By Doc Lawrence
LOUISVILLE, KY-Few events equal this river city’s Kentucky Derby, but perhaps this week’s college football game between 10th ranked Louisville and 2nd ranked FSU is as close as reasonably possible. Louisville is a tourist’s best dream come true: world-class restaurants, pedestrian friendly sidewalks, riverboat cruises on the Ohio River, the Muhammad Ali Museum, a heralded center for new American plays and a classic American beverage.
This is planet earth’s Bourbon headquarters, the home of the classic cocktail, the Old Fashioned. Bourbon is to Louisville as Coca-Cola is to Atlanta.
Saturday, before the kickoff, one of the nation's most recognizable sports shows, "College GameDay," ESPN's long-running, Saturday morning college football pregame show entertains for two hours. In its 30th season, GameDay’s hosts include former FSU player and Louisville football coach Lee Corso, ESPN veteran Rece Davis, former Ohio State quarterback Kirk Herbstreit joined by Michigan legend and Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard and former Georgia defensive lineman David Pollack. Samantha Ponder, a Florida State grad also appears each week.
The show, a derivative of the tailgating culture, is almost totally festive and is wildly popular with local fans and a huge national TV audience.
College GameDay will have a celebrity guest with ties to Louisville to help pick the winners of the Saturday main events on the college football menu. The list of possibilities is endless. ABC’s Diane Sawyer, Hollywood’s George Clooney and Jennifer Lawrence and NFL Hall of Fame great Paul Hornung are just a few with stellar Louisville credentials.
Louisville beyond football
Bourbon Bar: The Haymarket Whiskey Bar has hundreds of choices. Owner Matthew Landen is a nationally recognized Bourbon wizard. Best bar atmosphere this side of the French Quarter.
Distillery Tour: Peerless Distillery is located in downtown Louisville. Their history parallels the evolution of Kentucky Bourbon. It’s family owned. Chairman Corky Taylor brilliantly represents their fourth Generation. www.kentuckypeerless.com
No tour of Louisville is complete without a copy of The Bourbon Tasting Notebook by Susan Reigler and Michael Veach..