Coconut Beach bar and grill
The new Martinez operation: Coconut Beach

Beach, beer and tacos: What more do you need in life, right? Well, the Martinez trio of Fernando, Christina and Yaniel are bringing that combo to you next Monday with the opening of Coconut Beach Tacos & Cerveza. Billed as a Mexican restaurant, bar, grill and dance club, the restaurant, their fifth in two-and-a-half years, is housed in the spot once known as Tailgaters, located across the street from Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium (2787 S. Floyd St.)

If you don’t know who the Martinezes are by now here’s all the review necessary: They own Guaca Mole, Mussel & Burger Bar, El Taco Luchador and Cena. All three places (Cena and Mussel & Burger share a location) were distressed locations the family smartly leased for a low price, decorated themselves and summarily filled with crowds.

Back to Coconut Beach: There aren’t many details on the restaurant’s Facebook page, only the phone number (502-634-2843), some food photos and the mention that it’ll open Monday. Given U of L football’s home opener is Monday night at 8 p.m., one could safely assume it’ll open several hours before that.

Attendance was solid, but not sell-out at the event. It'll be packed next year. Photo courtesy of Galdones Photography for Cochon Heritage BBQ
Last year’s Cochon. Photo courtesy of Galdones Photography

Cochon Heritage BBQ returns Sept. 7: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this is one of the best parties of the year. How can it not be when you’ve got pork prepared about six dozen ways by five talented local chefs, add in free-flowing bourbon, craft beer, hard cider and mezcal, and you host it at the 21C Museum Hotel gallery?

At last year’s event, local chefs served exactly nothing anyone would consider traditional barbecue, and this year event organizer Brady Lowe is leading them to go even further from the classic Southern barbecue paradigm to explore international flavors as they cook for a panel of 20 judges, and then an expected crowd of 300.

“Part of this whole campaign is educating and working to raise awareness of barbecue and the barbecue community on a global landscape,” Lowe said. “I think we’ve been brainwashed in the U.S. to believe that barbecue is based on smoked meat with a sauce of tomato and vinegar. But there’s hardly a country in the world that doesn’t have its own version of barbecue, and it’s usually something that looks nothing like ours.”

To wit, Lowe points out several traditions on his website: hibachi (Japan); braai (South Africa); asado (Argentina); char siu (China); satay (Southeast Asia); mangal (Central Asia); luau (South Pacific); lechonera (Puerto Rico); and barbacoa (Mexico).

“I’m really encouraging this year’s chef competitors to explore these other traditions, to expand their own horizons,” Lowe added.

Chefs returning from last year include Tyler Powell (Rye) and Levon Wallace (Proof on Main). They’ll be joined by Cochon newcomers Brian Enyart (El Camino), Jeff Dailey (Corbett’s) and Ryan Rogers (Feast BBQ). Each will start with a whole pig and be tasked to create a plate of about a half dozen items all using some measure of hog.

Interesting that there are no ladies this year, especially since Annie Pettry (Decca) won it all last year and Coby Ming (Harvest) finished second according to my scorecard and an informal poll of other judges.

Click here to see a good, short video of last year’s judging, and click here to find a ton of photos. (Just look for “gallery” and peruse.)

Cost for the event is $100 for general admission and $200 for VIP admission. That extra nickel lets you get in on the feasting early well before the regular schmoes.

The event runs from 4-8 p.m. Click here to get tickets. And put a note on your bathroom mirror to not eat that day before you come. You’ll need the gut gap.

Kentucky-Bourbon-Festival
Pic from a past Bourbon Fest

Bourbon Festival in Bardstown: Insider Louisville’s Terry Boyd recalls covering the Kentucky Bourbon Festival when it was a one-day event contained by the lawn of Spaulding Hall in Bardstown. Twenty-three years later, it stretches over six days (Sept. 16-21), includes more than 40 events and draws 50,000 people to a city of 13,000 residents.

Be it black-tie-only or blue-jeans preferred event, the festival has something for everyone. Plus, enough bourbon to slake the thirsts of enthusiasts traveling from across the U.S. and a handful of foreign countries to attend.

Fact is, the Bourbon Festival has become a red-hot ticket, and many of the events are already sold out, including the annual Gala, the All-Star Bourbon Sampler (where attendees get to taste nearly every whiskey made by Kentucky distilleries and meet their distillers) and Bourbon, Cigars and Jazz.

Among some particularly cool ticketed events still open include the ARCO Speakeasy (this sounds incredibly cool), the Evolution of Bourbon through Bluegrass Music (very funny and lots of fun), and the Bourbon Style Cooking School. Many weekend events are free and open to the public.

Ticket availability changes often, so check this link to see what events are still in play.

Fond of any particular bourbon distillery? Here’s a list of those participating in the festival.

[dc_ad size="9"] [dc_ad size="10"]
Steve Coomes
Steve Coomes is a restaurant veteran turned award-winning food, spirits and travel writer. In his 24-year career, he has edited and written for multiple national trade and consumer publications including Nation's Restaurant News and Southern Living. He is a feature writer for Louisville magazine, Edible Louisville & The Bluegrass and Food & Dining Magazine. The author of two books, "Country Ham: A Southern Tradition of Hogs, Salt & Smoke," and the "Home Distiller's Guide to Spirits," he also serves as a ghostwriter for multiple clients.