HMSHost Opens Bourbon Restaurant in Louisville International Airport
The tasting notes of a fine bourbon can transport one to memorable destinations of days gone by, or to exciting places just recently discovered, much the same way that a an airplane can take one to someplace familiar or to a brand new adventure. The sundry characteristics of this legendary American drink are as dynamic and varied the modern day plane-hopping travel bug, and it is not a stretch to say that bourbon is to Kentucky what an airplane is to travel.
With the recently opened Book & Bourbon—Southern Kitchen in Louisville International Airport, HMSHost has created an environment that blends these worlds and celebrates life’s great journeys. Book and Bourbon is a toast to Kentucky’s deep and rich bourbon heritage, making the airport not just a gateway to this historic region, but also a highly visible platform for showcasing the state’s renowned bourbon distilling heritage and products for visitors from all over the world.
Book & Bourbon was created to celebrate Kentucky and its bourbon and it accomplishes this by offering a list of more than 85 world-class, homegrown bourbons including several rare labels. Aficionados will be thrilled at the ability to order various ages of Pappy Van Winkle, Angel’s Envy Cask Strength, George T. Stagg, Jefferson’s Presidential Select, and many other unique pours.
The beverage menu is made up of a craft cocktail list paying homage to the classics. The Manhattan is made with Woodford Reserve rye, Carpano Antica Formula, Angostura bitters, and housemade brandied cherries. The Mint Julep, worthy of the Kentucky Derby, is mixed using a simple but effectively refreshing mix of Maker’s Mark and mint syrup. Guests who fancy something just a tad sweet will find the Peaches & Beam, made with Jim Beam, peaches, basil, and apple. A selection of craft beer is also available and includes local Kentucky brews such as Lexington Brewing & Distilling Co.’s Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale.
“Book & Bourbon is truly a destination bar for bourbon lovers. The offerings here are right up there with some of the world’s leading bourbon tasting venues and the food is also top-notch,” says HMSHost Vice President of Business Development Michael Price. “The airport may not be the first place people think of when seeking a world-class bourbon tasting experience, but we are proud to say that Book & Bourbon has definitely changed this way of thinking. Louisville, Kentucky is Bourbon Country and it is exciting to have the opportunity to partner with the Louisville International Airport in offering travelers access to such a great selection of world-class Kentucky spirits.”
“Book & Bourbon is one of the many new additions to Louisville International as the terminal undergoes more than $17 million in improvements, which includes the airport’s concessions,” says C.T. “Skip” Miller, executive director of the Louisville Regional Airport Authority. “These improvements aim to give travelers and other airport visitors an authentic feel of our community and state. We want them to know they’re in Louisville, and this restaurant really does that by celebrating the area’s bourbon heritage and offering of local brands.”
“Book & Bourbon has a certain class and charm, two characteristics perfectly aligned with all of the things that make Louisville, Kentucky such a special place. Nothing says Kentucky like great southern cooking and a fine bourbon, but this restaurant delivers even more with a distinctive yet cozy vibe that will speak to travelers from all over the world,” says HMSHost Executive Vice President of Restaurant Development Stephanie Havard. “Given the continuing popularity of whiskey and craft cocktails, we know that Book & Bourbon is right on trend. But even more important, we are very excited and proud to now be part of Kentucky’s bourbon heritage in this important region of the country.”
Naturally, Book & Bourbon is all about tasting great spirits, but it is also focused on educating guests about bourbon, spirits, and the distilling culture. The Book & Bourbon experience has a lot to do with this educational component as well as being embraced by setting and décor. Book & Bourbon’s interior design puts a bourbon tasting spin on a library atmosphere with rich leather seating and 1,700 vintage bound books displayed throughout the restaurant. Imagine a private estate library with an upscale, contemporary speakeasy vibe. The library theme goes a step further, with guests offered vintage style “library cards” that feature cocktail recipes to replicate at home.
The educational part of Book & Bourbon embraces both the new bourbon drinker and the advanced bourbon palette. Guests can learn from highly trained staff about different bourbons—tasting notes, the distilling process, history, and what makes each special, unique, or rare. Staff undergo rigorous training from HMSHost’s expert adult beverage team and from local bourbon partners. Guests can even scan through the menu on iPads, select the bourbons they like, and then email themselves the bourbons they tried or have a specific interest in. In addition to using the iPads, guests can also peruse books about bourbon and Kentucky history found on the coffee tables in the communal areas.
The food offering in Book & Bourbon was developed by HMSHost’s culinary team to pair well with the plethora of available beverages. Book & Bourbon’s tagline is Southern Kitchen and the menu offers upscale comfort dishes that are based on regional influences and big flavor. It’s southern cooking with a modern twist. For breakfast, travelers can enjoy a fried green tomato benedict made with two poached hen eggs, béarnaise, country ham, crispy green tomatoes, and griddle hash.
After the morning rush, servers might suggest appetizers like the short rib hush puppies or the sweet potato bravas made with caramelized local honey, jalapenos, and whipped avocado. Although the restaurant has only been open for a short time, the most beloved sandwich has already proven to be the Buttermilk Fried Chicken Sandwich. It is made with aged white cheddar, chipotle ranch, lettuce, tomato, onion on a brioche bun and served with house made kettle chips and pickles. Big appetites can opt for entrées like the House Steak with fork smash potatoes or a Smoked Half Chicken. And if there’s still room for dessert, there is plenty to delight, such as a slice of warm pecan pie to accompany an agreeable digestif (the menu also has a cognac and liqueurs section).
There is also a small retail area for travelers to pick up items for great favors or gifts such as: bar equipment, a wide variety of shrubs and bitters, or logoed apparel. Book & Bourbon can be found in the airport’s Main Terminal.