My favorite part of the Bourbon Classic is the Cocktail & Culinary Challenge. It’s amazing food with creative cocktails and it a blast. Matt, Wes, and I will be there throughout, and at the main event Saturday. If you’re in town, or can be in town, this is a can’t-miss event. And today we learned the pairings for the mixologists and the chefs. The lineup is, as always, mouth watering. Check it out, and get your tickets at

Press Release

Louisville, KY (February 15, 2018) – With all eyes on Kentucky as the up-and-coming culinary destination, Bourbon Classic is pleased to announce the 2018 Cocktail & Culinary Challenge contestants and a partnership with Kentucky Proud. The Bourbon Classic Cocktail & Culinary Challenge presented by Kentucky Proud takes place Friday, March 2, from 7 – 10 p.m., at a new venue for the event: The Foundry at Glassworks.

The event showcases classic and contemporary Bourbon cocktails paired with a chef’s Bourbon-themed culinary complement. Each chef will use Kentucky Proud products as a main ingredient, focusing on foods raised, grown, or processed in Kentucky.

“Kentucky is known around the world for many agricultural products, but perhaps noproduct draws as much global attention as Kentucky bourbon,” said Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles. “Kentucky liquefies between 15 to 20 million bushels of corn each year. In that spirit, Kentucky Proud is honored to be the presenting sponsor for this year’s Bourbon Classic.”

Attendees will have the opportunity to meet the contestants and hear them discuss their creations, chat with distillers and representatives about what makes the brands unique, and enjoy a tasting portion of each cocktail and small plate. A select panel of media personalities and industry experts will evaluate the cocktails and small plates individually and as pairings and select winners for each category.

2018 Cocktail & Culinary Challenge participants:

Barton 1792 Distillery

Greg Galganski and Oliver Miller, Proof on Main

Chef Mike Wajda, Proof on Main

Blade & Bow

Nic Christiansen, Butchertown Grocery

Chef Bobby Benjamin, Butchertown Grocery

Blanton’s Bourbon

Shelby Pipes, Volare Italian Ristorante

Chef Josh Moore, Volare Italian Ristorante

Buffalo Trace

Norma Beekman, Lockbox

Chef Jonathan Searle, Lockbox

Four Roses

Hunter Green, Bistro 1860

Chef Michael Crouch, Bistro 1860

George Remus Bourbon

Austin Garrison, Bouquet Restaurant

Chef Stephen Williams, Bouquet Restaurant

Heaven Hill

Brianna Hlava, Butchertown Social

Chef Loreal Gavin, Food Network Star Contestant – Season 10


Morgan Polson, Down One Bourbon Bar

Chef Ryan Smith, Harvest

Woodford Reserve

Isaac Fox, La Chasse

Chef Andrew Welenken , La Chasse

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About Author

Bill is the Co-Founder, Editor-in Chief, and official Bourbon-o-Phile for, and Founder and Chief Blending Officer for Four Gate Whiskey Company. He is a native of Louisville, KY in the heart of Bourbon Country. He attended the University of Kentucky in the mid to late 1990s. He has also been published on He has conducted various bourbon and whiskey tastings in cities across the country, and consulted for multiple national labels. He is married with two daughters, and lives in east Louisville. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter @BillStraub and email him at

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