May It Please the Palate: Coffee, water or bourbon?


I recently found myself in northern Kentucky, at a law firm gracious enough to let us use their conference room for depositions. After running my mouth dry with probing questions and sarcastic innuendo, I was looking for water.

It wasn’t next to the coffee setup where I expected it, so I asked the receptionist where I could find some. She pointed me to a small refrigerator inside a cabinet in the conference room.

I opened the cabinet, and there was a fifth of Maker’s Mark bourbon, staring me in the face. I smiled and shook my head, and got a water bottle from the fridge. Only in Kentucky would I find one of my favorite bourbons in a deposition room.

What made this discovery even more delicious was that it actually happened to be National Bourbon Day. Yes, there is such a thing ( Here you can learn that bourbon, a uniquely American whiskey, is named after Bourbon County in Kentucky, where most good bourbon is made. They say it’s because of the limestone spring water and abundance of good corn and grains (the grain mash from which bourbon is distilled must be comprised of at least 51% corn). Or maybe it’s the aging in barrels of American White Oak, which provides caramelized sugars that add flavor to the whiskey. The barrels can only be used once, and while some are used for furniture, firewood, or even aging soy sauce, most end up in Scotland where they are used again for scotch whiskies.

After pummeling these footsoldiers of the enemy with my withering deposition, they surprisingly declined to join me in a nip of the Maker’s Mark, so I was on my own to celebrate. I found the Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar in Covington, one of the top bourbon bars in the country, according to Bourbon Review. It features shelves bursting with nothing but bourbon, from big names to small batch craft brews, and intimate seating inside or in a small courtyard out back.

Unfortunately their menu had nothing but potato chips, and as much as I like those suckers, I had a hankering for peanuts. I left my deposition exhibits and flight of three bourbons on the table and hoofed it to the party store up the street, where I bought a bag of peanuts in the shell and five instant lottery tickets.

Here I was, in the heart of bourbon country, at one of the finest bourbon bars in the world – on National Bourbon Day, no less – and I was feeling lucky. The peanuts went down like pearls chased by that amber goodness and I eagerly started stracthing those lottery tickets.

Alas, they were all complete and utter losers. But it was still a good day for the home team. And I will never forget my happy discovery in the cabinet of the deposition room. That’s an idea I just may bring with me up north.
Nick Roumel is a principal with Nacht & Roumel PC, a firm in Ann Arbor specializing in employment and civil right litigation. He also has many years of varied restaurant and catering experience, has taught Greek cooking classes, and writes a food/restaurant column for Current magazine in Ann Arbor. Follow him at @nickroumel.