I was pouring out a shot of Town Branch to some sundressed ladies from Michigan, when I glanced over to see a member of the Alabama Shakes serving a Bluegrass Sundown to someone in flip flops and a tank top. It was no dream, as strange as it sounds. It was actually an hour long celebrity bartending session carried out by members of the Shakes, a top-billed band from Athens, Alabama, and was just one of many hours of scheduled magic that occurred in the Bourbon Lodge at the Forecastle Music Festival in Louisville, KY this past weekend.
Despite the bustling, many-splendored festival flotilla that Forecastle has become, the Bourbon Lodge is now the anchor that keeps it undeniably Kentuckian. It was obvious by Saturday evening that the Lodge held the festival’s gravity, as the line to enter tethered to the tent and stretched out into the night. What those queued revelers were hoping to witness was a place of magic: a ring of distillery representatives pouring out the nation’s native spirit into silvery cups, while they interacted with hundreds of curious listeners, who sipped and nodded their heads. A small stage was set up for guest speakers next to our booth, including master distillers and distillery managers (our own Chris Lady had a prime time spot on Saturday evening). Scantily clad vixens danced a late night live burlesque show to keep it hot. Large industrial air conditioners kept it cool.
It will be an honor to see how the Forecastle Bourbon Lodge tops itself yet again during its third year in 2014. It was immediately deemed “bourbon’s most important festival,” by writer Fred Minnick this week. Think about it: more important than the Kentucky Bourbon Festival. Wow. Pat yourself on the back JK McKnight, Ashley Capps, the City of Louisville, and the Kentucky Distiller’s Association. You just struck gold.