How to Throw the Ultimate Bachelor Weekend in Bardstown, Kentucky
Story by G. Clay Whittaker
Grooms-to-Be and Best Men take note: Bourbon is a staple of the modern day bachelor party. And Bardstown, Kentucky is the epicenter of the Bourbon world.
These days, your friends want more out of their bachelor parties than the cliché of a debaucherous, wallet-busting weekend that ends with a week-long hangover. And who can blame them? It’s next to impossible to bond with your crew if you’re trying to do it in between flashing lights and clanging speakers.
Today, even the most adventurous travelers will tell you, the best bachelor parties no longer happen in Las Vegas. So next time you have to plan a trip to celebrate the end of your best friend’s singledom, consider a Bourbon-fueled, bromance-friendly destination like Bardstown.
Bardstown is one of the most beautiful small towns in the country, sure. But more importantly, it’s the Bourbon Capital of the World®, meaning it’s home to some of the best Bourbon and rye distilleries on the planet. And as if that weren’t enough, its bars are saturated with rare bottles and once-in-a-lifetime drams; it hides world class chefs who are making some of the best food in the South; and its packed with a wide range of activities you can’t find anywhere else. With all this and more, this little Bluegrass gem is actually one of our favorite off-the-radar tourism spots in the country.
And yes, it’s a great place to gather with the people you care about and enjoy those late night chats, bonding moments, and authentic, glitz-free experiences.
That said, Bardstown may not have been on your radar before now. Which is exactly why we spent a week pounding pavement (and gravel and sidewalk and fairways), making a list of some of the best ways to fill that precious vacation time. Follow the guide below, and we guarantee that your best buddy will have the bachelor party of a lifetime.
Day One (Arrival)
It’s likely that most of your crew will arrive on a Friday afternoon, so use this time to check into your accommodations, eat dinner, and get to know a bar or two before bed.
Choosing where to stay in Bardstown is really a question of how you want to spend your evenings. If you’re looking for a space that has all the comforts of home, an AirBnB is probably best. (HINT: You might even save some cash for drinking the top shelf stuff if you’re willing to cook here).
Our favorite is easily The Bourbon Barrel Loft, a two-bedroom space that sleeps six people and sits right over the Main Street area. Sleep where barrels were once stored and enjoy a beautifully rennovated kitchen, convenient parking, and being just steps from many of our favorite places in town.
If you’re more interested in a hotel experience or a bit of extra privacy, consider the Bourbon Manor, a beautifully kept historic home with gorgeous interiors and rooms named after classic Kentucky cocktails (HINT: You’ll want to call dibs on the Mint Julep Room). This place also has an on-premise bar called the Bunghole with a great selection of whiskey and cocktails.
Classic Ky decor at Bourbon Manor
There’s also The Talbott Inn to consider, which sits just across the street from its rather famous sister property, The Old Talbott Tavern. The Old Talbott Tavern is an awesome local pub known for having over 200 bottles of whiskey on the menu and for serving some of history’s most renowned figures including Daniel Boone, Abraham Lincoln, and the notorious outlaw Jesse James. For your Day One dinner spot, this place is ideal.
Once you know where you’ll be setting up camp and you’ve had a chance to eat, be sure to swing by The Rickhouse Restaurant & Lounge and enjoy your first celebratory Bourbon of the weekend…or second, or third, or fourth…depending on your schedule.
Day Two (The Marathon)
By this point in the trip, you’ll likely have two distinct groups established—one that seems unaffected by a long night, and another that’s a little more sensitive to late hours. In cases like these, we’d offer two ways to tackle the morning ahead.
The pastry case at Hadorn’s is hangover paradisde.
For the early risers, start with a trip to Hadorn’s Bakery. We can’t say with absolute certainty that they make the best donuts we’ve ever tasted, but you’d do well to order twice as many as you expect you’ll want to eat, and thank us later.
Then head on over to Bardstown Country Club to get 18 holes in. This club has a lovely, winding course with a lot of diverse holes and, unfortunately, plenty of places for your friends to lose their balls. Just remember it’s supposed to be a party and try not to worry too much about the score.
For the not-so-morning-people, take the edge off with breakfast at Bullitt’s Winery and Bistro This place has a concord grape sangria that’s surprisingly easy to sip, especially alongside one of their famous pizzas. And by the time you finish, the golfers should be past the turn. Once everyone has reconvened, take a stroll across town to the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History. This whiskey museum offers a quiet, self-guided stroll through the history of bottles, bootleggers, and booze. It opens around 10 a.m. each day, and you can do the whole thing in as little as 20 minutes.
Next up, it’s distillery time. Jump in the car and head to Maker’s Mark Distillery, where everyone can get their Instagram time in for the day. Dip your own bottle in the famous red wax at the gift shop, and pick up a bottle of Bill Samuels’ Private Select. Take the distillery tour and enjoy a spectacular seasonal meal at Star Hill Provisions, their on-site restaurant (HINT: If you’re there during warm weather, be sure to ask for the Bourbon slushie of the day).
As an alternate option, or if you’ve already been to Maker’s Mark Distillery, consider using your Saturday afternoon to grill out at My Old Kentucky Home’s campgrounds. You’ll need to grab some charcoal and other supplies, but it’s well worth the effort—especially if you pick something up from Boone’s Butcher Shop. Grab some ribeyes, or your own blend of ground meats for burgers, and setup for a couple hours of meat, smoke, and nature.
As the afternoon sets in, you’ll have to decide what to do with the rest of your day. And if you only have time for one more activity, our pick is undoubtedly a distillery tour at Barton 1792. Barton gets our vote alongside Maker’s Mark for a couple of reasons. First, it’s not open on Sundays, so if you’re fitting this in during a regular weekend, Saturday will be your best time to see it. Second, Barton 1792 is the only free bourbon tour in Bardstown (or most anywhere else in the world for that matter). And third, it’s a distillery full of history—from distilling for the government during World War II, to making bourbon for bootleg—err—Chicago businessmen. This stunning distillery has a little something for everyone.
If your crew is super efficient and you have time to check out another distillery, we suggest Heaven Hill Distillery & Bourbon Heritage Center. Heaven Hill distills the likes of Evan Williams, Elijah Craig, the Parker’s Heritage Collection, and offers a wide variety of tour experiences to choose from.
After tastings, tours, 18 holes of golf, and eating heartily, we sincerely recommend that you make your way back to your accommodations for some down time. Do whatever you need to do to re-energize because if you go with our next dinner recommendation, you’ll want to have your wits about you.
Harrison Smith House
If your best bud is a foodie, do everything you can to book a meal at Harrison-Smith House. Be warned though, Harrison-Smith House is not typically open to the public. Contact them early to schedule a private dinner for your group, and let Chef Newman Miller blow your mind with world class food (HINT: You’ll be handsomly rewarded for letting him make bold ingedient choices).
Assuming you have any room left over (which might be a challenge), you’re going to want to have a nightcap at the Kentucky Bourbon Marketplace, right down the street. The bourbon list is substantial, the cocktails are inventive, and they frequently have a few rare bottles for sipping on something that’s hard to find.
Day Three (Departure Day)
Day Three is going to be a rough one, if only because your time in Bardstown is coming to an end. Rather than trying to cram a ton of activities into a half day, take this time to enjoy the last few hours with your crew and admire the town around you.
For breakfast, hit up Pat’s Place if you have time for a country-cooked meal. They’re known for their killer breakfast food, simplicity, and great service.
If you’re trying to visit one more distillery before you hit the road, we suggest you make Willet Distillery your last stop. There, the picturesque Kentucky countryside will be perfect for a final group photo and you’ll taste both historic and experimental Bourbons straight from the source.
Additionally, anyone who still has space in their luggage will want to roll the dice with whatever Bourbon Willett has on sale that day. Worst case scenario, you’ll get a tasty bottle of 3-year-old rye, but you might strike gold and catch an ultra-rare bottle with 25-years under its belt. Bite the bullet and pony up whatever they’re charging, because just like the weekend you’ll be leaving behind, a rare Willett Bourbon is an experience to remember.