Bourbon AND Bourbon Bar Review: Bourbon House and Pinhook Bourbon

When you are Bourbon Bill, and in New Orleans, you end up in a bourbon bar on Bourbon Street (Note: I did not go at night time!).

If you have been reading my blog you know that some historians give New Orleans credit for coining the term “bourbon.” When they would ship their whiskey down the Ohio River from Kentucky, specifically much of it from Bourbon County, the barrels were marked bourbon. New Orleans residents starting asking for that “bourbon” whiskey. They liked it better than other whiskey they were importing.

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Wee walked from our hotel in the French Quarter to 144 Bourbon Street and Dickie Brennan’s Bourbon House. The food looks outstanding and it has gotten great reviews. But we didn’t go there to eat.

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We went there for the incredible bourbon selection. As you can see by the picture of the list on the wall, it is quite extensive.

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Lynn immediately ordered a Manhattan. Her Manhattan made with Blanton’s was excellent. I tried a sip but I had to spend some time looking at the list. I looked and looked for something I had not tired. Then I spotted 2 bottles on one of the back bar shelves. They had racehorses with jockeys on them on the labels. I had to find out what bourbon was in those bottles. It turned out to be Pinhook Bourbon.

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First think to note about Pinhook Bourbon is the name. A “Pinhooker” is an individual who buys a young racehorse with the express purpose of reselling the horse for profit. They do this through some training, fixing some flaw to enhance its value. The term is also used for speculators in tobacco, produce, or today even yard sales. Derived from the Spanish verb “pintar,” to paint or ripen.

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Now back to the bourbon. Pinhook is crafted from a mash of 75% corn, 20% rye and 5% malted barley. It has been aged at least 6 years in American oak and bottled at 90 proof. The 20% rye helps make it very smooth. It has hints of vanilla, salted caramel, and finishes with the warm taste of toasted nuts. If you can find it, buy a bottle. They only produce about 5,000 bottles each year. The bottles labels showcase a horse owned with by Bourbon Lane Stable LLC.

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Having enjoyed sitting at the bar at Bourbon House and talking with other bourbon lovers was a kick. What a great atmosphere, wonderful selection, and, as I said before the food looks amazing. Plan to spend more time than we did and enjoy a Pinhook bourbon with some of their authentic southern seafood.

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Bar Review: The Post at Lamar Park (Corpus Christi, Texas)

While visiting our son, Burch, and his wife, Sara, in Corpus Christi a few weeks ago, they took us to a great spot called “The Post.” It’s a fun bar and restaurant in what was a United States Post Office in Corpus. AND, they have an excellent whiskey selection!

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Lynn had a Manhattan, and I had an Old Fashioned. Burch had a Texas Mule. All were excellent and you have quite a selection of Bourbon and Rye to select from for your drink.

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They have a fun “Classic Cocktails” section on the menu which includes the drinks we had plus a Mint Julep, Sazarac, Boulevardier, and more. If you don’t want whiskey (but who doesn’t!?), they have a good selection of beer and wine.

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After we ordered the drinks we went right into the Nosh, Graze, and Grub sections of the menu. Wow, what a fantastic selection. We were all hungry and ready to graze. We love to eat appetizers and small plates. We ordered the crispy brussels sprouts with house-cured bacon. What a great way to start, they were really good and everything is better with BACON. Next we had the “3 Little Piggies.” The 3 little piggies is just that, three 12 hour smoked pork shanks, with a sweet bourbon glaze. They are good sized pork shanks but 3 disappeared very quickly. I could go back and order 2 orders of those just for me. I am getting hungry just writing about them! The “Street Tacos” were next and equally good, I just love tacos from anywhere. We also had “The Hot Mess”– American aged cheddar, aged gouda and goat cheese, served on house made bread, grilled to perfection and served with a tomato basil dipping sauce. We added the Dr Pepper glazed ham to it. WOW, I better hop a plane and get back there. I am not done yet. We ended our meal with the “Beef Tenderloin Sandwich” with parmesan fries.

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But, if you know me, dinner is never the end of the meal — we had to have dessert. Dessert was a fantastic “Whiskey Cake” and 4 spoons. It was demolished in a very short order.

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If you ever find yourself in Corpus or North Padre Island, go to the National Sea Shore National Park, and eat at The Post at Lamar Park. What a great experience, classic drinks and whiskey, excellent food, and a fun atmosphere to enjoy friends or watch your favorite game. I have to use a post office cliché, “Don’t mail it in,” go and experience The Post in person.

Bar Review: King Street Oyster Bar (Leesburg, Virginia)

Serendipity is sometimes the best part of a trip.  We have gone on vacations without hotel reservations or knowing where our travels might lead us.  On our recent  trip to Virginia we landed at Dulles and before heading to our hotel wanted to explore the area a little bit. We landed in Leesburg.

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In Leesburg we did a little shopping before dinner and saw a cute place called King Street Oyster Bar.  It’s a small restaurant and bar set up in an old storefront right downtown, and, it turns out, had only been open a couple of months.  Lynn likes to get good shellfish when she is on the east coast and this looked like a fun place to start.  Me, well, I was looking for a bourbon drink!

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We sat right in the front window and decided to drink and graze.  They have a fun menu with a good selection for anyone.  We started with a “New York Sour.”  It was made with the bourbon of your choice,  lemon juice, simple syrup, and topped with red wine.  It was really good and very different.  They have a good bourbon and whiskey selection and a very friendly staff to help with you with your choice.  And great happy hour prices on drinks and oysters.

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Speaking of selection, the apps and food options were terrific.  We started with the “Bleu Cheese Chips” which are potato chips (looked home made?) topped with basil aioli, marinated tomatoes, and warm bleu cheese.  You can see by the picture it’s a meal itself.

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For dinner, Lynn then had 2 varieties of raw oysters followed by “King Street Oysters” – which were grilled oysters with blue crab, Tasso ham, and roasted corn.  I am so sorry I didn’t get a picture, they tasted and looked amazing.  I also had fish and chips, which were very good.


If you are looking for a little history, some fun shopping, and a taste of Virginia near Dulles Airport, try King Street Oyster House.  The patrons and staff were all very friendly.  We were so glad we stopped in and I am sure you will be pleased as well.

Bar Review: The Whiskey House (San Diego)

Last weekend, we drove down to San Diego for a Padres game with our good friends Ray and Jeannine, who own Highland Valley Vineyards (they make some incredible red wines at HVV, and well worth a Sunday afternoon to visit their vineyard). They promised that after the game we would stop in the Whiskey House in San Diego. I knew it was going to be a killer experience when I looked in the door and all the walls were covered with lighted shelves and whiskey, after whiskey, after whiskey!

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They had so many whiskeys I was in awe. They claim to have over 1,400 whiskeys, and I am not going to dispute that claim. WOW I was in “Bourbon Heaven.” Lynn, Jeannine, and Ray had ordered craft cocktails and they were all good. Lynn had an Old Fashioned, and Jeannine a Manhattan. I was just memorized by the list; I had to try bourbon that I had not experienced previously.   The list is huge! Many seemed very reasonable but $299 for a pour of Pappy seemed a little steep.

From their website:

The Whiskey House features over 1,400 whiskeys, craft cocktails, 20 international draft beers, an eclectic wine list and a delectable menu of house made fare. We specialize in house made sausages, fresh ground burgers, exotic cheeses, and charcuterie and downtown’s newest breakfast café, just next door… The Lazy Hippo, offering healthy breakfast items and savory favorites, along with fresh squeezed juices and smoothies.

By the time we got there after a long but successful Padres game the clock was about to turn to AM so we did not try any food but it looked really good. This will be a regular stop for me when in San Diego. The atmosphere is very dark, warm, and inviting. There are is kinds of seating from bar stools, tables, to sofas so you can enjoy your favorite spirit in a relaxed environment.

The next day we took in the races at Del Mar and on Saturday we saw California Chrome win the Pacific Classic. What a great weekend of baseball, whiskey, wineries, horses and good friends. When in San Diego you must put this on your to-do list!

Bar Review: Whiskey Cake (again)

If you read my blog regularly you have probably already read about Whiskey Cake in Plano, TX. They have several hundred whiskies behind the bar. I was in Dallas last week (more specifically in Plano) on business. And once again I ended up at Whiskey Cake.

Lucky for me the chalkboard Happy Hour Cocktail Special was an Elijah Craig Old Fashioned for $5.00. I couldn’t resist and I wasn’t disappointed. They do a great job with their cocktails and its fun to just sit at the bar and watch their bartenders craft a lot of drinks. I love watching someone who enjoys their craft and is good at it.

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Well now for something off the menu I had not tried. The “OMG Burger” and it was amazing….! You can tell by the picture it’s a mouthful. The menu says they start with “onions, mushrooms, and goodness on a brisket burger, beer battered onion ring, roasted criminis, muenster, grain mustard, red chili mayo, lettuce, tomato, on put it on a challah bun.”

After the Old Fashioned, OMG Burger, and watching a lot of the Home Run Contest I decided it was time to finish off dinner with a Sazerac for my night cap. I had mine with Sazerac rye whiskey, simple, peychaud’s bitters, angostura bitters, absinthe rinse. A nice drink for $9.00.

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When in the Plano-area it is worth a trying Whiskey Cake. Great menu of appetizers, a lot of good sandwiches, main dishes, and salads.   But the main reason to go if you are a bourbon or rye drinker is their selection that you won’t find in many bars. They have been listed as one of the Top 50 Bourbon Bars in the USA.

They also do special dinners and the most recent was written on the Brown paper roll on the wall. A Whistle Pig pairing dinner. I can’t wait to go back and try something else on the menu!

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Bar Review: Vino Nostra (Fullerton, California)

Wine Bar Review, WINE BAR REVIEW?

I know exactly what you are thinking, this is a BOURBON blog. Well, one has to diversify at times and this is that time. We have friends and relatives who own wineries, wine bars, restaurants, and craft breweries. I have to give some quality time to my friends of the grape and hops.

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On Saturday we stopped by Vino Nostra, a wonderful “Retail, Beer, and Wine Bar” in Fullerton, California. We were there to pick up our June Wine Club bottles. Vino Nostra is the creation of Dena and Kevin David. Dena has been involved in the wine and restaurant business for years and she has put that knowledge and experience to good use.

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On their website they have the following quote:

“Grapes. One of the crops that helped found northern Orange County. Grapes and wine, in part, founded Fullerton, and in that tradition, Vino Nostra was created.”

The Wine Club (which is filling up quickly), is unique in that Dena selects 3 unique wines for you quarterly and as part of the club there is a private reception to pick up your wines where you can taste them while enjoying small bites, cheese, fruit, and this month we enjoyed some delicious tri-tip sliders!

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More importantly it’s a great spot to try a huge selection of unique wines and craft beer. They have small bites available daily. With very friendly owners and staff its always warm and welcoming. Dena has been creative in having Tastings and Tacos on the 1st Tuesday of the month, regular Thirsty Thursdays, and the 2nd Sunday of the month an “Old Fashioned Ice Cream Social” with some cider for the ice cream.  They are also one of the hosts the Fullerton Art Walk.

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Vino Nostra is open Tuesday through Sunday until 10:00 PM, opening times vary by day. It’s a short walk for us, but worth the drive from your home or office. Give it a try and you will discover one of the best spots in Downtown Fullerton!

Bar Review: Thoroughbred Club (Charleston, SC)

I always do my bourbon research before traveling – whether it’s asking friends for recommendations or turning to the internet. Thoroughbred Club in the Belmond Place Hotel was suggested as a top place to visit in Charleston by the Charleston City Paper.

After walking all over Charleston while we were there for Memorial Day Weekend and dodging rain drops with weary feet we stopped for a drink at the Thoroughbred Club.

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Its dark interior with horse racing memorabilia on the walls was just the ticket for me. The atmosphere was warm and inviting.

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Their bourbon list is not as deep as some but the atmosphere more than makes up for it. They have a nice selection of bourbons, whiskey, spirits, beer, and wine. Head bartender Mouzon Taylor has developed a reputation for pairing bourbons with food, and he mixes up some splendid bourbon cocktails.

I had an Old Fashioned. This trip was kind of like our Florida Keys trip a few years ago where every stop included Key Lime Pie. We tried a lot of Old Fashions in Charleston and the one I had at the Thoroughbred Club was very good.

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Lynn had a “Mouzon’s Mash.” It’s a silky blend of bourbon, fresh peaches, mint, lemon, and simple syrup created by Mouzon’s peach-farmer grandfather.

The staff was very friendly and helpful. You also get an amazing complimentary trio of a nut and snack mix. One cup had spicy, one regular, and one sweet. They have a very nice menu to compliment the bar selection. We did not try any food as we still had more ground to cover that afternoon. The reviews I have read are very positive and everything we saw looked good.

The bar was very full and lively, we look forward to returning to eat and try a few more of their cocktails.

By the way, I’ve found some of the best places for bourbon restaurant advice and other travel tips are Garden & Gun, Southern Living, and the New York Times travel section (they have some great 36 hour itineraries). Check them out before your next trip to bourbon country!

Bar Review: Husk (Charleston, SC)

No trip to Charleston is complete with out a meal at Husk. It’s a great restaurant and next door to it they have a cool bar. Both are in historic late 1800’s buildings. Husk is known for their food and bourbon and it’s tough to get a table. Husk has almost any bourbon you would ever want to try, and knowledgeable bartenders to help you make your choice.

Make sure to make reservations WAY in advance of your trip. Our daughter was in Charleston a couple months ago and as she and her husband pulled into town they tried to swing by Husk for a late lunch. The restaurant is so popular, rightfully so, that they were fully booked for lunch. When she mentioned this, Lynn immediately made reservations for our trip to Charleston over Memorial Day Weekend.

Husk describes their restaurant as:

“Centrally located in historic downtown Charleston, Husk, from James Beard Award-winning Chef Sean Brock of McCrady’s and the Neighborhood Dining Group, transforms the essence of Southern food. Led by Brock and Chef de Cuisine Travis Grimes, a Lowcountry native, the kitchen reinterprets the bounty of the surrounding area, exploring an ingredient-driven cuisine that begins in the rediscovery of heirloom products and redefines what it means to cook and eat in Charleston.”

Our meal was delicious! I had the fried chicken and it lived up to the billing. The menu changes daily and I had a tough decision to make between chicken fried steak and the fried chicken. The waiter suggested the fried chicken and that was all I needed to know. Lynn had the shrimp and grits. Both were winners. We finished lunch with the delicious Chocolate Chess Pie. The dessert menu even has recommended bourbon pairing for the dessert.

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My Barrel Aged Manhattan at lunch
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The delicious dessert menu!

After lunch we strolled, did some shopping, toured the historic Joseph Manigault house built in 1803, and the Charleston Museum. The Charleston Museum is recognized as the first museum in America. It was founded in 1773.

When the museum closed at 5:00pm, we found our way back to the Husk Bar which opens at 4:00pm daily.

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It is very cozy with a long bar on the first floor and a nice room on the second floor for groups to sit and enjoy the food and beverage.

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I tried the Jefferson’s Chef’s Collaboration. It is one of the creative offerings from Jefferson’s and was developed with the collaboration between Chef Edward Lee and Trey Zoeller Master Distiller. It has a hint of vanilla, cherry, and a little apple. It was a great pick and went well with the appetizer we had – pimento cheese on toast. I don’t remember all the ingredients but I do remember if was really good and went well with the Jefferson’s which was blended to be enjoyed with spicy foods.

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Lynn had an old fashioned and they used an orange and cherry bitters which gave it a wonderful flavor.

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Yes, we enjoyed Charleston, Husk, and, despite dodging a lot of rain over the weekend, look forward to our next trip there!

Bar Review: Who Goes to Augusta for the Bourbon?

Last weekend, we were in Augusta for the wedding of a good friend’s son. But we couldn’t pass up a great bourbon bar for lunch on the way to the wedding. So, I guess I went to Augusta for the bourbon.

The bar is Finch & Fifth and it’s only minutes from Augusta National. It’s in Surry Center, a nice shopping center with antique stores, clothing, and outdoor shops. Finch & Fifth has been there about 3 years.

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The bourbon selection is superb. They have most anything you want Pappy, Orphan Barrels, older and new bourbons. They have almost anything you might want. On their website they say, “With craft cocktails, artisanal cheeses, and a creative twist on southern classics, Finch & Fifth is your new local hang out.”

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I looked at the list of bourbons and decided on the Hillrock Solterra Aged Bourbon. I had not tried this one previously and they had it on their menu.

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I was very impressed with the bourbon, the setting, and a top-notch BLT sandwich.

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Lynn had an Old Fashioned and the Artisan Grilled Cheese (cablanca goat gouda, tomato, & smoky mayo on ciabatta).

Check out their menu on line – they have very creative drinks and food. We had a fun lunch and enjoyed a lot of attention from the bartender. The crowd was light but I am guessing most of the year it’s tough to get a seat in here with such good food and drinks.

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Next time you go to Augusta stop in or if you need a good diversion stop over, you won’t be disappointed.

Bar Review: FIG (Charleston, SC)

Lynn and I spent Memorial Day Weekend in Charleston, South Carolina and Augusta, Georgia for a wedding in Augusta.  We started in Charleston on Friday night. We got in late and decided to head to FIG and see if we could get seats at the bar. Lucky for us, we put our name on the list and got seated in about 15 minutes.

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FIG is an acronym for “Food Is Good” and as a bourbon blogger I have to say the drink is good too! They have a nice bourbon and whiskey selection with a creative cocktail menu. Lynn had “I’ll be Bach” which is made from Rittenhouse Rye, Dry Curaçao, dueling bitters, and Prosecco.

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I had the “Brooklyn” which is made from 12-year-old Elijah Craig, Dolin Dry, Maraschino cherries, Ramazzoti. Both were very good and very different.

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After enjoying our cocktails we ate some really good food. I had the special pork entree for the evening. It was so tender and so tasty. It was served with Carolina Gold Rice. The rice was good as well. Lynn had 2 appetizers. One was the rock fish which was served raw on Carolina Gold Rice with some wasabi on it. The other the Razor Clams served in a summer tomato sauce. The food was amazing and we topped it off with the Toasted Coconut Panna Cotta with blueberry, lime, & granola.

We love to sit at the bar, we always meet nice people, talk whiskey and food, and learn from the bartenders and staffs. We had a great time and will go back next time we are in Charleston. Tomorrow I’ll be sharing my review of Fifth & Fitch in Augusta.