Living life between the barrel staves in Bourbon Country

Making a Mark on the Holidays – Part 2

pc140791Ok, so it appears Maker’s Mark didn’t revoke my membership for threatening to use this year’s Ambassador Christmas paper to wrap up a bottle of Woodford Reserve. Evidence that I have been given a second chance, or at least an opportunity for redemption, was this week’s invitation to the Ambassador cocktail reception at Hugo’s and Harvey’s in Lexington to benefit the Make A Wish Foundation. In addition to the food, the auction items and the very excellent band, the highlight of the evening was when Bill Samuels, Jr. himself climbed behind the bar and began serving drinks. For those who have never met Samuels or seen him in action, the patriarch of Maker’s Mark can best be described as the clown prince of bourbon. I doubt there is anyone in the business that spends as much time commiserating with the bourbon loving public as he does. He is one of those individuals who really does seem larger than life. I doubt there was a single person in attendance Thursday night that didn’t receive a personal welcome and expression of gratitude from Bill, a warm handshake, and a few moments of pleasant conversation. Mind you, he doesn’t have to do this – Maker’s Mark sells just fine on its own. But in my opinion it is because of this charismatic individual that Maker’s has become something of a cult icon in the spirits industry and with the public. As I’ve said before, there are plenty of great bourbons in Kentucky, but none of them are as fun to drink. So there Bill was behind the bar, making his way slowly down the line of guests, turning to the bartenders for help when someone ordered up something he wasn’t quite familiar with (everything of course being made with Maker’s on this night). There were orders for Manhattan’s, Bourbon Sour’s, a few more esoteric libations, and a fair number of Bourbon and Coke’s (an unspeakable cocktail crime in my book, even worse than the Long Island Iced Tea). When it was my turn, I just smiled and ordered a Maker’s on the rocks. Maybe I’m kidding myself, but I like to think I saw a faint smile come over Bill’s face. After all, he knows that his bourbon really needs nothing more than a glass to be enjoyed.

And speaking of bourbon, PLEASE! No more bourbon balls. I mean I like them, really. But how many can one person eat during the holidays? There is at least a fifth of bourbon currently sitting in my refrigerator, encased in layers of sugar and chocolate, unable to be tapped into and enjoyed – every bit as inaccessible as the ANWAR oil reserves. So the next time, dear friends, when you want to give me something for the holidays, save yourself the trouble, the mixing and the mess, and just pass along that bottle of bourbon you bought. I promise it will be appreciated and enjoyed.

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