I have many friends that are traveling down south for Mardi Gras festivities. While I have been to New Orleans, I have never experienced Mardi Gras in the Big Easy. That said, y’all know in Kentucky we look for any excuse to eat and celebrate; lucky for us, we can partake in Mardi Gras right here in the Commonwealth — and with an Ale-8-One in hand. Iconic, right?
My favorite part about Mardi Gras is that it is a season of tradition. In all of my travels – international, domestic, and local – that is what sticks out most about a destination or an event. I look for spirit, for activities that have been passed down from generation to generation, and for respect and observance of the past in present times.
That’s one thing that Mardi Gras and Ale-8-One have in common: both are deeply rooted in their communities; oh, and it just so happens that cajun food and Ale-8 go perfectly together!
Wondering where to celebrate the holiday in Lexington and Louisville? Well, I have the answer for all y’all!
829 Euclid Ave, Lexington, KY 40502
If you know anything about dining in Lexington – especially small, locally-owned institutions – my guess is that you are familiar with Bourbon n’ Toulouse. Upon walking into the local dive and after taking one bite of their food, you’ll be transported to the owner’s version of the French Quarter — and right down on Euclid Ave. at that!
As for my recommendation, I have to go with their top selling dish: the Chicken Étouffée. A New Orleans staple, it features shredded chicken that rests on rice and is topped with a spicy, roux-based brown gravy. It only tastes better with a longneck Ale-8-One from their refrigerator dedicated to the ginger-based soda. Oh, and one last thing: order extra bread. You’ll thank me later.
1080 S. Broadway #107, Lexington, KY 40504
Fast-casual cajun creole? Gumbo Ya Ya is the spot for you! With an expansive menu: chicken creole, crawfish étouffée, gumbo, jambalaya, and so much more — it can be hard to choose what to order. But, if you have similar tastebuds to me, order the Lobster Ya Ya and don’t look back: it’s a tomato cream sauce chock-full of lobster, onions, garlic, celery, and green + red peppers that’s served with rice and delicious bread.
To wash down your meal, there’s an entire fountain dedicated to Ale-8-One. That, to me, is Heaven on Earth, y’all. Well, at least in the 859!
2109 Frankfort Ave., Louisville, KY 40206
Nestled in the heart of Clifton, you will find J. Gumbo’s. Famous for “cookin’ up real, down-home Louisiana cookin’ and servin’ it up in bowls as big as the bayou”, J. Gumbo’s is the perfect match for those that have an appetite for all things cajun. The recipes are inspired by founder Billy Fox, Jr.’s grandma’s kitchen in Gran Coteau, Louisiana.
To accompany your Ale-8-One, start your meal with Crawfish Cheese Dip and finish off with a hearty bowl of Bourbon Street Chicken.
Pro tip: come hungry.
In this season of tradition, I am thankful to pay homage to the entities that have changed, molded, and impacted my life here in the Commonwealth. Ale-8-One, a family-owned business in Clark County (Winchester) since 1926, has done just that.
I urge you to take a sip from a legendary green glass bottle; after doing so, you’ll understand why I feel the way that I feel.
As always: Happy Eating, Happy Traveling, Happy Living!
Y’all come back now, ya hear?
FTC: This post was kindly sponsored by Ale-8-One; however, as always, all opinions are my own.