Belles Love Bourbon

Two weeks down with bronchitis–I couldn’t think of a better welcome back post than one about my favorite medicinal libation: bourbon. I like bourbon for the same reasons I like wine: the nuance.

Lately when I decide to imbibe I usually only have one drink, so I like to make it something that I can sip for a while–enjoying all the little notes of flavor. That, mixed with the fact that I’m a Southern girl, is why bourbon is my go-to.

First things first: Let’s clear up some definitions…


Distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mash. Mash could include corn, rye, wheat, or barley. Whiskey is aged in wooden casks, usually made of charred white oak. Also, please note the “e” in “whiskey” and remember you’re an American.

Bourbon Whiskey

Whiskey made up of a primarily corn mash (at least 51%). Legally “bourbon” must be Made in the USA, and it’s mainly associated with the Southern United States because of its Kentucky origins.

Rye Whiskey

Whiskey with a mash made up of at least 51% rye.

Now, for a few of our favorites…


The daily drinker. The handle you have in the back of the liquor cabinet for when the display bottle out on the shelf starts running low. It’s not crazy expensive and nice to sip after a long day.

Other Options: Woodford Reserve, Buffalo Trace

*A Note On Jack Daniels: I’ll leave it at saying we always have a bottle on hand. 1) If there’s one thing we are not short on in this house it’s Tennessee pride! and 2) Guests love, and sometimes demand, their Jack+Coke.

George Dickel Barrel Select

Looking for something unique? Put Smoke Gets in Your Eyes on the record player and pour yourself a glass of this stuff. It’s my favorite “I want bourbon but it’s really cold outside so I also want to feel like I’m sitting by a bonfire” bourbon.

Other options for a little experimenting: Blantons, Basil Hayden’s, Hudson Baby Bourbon

*Like to literally mix things up? While I usually prefer my whiskey neat, we always have juleps on Derby Day and at our Cocktails & Carols party this year, we served Jingle Juleps. More on point for my week, how about trying a hot toddy?

Pappy Van Winkle

Ah, the thrill of the hunt! Want something for your top shelf that will come with a great story? Take a little cash from savings and bribe your local liquor store in September to find out the October release date.

Now tell me, what’s your favorite bourbon? Anything we should check out? 

Our Home Bar: Repurposed Steamer Trunk


The trunk (and floor) before a major overhaul

Hannah and I have always loved taking weekend drives up into the Smoky Mountains. Early in our marriage, while we were still trying to furnish our new (to us) home, we stopped at a little antique store on one of these drives. Filled primarily with the usual suspects, we did happen across one item that stood out: a vintage steamer trunk.

Joe Versus the Volcano

I’ll never let go, Jack!

We loved the look of it, and thought it would make the perfect end table or ottoman. However after a year or so, and a steadily growing liquor cabinet, we decided to repurpose the trunk. We removed four of the drawers, keeping the top for cocktail books & napkins, and creating shelving with the rest. We kept the fronts for the bottom drawers in order to hide the less attractive (or downright embarrassing) bottles. The left side had a perfect shelf at the top for a cutting board we already had, and underneath I put together a wine and glass rack with pine and a brad nailer. We liked the look of the unfinished wood enough that we’ve kept it that way.


The steamer trunk is a conversation piece, and utilizing it as a bar has given us a beautiful and organized way to store our wine & liquor.

Plus, when the house sitter comes over, we can close it.


Bar + Dexter photobomb on the far right



On a related note, Hannah has a post on DIY’s Made + Remade today that will help you stock your own bar for the holiday season.


Sit & Sip: My ‘Welcome Back to Tennessee’ Cocktail

Last weekend, I hosted a Welcome Home party for my honey! (For those that don’t know, he was here all summer.) I tried to make things as ‘East Tennessee’ as possible. There were outdoor games, a galvanized tub of beer, plenty of fried chicken, and this Tennessee Mountain Punch. The recipe was an experiment at the time, and the results were super tasty! The great part? You can make as much or as little as you like!