- 629 Main St., Covington, KY, 41011
- Overall User Rating:
- (4 ratings)
- 4 p.m.-midnight Tuesday-Sunday.
- Official Web Site:
In an episode of “Mad Men,” Don Draper walked into a dinner party and placed his drink order: “Big and brown.” For someone who loves the brown stuff, Draper would’ve felt right at home at MainStrasse’s Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar, where there are 10 shelves and more than 100 bottles of the caramel-colored elixir.
Mixologist wunderkind Molly Wellmann of Japp’s fame recently expanded her empire to the other side of the river with a quaint, speakeasy-esque joint where all kinds of American whiskeys, namely bourbon, are available for sampling.
The mood: Adam and I showed up on a Friday evening around 8 p.m., so the 10-seat bar was practically empty. Patsy Cline and other old country staples played in the background.
The space still smells brand-new and features muted earth tones: beige leather barstools, a beige lounge couch, beige colored walls, a brown ceiling, a copper bartop. We sidled up to the bar and were greeted by bartender extraordinaire Josh, who knew the ins and outs of every single bottle on the shelf. This is the kind of place where you take your time and sip your drinks, not quickly toss one back and head to another bar.
The drinks: Every kind of whiskey is well-represented such as their house bourbon Bulliet, Elijah Craig, Evan Williams, KY Vintage, Mellow Corn (white whiskey), Old Fitzgerald, Woodford Reserve and international liquors like Laphroaig scotch, Canadian Club and some Japanese varieties. They also have other liquors and two beers on tap, but we came here for the brown stuff, not the clear stuff.
Josh recommended an unknown but delightful small batch bourbon called Wathen’s. Adam ordered that with a water back and I picked the drink of the day, a Sazerac, which is one of the oldest cocktails in the U.S. Josh muddled some sugar and Peychaud's Bitters and poured in Bulliet, a rye whiskey, topped it off with a lemon peel and served it in a lowball glass. The ruddy drink was strong but delicious. It’s a good thing I live within walking distance of this place.
To continue our experience, Adam tried Rogue Dead Guy Whiskey on the shelf – yes, the famed brewery also makes whiskey. It was like scotch aged at the sea that was both good and kind of weird. I ordered an Old Old Fashioned, which looked just like iced tea but had a real kick and a cinnamon-y aftertaste.
The prices are reasonable for a cocktail (about $8) and a mini-snifter (depending on the brand), but the rarest and most expensive bourbon was Pappy Van Winkle’s 23 Year Old, which cost $300/bottle and $55/shot. We avoided that.
The food: There’s no food here but since bourbon’s made with corn and barley, doesn’t that kind of count as sustenance?
The verdict: The communal vibe was great. I learned a lot about the brown stuff, and for someone who normally doesn’t like the brown stuff, I think I’ve been converted. See you next Friday, bourbon.