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bourbon country

Calling all Bartenders, Mixologists and Spirits folks!

We are excited to announce our first Bourbon Social Barrel Cup Cocktail competition! If you’re a mixologist, bartender, or spirits industry professional and think you have the best Bourbon cocktail recipe in all the land, then we want YOU to compete for the Bourbon Social Barrel Cup title, plus cash and other prizes!

Click here for the rules, guidelines, and the application

*Big thank you to the National Bartenders Association for sponsoring this competition*


We are looking for the best of the best to show us best Bourbon cocktail during the 2014 Bourbon Social events. All applicants will go through an initial selection process in Frankfort Kentucky on June 4th. (Applicants will not be there in person) Our selection panel will choose the finalists, each of which will be attending and mixing during the 2014 Bourbon Social. We are judging based on taste, presentation, and creativity – and all participants will create their signature cocktail for 5 judges.


1st place – $1,500 cash – the Bourbon Social Barrel Cup title and plaque, and other prizes

2nd place – $500 cash, and other prizes

3rd place – Bourbon Lovers Package and other prizes



(from left to right)

Dale DeGroffMaster Mixologist and ‘King Cocktail’ 

Mark Stoddard42 Below Cocktail World Cup Winner and Mixology Mastermind

Jim MeehanFood & Wine Cocktail writer and James Beard Award Winner

Richard BettsMaster Sommelier and Spirits Producer

(second row)

Chef Hugh AchesonJames Beard Award Winner and Master of Southern Food


With this amazing line up of judges, and what we know will be an amazing line up of participants, this will be a competition you won’t want to miss! You can also check out these judges during the seminar series on Saturday at Fasig-Tipton. We look forward to seeing all the creative cocktails from folks across the country! And we look forward to seeing you all there to watch them compete live!

– The Bourbon Social Cocktail Club



Local Love

We are learning more and more about the city we live in and the amazing people that will go above and beyond to help out! We want to share a little love today for some of those fine folks – and as always, we hope when you’re able you will support our local people, places, and things!



If you haven’t met the guys down at West Sixth Brewing… what the hell is wrong with you? Get up, stop what you’re doing, and go down there (I suggest the Lemongrass Wheat, but that’s just me) and have a beer or two.  They have some seriously awesome things going on there, yes besides the beer, like Smithtown Seafood (Yum) and Foodchain. Plus with several events, activities, and other happenings, you have an excuse to go multiple times a week. Check out their website here, and look for them on Facebook and Twitter.

We are excited to have partnered with West Sixth, for The Bourbon Social main event! They will be serving up a couple tasty options at the event, celebrating true Kentucky craft and culture. If you’re visiting from out of town – no worries. We are setting up a couple Brewery tours and a possible tasting at their place, so that you get a little love before you go home. If you’re from Lexington and you haven’t toured the facility, we suggest you look at their website and plan one ASAP.

(P.S. – If you ever want to talk Bourbon, Beer, Food, or anything in between… there’s a pretty good chance you will find us here. We would love for you to join!)


If you’re in the food service world, then you have probably heard of Papania’s. They are one of the oldest, continuously running, and family owned local businesses, and they supply most of the States fruits and veggies.  Originally located on Broadway (where the Civic Center is now),

they moved to their current location on Zesta in 1968. They’ve been serving Kentucky Proud products for over 100 
years, and clearly have a commitment to the community.We are so excited to have them as a partner for The Bourbon Social, and cannot wait for you to see all we have in store. To give you a hint, Papania’s will be partnering with several local Chefs, Restaurants, and Caterers to create some killer, Kentucky Proud, Southern and Bourbon inspired cuisine . Our mouth is watering just thinking about it!

Next time you go to a restaurant, diner, or food cart – ask where they get their produce – and if it’s not Papania’s and local – suggest they make the switch!

For more information on Papania’s and their story, click here. 


History of Bourbon in Kentucky

It’s a well known fact that Bourbon is delicious, and that Bourbon and Kentucky go together like peanut butter and jelly. While there are a lot of ‘facts’ out there about Bourbon – we wanted to know, what’s the true history of Bourbon in Kentucky?

According to the Kentucky Distillers Association (1) Bourbons rich tradition dates back to the early 1700s. Settlers wanted to transport crops, and it was easier in liquid form. (Also makes for a tasty drink to pass the time, I assume)

Now a common misconception, so often reminded to me by my friends out West, is that Bourbon HAS to be made or produced in Bourbon County in order to (technically) be called Bourbon. Wrong. There is a County in Kentucky, Bourbon County, which transported barrels of Whiskey across the region. Each barrel was stamped ‘Bourbon County’, which lead folks to start calling it ‘Bourbon Whiskey’. It quickly became popular, and soon to just be called Bourbon, and in 1964 was deemed by Congress as America’s Official Native Spirit. As it damn well should be.

According to Wikipedia, which is very reliable, Bourbon isn’t named after Bourbon County, it’s named after Bourbon street in Louisiana… I’m going with the KDA on this one. Wiki also claims that Elijah Craig led the charge in the Bourbon Industry, and is the one who formed the process using the American Oak Charred casks, giving it a distinct taste and color. (2) Now that might be true.

Regardless of which tale is true, Bourbon is a multi-Million dollar industry bringing this tasty beverage to folks across the World. There are certain specifications though, to be deemed a Bourbon. While it doesn’t have to be made in Bourbon County, KY – there are a few things that must be in place in order to claim the Bourbon category.

1. Must be made in the USA ;

2. Made from grain mixture that is at least 51% corn;

3. Aged in new, charred oak barrels;

4. Distilled to no more than 160 proof or 80% alcohol by volume;

5. Entered into the barrel to age at no more than 125 proof;

6. Be bottled at 80 proof or more.


Which ever way you spin it, we’re pretty proud of our Kentucky Bourbon Heritage. And with the impressive stats from the KDA, The Bourbon Trail, and Individual Distilleries – I’d say folks around the world would agree.

The Bourbon Social is excited to become a part of the Bourbon scene, and our goal is to give folks near and far a big dose of the craft and culture of Bourbon, as well as the people, places, and purveyors around us that fit together so nicely. From distillery tours, to tastings, to cocktail competitions, and local Bourbon and Southern inspired cuisine – we hope to provide our guests with an over-the-top, all inclusive view into the great state of Kentucky and all it has to offer.  (And let’s be honest, when you’re drinking that much Bourbon, you need tasty treats to follow. Who doesn’t love anything locally grown and perfectly paired with your cocktail.) {You can thank us later}


-> ->Getting excited about The Bourbon Social? We are too! Don’t miss your opportunity to get Early Bird Single tickets to the VIP & Main event (October 11th at Fasig-Tipton) or Early Bird Package tickets to all six events (October 10-12). Limited quantity, limited time offer. <- <-

{Tickets open March 14th 2014 at 12:00 PM, through our website}



– Cheers,

The Bourbon Social Checkers Team





What IS The Bourbon Social?

You’ve seen an ad, you’ve heard someone mention it, you’ve been hit up on facebook to ‘like’ their page… but what is The Bourbon Social?

In its first year, The Bourbon Social is a three-day celebration, comprised of six events. Spread out across Central Kentucky, we aim to please those deeply rooted in the Bourbon Culture and those just dipping their toes. You can join us for the whole weekend, or create a package of events that most interest you. The tagline is ‘A Celebration of Bourbon and all things Kentucky’, and it’s exactly that.

First and foremost, we want to celebrate the craft and culture of the Bourbon Industry, and the people who make it. Learning from them during the seminars from grains to mixing cocktails, taking private tours to understand how it’s made, and tastings to find a new brand you love – it’s all part of your experience at The Bourbon Social. We can’t wait to release the brands that will be participating, and share with you the very specific list of event details – this paired with Keeneland, Kentucky Football, and Fall in the South – it’s a weekend you just can’t afford to miss!

Kentucky isn’t just about Bourbon – and local folks know this very well. This is a celebration of Kentucky, so we can’t forget the people, producers, and purveyors when celebrating all Kentucky has to offer. We are giving you an inside look (and taste) into super creative and locally driven restaurants, chefs, breweries, vineyards, and so much more! Join us for small plates and hors d’oeuvres, inspired by our Kentucky roots and prepared by our outstanding local Chefs. We are over the moon excited about the line up we have for this years event, and can’t wait to share it with you!! These folks are whipping up some extra special, Kick Ass, Kentucky Proud cuisine – just for you!


What can you expect at the 2014 Bourbon Social?

You should expect to indulge in the following; Bourbon Tastings, Mixologist Contests, Small Plates and Hors d’oeuvres from Local Chefs, Bourbon Seminar Series, Bourbon Bars, Signature Cocktails, Private Distillery Tours, Live Music, Cigar Bars, Small Plates paired with Bourbon by Celebrity Guest Chefs, and so much more! Of course there are other things throughout the day you can partake in, check out our tab at the bottom of the website on ‘things to do’ where you will find all kinds of Bourbon and Kentucky favorites. Still not finding what you are looking for? Give us a call and we can point you in the right direction!



What is the Future of The Bourbon Social?

Well, for that we need your help! What do you want? What do you want to see? We want to know! Our plan is to grow this event over the next two years into a month long celebration, with a huge variety of events, leading up to this end-all-be-all-three-day-bash that is, The Bourbon Social. We have so much ‘on the drawing board’ for year two – but we would love to hear from you. Drop us a line, and let us know what floats your boat!!

We look forward to seeing you this Fall – and again, remember to check back often as we release new details here first!


   The Bourbon Social Drinking Club

From The Beginning

I have been working on The Bourbon Social for quite some time now. People are still learning about it and just hearing about it yes – but it has been in the works for quite some time. It was originally several different concepts, that would be spread out over a year. After several trips out West; for research, adult beverages, and a business meeting or two – I (with help from my family) decided this would become a thing, and it would be pulled together into one event. The next step – what the hell do we call it? And what is the format for the event? I am very blessed to have an amazing family, who also happen to be well connected and deeply rooted in the events, hospitality, and culinary scene in Colorado. We formed an All-Star team of professionals who would serve as an advisory group to my crazy ideas. These people are smart. These people are insanely creative and smart, and they helped me form this awesome, kick-ass, Kentucky inspired, Bourbon infused, one-night soiree – The Bourbon Social. It was going to be awesome.

I came back to Lexington to begin the planning process, and after a little planning and formation, and thinking it was coming together nicely, I took another trip to Colorado. My fabulous advisors had their interest peaked by the updates on development in KY, but you could tell something was missing. So after a long discussion, a lot of brainstorming, and several choice words, we took TBS and flipped it on its head. This baby Bourbon event (HA! originally 1,200 people in one night!) became a three-day, six event celebration and jumped to 2,500+ people. So off I went, back to Kentucky, right back to work on this now massive Bourbon expo. And here we are, Seven and a half months away from the first annual, and we couldn’t be more excited! Our hope in planning this weekend is to entice the Bourbon enthusiast, and the newcomer alike, and to fit within anyone’s budget. This is a ‘Celebration of Kentucky’, so we really wanted to focus on not only Kentucky based Bourbons, but Kentucky people, places, and purveyors. We are giving you a firsthand look (and taste) into the things that make Kentucky great, and the people who make those things. And who doesn’t love supporting these local folks, right?!

Am I bat-shit crazy? The answer is yes. But I like to think I’m crazy with passion. Our plans for this event are to grow it over the next two years into a month long celebration, with one or two smaller events each week, leading up to this end-all-be-all-three-day-blow-out-bash, that is, The Bourbon Social.

We hope you’ll join us on this journey, and help us think BIG! Buckle up… it’s going to be a fun ride!



Kaelyn is the Founder of LexEffect :: Creative Event Management. LexEffect is a full service event management company based in Lexington, KY. They coordinate private events for their clients; large-scale productions for the general public; and events for Non-Profit organizations free of charge.