Cocktail Best of Winner
- 643 Bar & Grill | Bowling Green, Ky.
- Bowling Green Division
643 Bar & Grill’s Joseph Brazell likes to shake things up whenever possible, so he’s taken his passion for craft cocktails and zeroed in on the most classic bourbon tipple of them all: the Old Fashioned. Traditionally it’s made with bourbon or rye whiskey, Angostura bitters, a sugar cube, a few dashes of water and garnished with an orange slice and cocktail cherry.
Brazell’s take on it is The Nutty Profashional, which includes his special recipe of house-made pumpkin spice puree and Bulleit Rye or the Bowling Green-based Bird Dog Whiskey. “I take a lot of pride when I craft my cocktails, and I always recommend Old Fashioneds,” he says. “So I had created my own house pumpkin spice puree and incorporated it in a recipe for a cocktail I called Pumpkin Spice Puree Martini, which I had submitted to local advertising agency SOKE (South Kentucky). I had gotten so many compliments regarding the puree and flavor of that drink that I figured why not put it in an Old Fashioned for a new twist on an age-old cocktail.”
He typically uses Bird Dog’s maple-infused whiskey to amp up the flavor even more. “That makes it a little more approachable, a little sweeter,” he explains. “This is a nice, super craft-ended cocktail that you can introduce to customers who are a little standoffish when they initially think of bourbon.” It’s one drink he believes he’s won over the bourbon purists with as well, as it doesn’t overpower the spirit’s essence as some updated cocktails tend to do.
When it comes to bourbon, no one takes it more serious than Kentuckians. Their home is where the silky smooth spirit originated, which is why the Kentucky Bourbon Trail of nine signature distilleries is a big attraction for visitors.
For most natives and whiskey connoisseurs, says 643 Bar & Grill’s Joseph Brazell, bourbon consumption consists of enjoying it on the rocks or neat. “They really don’t want to ‘mask’ the flavor of bourbon, particularly when it’s a really nice caliber,” explains the veteran Bowling Green, Ky.-based bartender. “The goal here is to taste all of its heat and smokiness, and the rich caramelized flavors that are in it.”
In addition to crafting innovative new cocktails such as The Nutty Profashional, Brazell spends a lot of time curating 643 Bar & Grill’s rich bourbon program. New owners took over the venue last spring, briefly closed it for remodeling and reopened late summer. Though it’s sports focused and adjacent to Bowling Green Ballpark (which is home to the Bowling Green Hot Rods Baseball team), Brazell maintains that it’s more than hot wings and a beer-and-a-shot joint. According to the restaurant’s Twitter account, they are “redefining the sports bar with distinctively great food, a wide selection of domestic and craft beers, live music entertainment, and more.”
“One of the directions when we first opened—being a Kentucky restaurant and sports bar—was that we really wanted to host a number of different bourbons, especially more select bourbons rather than lower-tier bourbons,” he says. “We’ve tried to acquire some nicer bourbons to introduce to the community. Kentuckians take pride in their bourbon, and we really wanted to stand apart. We have an industrial, yet upper scale edge to us, so that kind of makes us unique. That was part of the challenge for us, to acquire a number of nice bourbons. We have approximately 45 thus far and they’re all on display on LED light boxes.”
643 Bar & Grill also boasts what Brazell calls an “electropub,” where customers get to pour their own craft beer from taps. They’re set up with pre-paid, electronic cards and pay by the ounce.
“A lot of people don’t get to pour their own beer from the taps, so they love the concept,” he says. “We’re one of 17 bars in the country to offer such a service.” The bar also offers more than 30 beers on tap, BBQ pulled pork nachos, buffalo chicken dip, miniature bratwurst corn dogs and a build-your-own-burger option. And live music varies from folk and Southern rock to alternative and the blues.
“We try to kick it up a notch and try not to be just a run-of-the-mill sports bar,” says Brazell. And we think they’re doing a great job.
A Piece of the Essay:
The Nutty-Pump Profashional is an intriguing take on an Old Fashioned, this tried and true drink that hits upon many flavors that epitomize the autumn season. Deep roasted complexity, savory pumpkin spice and sweetness, and the subtle bourbon ‘heat’ notes blend to an intoxicating finish. This cocktail is appropriate for all chilling temperature months, whether enjoyed at the dinner table alongside a hearty meal or settled next to a long-burning heath.
- A true craft cocktail with a mixture of potent flavors
- Love the cinnamon and nutmeg touch and the orange peel finish
- Tasty, tasty stuff
- Visually nice contrast
- Nice craft cocktail
- Great combination of flavors
- Feels very much like a craft cocktail
- Definitely a winner
- Excellent combination of flavor
- Beautiful presentation
- Love the hint of pumpkin
“This is a nice, super craft-ended cocktail that you can introduce to customers who are a little standoff ish when they initially think of bourbon.”