Neat or on the rocks?
For lovers of bourbon or just adventurous tasters looking for a good time, Bricktown Rotary’s annual booze bash has something special planned. It’s Boots & Bourbon, a switch from its traditional Days of Wine and Rotary fundraising event.
Scheduled 7:30-11:30 p.m. Sept. 15 at Oklahoma History Center, 800 Nazih Zuhdi Drive, organizers encourage everyone to bring their IDs and dress in casual, fun Western wear in keeping with the theme.
“We wanted to offer a fresh twist this year by rebranding to a bourbon-tasting experience,” said Patrick Gaines, event co-chairman. “In the past, it was just wine, and a lot of people don’t like wine.”
Craft beers were added to last year’s event offerings to appeal to non-wine drinkers, and Gaines said adding bourbon is a positive draw.
“Bourbon tastings are really popular right now, and we wanted something for everyone … to make it a new adventure,” he said.
Gaines describes Boots & Bourbon as a fun night for the 21-and-over crowd to enjoy great wine, craft beer, delicious food and selections of premium bourbon — most not available anywhere else in Oklahoma — such as drams from Bulleit Frontier Whiskey, an event sponsor.
Bulleit, based in Louisville, Kentucky, produces bourbon, a 10-year-old select reserve and a rye whiskey.
Guests may also enjoy expressions from Few Bourbon (Evanston, Illinois), Jefferson’s (Crestwood, Kentucky), Firestone Robertson Distilling Company (Fort Worth, Texas), and an Oklahoma distillery, Prairie Wolf Spirits (Guthrie).
“We want to expose people to other things that are out there,” Gaines said. “We’ll have some 12- and 14-year-old whiskeys, too.”
Knappogue Castle Whiskey (Ireland) and a selection from Isle of Arran Distillery (Scotland) will be up for tasting alongside their American cousins.
Wait. Why would whiskey (or “whisky” if it’s from Scotland) be at a bourbon tasting?
All bourbons are whiskey, but not all whiskey can be labeled as bourbon.
The three main ingredients in both are grain, yeast and water. Corn and location make the difference.
“Bourbon can only be produced in the United States (not just Kentucky). It’s made from a mash bill of at least 51 percent corn and then matured in a brand-new charred oak barrel,” according to the Bulleit distillers.
Whiskeys may also have other additions, such as peat smoke or flavor from aging in wine casks, and may be made with barley or rye.
Neat, on the rocks with a splash of water on top or violated with fizzy soda, there are a number of ways to drink it.
“There are … a lot of varieties in bourbon,” Gaines said.
He mostly drinks it on ice but will “sip it neat depending on how good it is.”
What’s most important is you enjoy it “any damn way you want to,” said Jim Beam master distiller Fred Noe in a video outlining the steps of drinking the Kentucky spirit.
In addition to bourbon, your ticket includes the opportunity to sample a selection of local craft beers provided by COOP Ale Works and Anthem Brewing Company, several wines and a range of food from barbecue to Japanese fusion.
A silent auction includes the chance to bid on a trip to Costa Rica, and live music by local musician friends Muscadine Jelly (Frank Lawrence, Danny Lawrence, Chris Boyd and Jam Skippy) will keep toes tapping.
“Over the last 14 years, the Bricktown Rotary Foundation has given tens of thousands of dollars to local and regional charities and has donated thousands of dollars to our partners through Rotary International,” Gaines said.
This year, guests might see a set-up ShelterBox, one of the charities the event benefits.
A ShelterBox contains the essentials people need to begin rebuilding their lives in the aftermath of a disaster. Each is tailored to the specific disaster but typically contains a relief tent, thermal blankets and groundsheets, water storage and purification equipment, solar lamps, cooking utensils, a basic tool kit and a children’s activity pack. Many were distributed in the aftermath of the 2013 Moore tornado.
General admission tickets are $65. VIP tickets, which include early entry and premium bourbon tastings, are also available for $90. The first 200 guests will receive a commemorative rocks glass. Guests must be 21 to attend.
Visit eventbrite.com or call Julia Baker at 405-706-4526.
How to drink bourbon in four steps:
1. Look at the color
The lighter the color, the lighter the flavor. Darker colors denote more complex flavors.
2. Smell it
You want to part your lips or open your mouth a little when you put your nose in the glass. This keeps the alcohol from going up your nose and masking the smell of the bourbon.
3. Taste it
Roll it around in your mouth to get all the flavors. Your tongue and mouth pick up different flavors in different places, and you need to roll the drink around to taste it fully.
4. Consider the finish
What flavor did it leave behind in your mouth? That’s the finish.
Boots & Bourbon
7:30 Sept. 15
Oklahoma History Center
800 Nazih Zuhdi Dr.
Print headline: Whiskey in a jar, Bricktown Rotary gets the brown out for Boots & Bourbon.