Kentucky is known for its bourbon, but in the early days, moonshine was the most famous alcoholic drink. And it's making a comeback.
In the January issue of Southern Living, an article on the best legal moonshine says "the fiery Southern spirit has gone legit. Long a backwoods legend cloaked in secrecy and shady dealings, the clear hooch was available only if you knew someone who knew someone. Now this grain distillate sits conspicuously in stores — all taxes paid."
The article listed five favorites, including Kentucky's Buffalo Trace White Dog Mash No. 1, saying it was the strongest of the lot, at 125 proof, and "delivers an authentic moonshine burn."
"What started as a lark to only sell in our gift shop has ended up gaining national coverage in the New York Times and caused retailers and bartenders alike to beg for it," Buffalo Trace Distillery public relations manager Amy Preske said.
"We have now started slowly allowing distribution of White Dog outside of the gift shop, so you can buy it in Lexington at Liquor Barn and even at some Sam's Clubs nationwide," she said. It retails for $15 to $17 a bottle.
White Dog is clear and un-aged, and the taste has a hint of sweet corn but without the years spent aging in a new oak barrel. Go to Buffalotrace.com.
Romance and history
Whitehall House and Gardens in Louisville will hold a romantic candlelight dinner on Valentine's Day at the historic mansion.
Chef Gregoire Guiot of Mirabelle Gourmet Catering will prepare a five-course meal. Tickets are $75, and wine pairings for each course are an additional $25. Call (502) 897-2944 or go to Whitehall@historichomes.org. Dinner begins at 7 p.m. Whitehall is at 3110 Lexington Road.
The menu includes miniature crab cake with lotus-root chips; butternut squash soup; duet of filet of beef en croute and salmon- asparagus medallions; and for dessert, a trio of miniature vanilla crème brûleé, chocolate mousse in sugar crust, and lemon-curd shot.
Some help for Old Friends
The third annual Old Friends Along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail will begin at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 19 at the Seelbach Hilton in Louisville.
The progressive dinner and bourbon-tasting will benefit Old Friends, the Thoroughbred retirement center in Georgetown. Tickets are $100.
Seelbach chef de cuisine Bobby Benjamin will prepare Wagyu short rib with horseradish potato purée, bourbon-glazed farm carrots and bourbon-pecan gastrique.
Call Melissa Getz at (502) 585-9292,or go to Oldfriendsequine.org. The Seelbach is at 500 South Fourth Street in Louisville.
Food power: the list
Tom Colicchio, Steve Jobs, Michele Obama and the chief executive of Wal-Mart have been named among the 50 most powerful people in food, according to TheDailyMeal.com, the all-things-food site headed by Saveur co-founder Colman Andrews.
The list acknowledges those who influence what we place on our palates daily, most for better and some for worse. Among them:
■ Jeffrey Jordan, CEO of OpenTable, revolutionized restaurant reservations nationwide.
■ Guy Fieri, chef and TV personality, has become a huge success since winning the second season of The Next Food Network Star in 2006.
■ New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg abolished trans fats, regulated soda and sodium, and mandated calorie counts at chain restaurants.
■ Ingrid Newkirk, co-founder and president of PETA, promotes vegetarianism and humane treatment of animals raised for culinary uses.
■ Donnie Smith, CEO of Tyson Foods, is why we eat chicken two (if not three) times a day.
■ John Mackey, chairman and CEO of Whole Foods Market, helped bring organic and sustainable foods to mainstream America.
To see the full list, go to Thedailymeal.com/50-most-powerful-food-folk-america.