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Welcome to Louisville - KFC and bourbon

Alex Trickett | 14:37 UK time, Wednesday, 17 September 2008

"Why can't they all get to know each other? I will give £5 to each of the winning players, and give a party afterwards, with champagne and chicken sandwiches."

Thus spoke Samuel Ryder whilst watching an unofficial international match between the Americans and British at Wentworth in 1926. And a year later, the first official Ryder Cup match-up took place.

With words like those, it was pretty much destiny that the Ryder Cup would one day find its way to Louisville, Kentucky.

A Ryder Cup sign with team captains Paul Azinger and Nick Faldo hangs on the side of the Kaden Building in Louisville
After all, the "bluegrass state" is famously known as the birthplace of Kentucky Fried Chicken (perhaps not quite what Ryder had in mind for his chicken sandwiches but close enough).

Good old Colonel Sanders opened his first restaurant in the small front room of a gas station in Corbin, Kentucky in 1930, acting as station operator, cook and cashier all at the same time.

By 2006, more than a billion of his "finger lickin' good" chicken dinners were served annually around the world, including not an inconsiderable number at Louisville airport - yep, you guessed it KFC was one of the first things I saw on arrival.

But what else is Kentucky known for?

Quick investigation reveals that this gastronomic hub is also home to the cheeseburger and to bourbon whiskey, the latter a particularly exciting discovery since the 37th Ryder Cup coincides with the 17th annual Kentucky Bourbon Festival.

Whiskey (spelt with an e in these parts) is a serious business here.

Maker's Mark, Jim Beam, Wild Turkey, Knob Creek, Old Ezra Rare Old Sippin' Whiskey (it's even got its own widget!) and pretty much any other bourbon you care to mention that's not Jack Daniels (Tennessee) come from Kentucky.

They even had a "Ryder Cup of whiskey" debate at a local restaurant last week with a specially imported Scotsman singing the praise for Scotch and an American cheerleading for bourbon.

Sadly, I wasn't here for that, but a restaurant insider tells me bourbon won a home decision. Beware the omens Nick Faldo.

Louisville pre-dates its whiskey, however.

kl_getty438.jpg

The city - currently the 29th largest in the States with a population of 558,000 - was named for King Louis XVI.

Acting - it must be said - against the spirit of the European golf pact that was to follow 201 years later, the French king sent supplies and soldiers to the fledgling United States in 1778, helping to secure their independence from Great Britain.

Louis' "ville" (town) has been home to all sorts since then.

From Thomas Edison (inventor) to Tom Cruise (actor) via Zachary Taylor (president) and Hunter S Thompson (author), all have savoured the streets of the USA's official most livable city.

cruise_afp438.jpg

And then, of course, there is Muhammad Ali.

Tomorrow, I'll take a closer look at Louisville sport and in particular at Ali and another famous city slugger, but in the meantime, do share any Kentucky facts or anecdotes that spring to mind.

I'll leave you with this nugget - apparently in Kentucky anyone who has been drinking is "sober" until he/she "cannot hold onto the ground". I'm just off to the bourbon festival then...

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  • 1. At 4:21pm on 17 Sep 2008, The PGA Tourist wrote:

    Apparently the Americans were at the Muhammad Ali museum last night to gain "inspiration" from "the greatest". Faldo's taking his boys to it tonight as well. Is there nothing else to do in this town? I guess they can't be hitting bars and pigging out on fried chicken, so there's probably not.

    One good thing for Faldo, he'll be in the right place should his team fail against the Americans, he can drown his sorrows in their famous bourbon and take comfort with a bargain bucket to soothe his hangover. Can't see it coming to that mind....

    http://pgatourist.blogspot.com/

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  • 2. At 4:28pm on 17 Sep 2008, fitzexpat wrote:



    Kindly ensure that Messrs Harrington (even though he doesn't touch the stuff) and McDowell remind the natives of Kentucky that Ireland (through the generosity of St Columba) kindly donated the recipe for whiskey to the Scots (who could not afford the ink needed to spell Whiskey with an E) and that Bushmills (Black Bush, the world's finest!) is the world's oldest licensed distillery.

    Here's to the lads bringing home Sam Ryder's bacon.

    Slainte!

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  • 3. At 4:29pm on 17 Sep 2008, heavy_d wrote:

    bourbon, KFC and Golf

    Valhalla really is 'heaven'!!!

    ;-)

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  • 4. At 4:42pm on 17 Sep 2008, Alex Trickett - wrote:

    PGA Tourist (comment 1) - you are right, there is a lot of talk about Ali and we probably should remember that this week is about golf and not boxing, but the guy's status here (and around the world) is such that it was kind of inevitable. I'll confess to being a massive fan of the Louisville Lip myself and will be trying to track him down tonight. More on that tomorrow...

    Fitzexpat (comment 2) - noted! It sounds like you should have been at the great whiskey debate representing the third of the whisky/ey super powers. Personally, I'm not fussy - I like it all.

    heavy_d (comment 3) - I know. A bargain bucket will never taste better.

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  • 5. At 5:18pm on 17 Sep 2008, kwiniaskagolfer wrote:

    Hopefully you'll be with 40,000 of your best friends at tonight's Louisville vs Kansas State game.

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  • 6. At 6:23pm on 17 Sep 2008, debatable wrote:

    JD isn't a bourbon though...

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  • 7. At 6:45pm on 17 Sep 2008, Rednyella wrote:

    I am Scottish (born and bred in Glasgow) moved to the USA over 4 years ago to the Cumberland Gap right on the KY border but I now live in Knoxville TN still very close to the KY border and love it!!! The folks are friendly, the weather is great and I HAVE TWO tickets to the Ryder Cup.

    I am doning the Kilto and supporting my Euro lads to victory. Plenty of sugar water will be drunk i'm sure.

    Lousiville is a great place and I have been there many times as my occupation is club and college fitba' coaching. Get down to 4th street in downtown!!!

    Lots of sports bars, clubs and time to party once we start picking up points!!!

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  • 8. At 7:18pm on 17 Sep 2008, Alex Trickett - wrote:

    Rednyella - where are the hotspots? All local expertise very welcome!

    debatable - have just done some more reading on this and I think you are right. It's a bit of minefield but has to do with the barrels the whiskey is stored in. They taste similar to me, but that statement alone is probably punishable in this state!

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  • 9. At 7:38pm on 17 Sep 2008, Alex Trickett - wrote:

    kwiniaskagolfer - I'll certainly tune in if I get the chance - I love college football. But I should point out that I'm a die-hard LSU fan (after a year studying there 14 years back). As of yesterday and following a painful twist of the arm, Rob also bleeds purple and gold and I am busy preparing him for the showdown with Auburn at the weekend. Bring it on!

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  • 10. At 8:09pm on 17 Sep 2008, politeBoobie wrote:

    Come on!!!

    It's Col. SANDERS not "Saunders"!

    Jeez!

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  • 11. At 10:19pm on 17 Sep 2008, legendarytitans wrote:

    Bourbon whiskey can only be from Kentucky. JD is bourbon whiskey but cannot call itself bourbon whiskey as it is not made in Bourbon county, Kentucky. Wiered... I know..

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  • 12. At 10:48pm on 17 Sep 2008, kwiniaskagolfer wrote:

    Alex, I thought you'd be going to tonight's game. LSU will come undone in October when they meet the garnet and black, and The Oleballcoach.
    (20 yrs since the Earthquake Game . . . .)

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  • 13. At 03:39am on 18 Sep 2008, Mark wrote:

    legendarytitans, what's so weird? It's only the same as the appelation controlee which allows wines to be classified according to region, or Champagne only being worthy of the name if it is made in that particular part of France.
    I remember being stuck in Louisville after a Greyhound bus broke down en route, meaning I missed my connection to Bloomington, Indiana.
    As a boxing fan, I went for a wander, only to find myself in the wrong part of town. I was approached by three, quite threatening African-Americans, who asked what I was doing in their part of town.
    When this white, middle-class, Englishman answered that I was so excited to be visiting Muhammad Ali's hometown, they escorted me on a tour of The Greatest's first gym, favourite diner and the bridge from which he threw his Olympic medal.
    Turned out to be one of the most entertaining mornings I've enjoyed.
    Only wish I was back there this weekend...

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  • 14. At 08:46am on 18 Sep 2008, Mr Vic A. Rageroad Esq wrote:

    "The city - currently the 29th largest in the States with a population of 558,000 - was named for King Louis XVI."

    ----------------------------------

    Sorry to be all picky and that, especially after the whiskey/whisky debate, but when did the BBC decide that things were "named for" instead of "named after" like the rest of Britain? I think this must be the third or fourth time I've seen it on the site. It'll be all faucets and sidewalks next, you mark my words...

    Hope you enjoy your time out there, look forward to reading the rest of your blogs!



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  • 15. At 09:52am on 18 Sep 2008, Suterman1 wrote:

    Wow, this really is pedants corner, i can't believe i just wasted 5 minutes reading those comments.

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  • 16. At 10:11am on 18 Sep 2008, justinius23 wrote:

    "Any person who displays, handles or uses any kind of reptile in connection with any religious service or gathering shall be fined not less than fifty dollars ($50) nor more than one hundred dollars ($100)."

    brilliant.

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  • 17. At 1:13pm on 18 Sep 2008, velkyal wrote:

    legendarytitans

    Is that like Budweiser then, only beer made in Budweis can be called as such?

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  • 18. At 1:40pm on 18 Sep 2008, Mr Vic A. Rageroad Esq wrote:

    Comment 15 - welcome to the internet! I'm sure you'll have a great time here!

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  • 19. At 1:43pm on 18 Sep 2008, Rednyella wrote:

    Trickett

    Just get in a cab from your hotel and say "take me to 4th street, downtown".

    That's all you'll ever need. It is a sheltered street with two levels. Plenty of great restaraunts, bars and on the 2nd level if you like to hoot with the owls a few clubs.

    There is a really cool place called,

    "Howl at the moon" a jazz bar where guys play any songs on the piano you want. They play college fight songs usually for the students and they play plenty of drinking games. It is a great place to have fun after Europe stomp to another victory. It is on 4th street downtown.

    www.howlatthemoon.com, check it out.

    You like some bourbon for your KY visit.

    Hit the Makers Mark Tavern. It is KY's Bourbon house and Lounge. I think you can get a nice drink and smoke a hoagie in here for sure. Also on 4th Street downtown.

    Also another great place is Pub Louisville on 4th street. You need a nice ale or a pint of Guiness. Hit this joint. Also on 4th street downtown.

    4th street also has many other bars and places to eat. Including a Hard Rock Cafe, Mexican food, the BBC (Bluegrass brewing company...lol) and a TGI fridays.

    Trust me 4th street is the place to go and hang out in the evening.

    Hope to see you out there folks!!!

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  • 20. At 2:52pm on 18 Sep 2008, beefbeerandbaps wrote:

    Christ! America really is a sh+thole

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  • 21. At 3:02pm on 18 Sep 2008, Bentinho wrote:

    Kentucky Fried Chicken!

    Anyone else love the idea of it, then when you dive in, realise that is not as nice as you think it should be,so stay clear. Then 6 months later it happens all over again!

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  • 22. At 3:56pm on 18 Sep 2008, Alex Trickett - wrote:

    kwiniaskagolfer (12) - I had a date with Ali (more on that later) otherwise I'd have loved to. Caught the end of the win on TV though. Good point about the Earthquake Game anniversary - I'd settle for that score again. The Gamecocks though - are you sure?

    justinius23 - genius!

    Rednyella - cheers, we will be strolling down there for a couple of beers and I've heard about Howl at the Moon - sounds like a scream. You just try to keep me away.

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  • 23. At 4:35pm on 18 Sep 2008, Richard Irvine-Brown wrote:

    Alright, Tricky.

    Make sure you check out anything to do with Hunter S Thompson. He was born there but I think if there is any celebration of his life you'd more likely find it in Aspen, though...

    And - if you are risking your health with booze and fried food - I think Lucky Strike cigarettes still have their original, toasted factory there.

    (Can't believe I've never bored you before about what makes a Tennessee Whiskey...)

    If you are truly at a loose end, there are probably many barbers in Louisville.

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  • 24. At 4:40pm on 18 Sep 2008, Gorgantua wrote:

    I think I have too much time on my hands as well....anyway, I hope Mr Kipling will forgive the plagiarism.

    If for Golfers

    If you can find your ball when all about you
    Are losing theirs and wishing it on you;
    If you can trust yourself when the yips affect at you,
    But make allowance and stay calm too;
    If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    As they take years to line up putts
    And getting angry, don’t give way to anger
    Then send you’re your ball into the centre of the cup

    If you can play - but not make games your master;
    If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
    If you can meet with eagles then with water
    And treat those two impostors just the same;
    If you can bear to see your chip shot land
    Then skip through to the green-side edge,
    Or watch the draw you thought was fade, find sand
    Take stance and put it close with trusty wedge;

    If you can keep your head when you are winning
    Yet see a fluke drop in - and gently curse,
    And lose, then send your next shot wildly swinging
    And not be broken by your loss;
    If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your swing long after they are gone,
    And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the will which says to them: "Come on";

    If you can play with greats and keep your virtue,
    Or talk with them - nor lose the common touch;
    If neither foes nor boorish crowds can hurt you;
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
    If you can sense your partners flagging game
    Yet trust in him to fight and not give up
    Yours is a golfers spirit and everything that's in it,
    And - which is more - you'll win the Ryder Cup

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  • 25. At 10:31pm on 18 Sep 2008, monkeyhanerref wrote:

    Why are they flying the Union flag upside down?

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  • 26. At 11:20pm on 18 Sep 2008, Alex Trickett - wrote:

    Rich - thanks for the recommendations. Lucky's are a bit strong for my taste but I might have known you'd have had the answers to my Tennessee whiskey woes. As you know, though, I don't do barbers. Look for a related anecdote in a Louisville Lip coming to you soon...

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  • 27. At 06:24am on 19 Sep 2008, legendzero1 wrote:

    JD is not Bourbon. Louisville is the 16th largest city. Scotch is made in Bourbon barrels. They use each barrel once and sell them to Scotch manufacturers in Europe. It's a joke around here, Most Scotch (good Scotch)has a little KY Bourbon in it. And to the Sir or Man that said "America really is a shithole", I've been to your fair land. CCTV cams everywhere and miserable weather coupled with a welfare state, lovely.

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  • 28. At 06:35am on 19 Sep 2008, legendzero1 wrote:

    Abraham Lincoln was born just outside of Louisville. I can't believe Churchill Downs and the KY Derby weren't mentioned. If you're from out of town, check out the Highlands if 4th Street Live isn't to your likings.

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  • 29. At 09:01am on 19 Sep 2008, Fingertapper wrote:

    Yep, cracking place. Lived there in the 70's. However it is to the eternal shame of the city fathers that they took so many years to name anything after the great man. What is now Muhammed Ali Blvd was Chestnut St (or was it Walnut) until well into the eighties. His boyhood home (in what was then a pretty seedy part of the west end) hadn't so much as a commemorative plaque. I hope it has now.
    Fried Chicken - try the "Colonel's Lady" somewhere out Shelbyville direction. He opened this (in his wife's name) after he sold his brand to one of the big chains and is how he intended chicken to be.
    Whiskey - Heaven Hill is not in your list of greats. Repent.
    Attractions - if it's available try for a trip on the Belle of Louisville - the only authentic Ohio/Mississippi river boat still running (the Delta Queen was originally a California boat).
    Finally size - which matters in America. It depends whether you are ranking Louisville as a city (the old city was relatively small), the metro area (to include suburban Jefferson County) or the general conurbation (to include the outlying areas plus a chunk of southern Indiana which for all practical purposes is part of Louisville). You'll get a different ranking depending on which comparison you use.
    Great place. Enjoy.

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  • 30. At 1:00pm on 19 Sep 2008, Alex Trickett - wrote:

    legendzero1 - I was going to get to Chruchill Downs and the Slugger museum in my second blog but an audience with Ali (http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/alextrickett/2008/09/the_greatest_welcome.html) precluded that. But you are right the Kentucky Derby is a massive deal here - "the most exciting two minutes in sport" - right?

    Fingertapper - I used the US Census Bureau for my Louisville population ranking, but you are right to say that there many ways of calculating this. Thanks for the tourism tips - they may have to wait a while but good to know.

    And Heaven Hill? I'm intrigued. Tell me more...

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