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I had the pleasure of attending the Bourbon Mixer in Louisville on August 15th, and I have to say, the Whisky Chicks and Bourbon Brotherhood know how to throw a fantastic event! Annually, these two groups combine to host a bourbon-fueled shindig benefitting different charities each year. This year, the entire event supported Best Buddies Kentucky, a nonprofit that is “dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.” So, not only did guests get to gussy up and drink fantastic bourbon and cocktails, they could rest assured that it was all in the spirit of philanthropy.

What I loved most about this event was how interactive each part of the experience was. On arrival, guests were given a token in order to vote for their favorite distillery display (of course, I knew mine was slated for Buffalo Trace from the get-go). Inside the doorway was the ever-fabulous Art Eatables with a challenge: guess the bourbon brand in the truffle for a chance to win a gift card. I went into this extremely confident, and boy, was I beaten down! I didn’t get a single truffle right, but that’s ok—that just proves that I don’t drink Maker’s Mark, Evan Williams 1783, or Old Forester Signature on a regular basis.

The Bourbon Mixer Ad Banner The upper level of the beautiful venue was full of distilleries showing off their products, while the lower level featured the silent auction and an open bar (like you couldn’t find enough to drink upstairs!) Later in the evening they unveiled a grits bar, which was my companion’s favorite feature of the event. Nothing like a giant plate of grits to soak up all the bourbon!

I enjoyed the distillery displays most of all, because that was where the alcohol was. A girl has to have her priorities! Other than their main product lines, each distillery offered a craft cocktail or other inventive way of offering their bourbon. For Maker’s Mark, it was bourbon popsicles; for Four Roses and Heaven Hill, it was the Gold Rush Cocktail; and for Buffalo Trace, it was an adult root beer float. I have to be honest in that I drank more cocktails than straight whiskey at the Mixer, which is something I never do—there were just too many tasty cocktail offerings!

As I said before, Buffalo Trace won my token from the start, but not solely on the merit of its adult root beer float (a combination of their Bourbon Cream and root beer). They also brought along my favorite tour guide and the man I secretly hope adopts me, Freddie Johnson. I swear I nearly cried when I saw him from across the room (that was post-Maker’s Mark popsicle and Gold Rush), and immediately ran up to him and gave him a hug. Although I probably made a fool out of myself gushing over him, he is one of the warmest and most inviting people I’ve met in the bourbon world and it was an honor to see him again. If you haven’t, check out his portion of the oral history project and his cameo in the Ken Burns Prohibition documentary.

My apologies for the love letter to Freddie Johnson, now back to the event! The final piece of the evening was the generous silent auction, which was quite impressive. I did not end up purchasing anything, but the offerings were to die for – Moonshine University classes, limo rides, 15-year-old bourbon, and more were available for bidding, all proceeds going to support Best Buddies Kentucky. This event seamlessly tied together the worlds of bourbon appreciation and philanthropy, offering visitors a chance to indulge in both alcohol and charity for an evening. I personally cannot wait to see what the Bourbon Brotherhood and Whisky Chicks offer for the third annual Bourbon Mixer, because the second annual was truly one hell of a good time!