find in my mailbox. It's a fantastic gift for the bourbon lover in your life!

The guys at The Bourbon Review have graciously offered a one-year subscription to The Bourbon Review and a t-shirt from their Bourbon Outfitter merchandise line to one lucky HerKentucky reader. Just enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. The contest runs through midnight on Friday the 14th, and a winner will be announced on Saturday.

Cheers and Good Luck!

Edited: Congratulations to Townsley M., the winner of this giveaway!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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.