is the grass any bluer...

is the grass any bluer...
on the other side?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Blue Heron: Where Birds of a Feather Flock

Chandelier crafted by Jacqui VanHam
What do bourbon, bustles, and the Bronx have in common in the Bluegrass?  

They're all part of the unique decor at The Blue Heron, the sister bar to The Grey Goose that sits directly across the street in the spot where Ace Weekly once held its salon-like Front Porch Fridays.  

Yep,  it's all true -- the red brick building where I used to settle on the swing on a Sunday afternoon to do some writing and catch a little sunshine or stop in on a non-deadline day to share sandwiches on the steps with my editor now holds an unexpected oasis of creative cocktails garnished with coolio delicacies like candied ginger.  The servers are pretty, the bartenders are happy, the bar is decked to the nines, and good times are waiting like little embers of joy.
JFK had a Star class sailboat (22") 
named Flash II. 
He had a Wianno Senior (26")
 named Victura. I think this is the boat 
that is seen in the photos 
of him on deck or 
at the helm.  He also sailed 
a boat owned by the 
Coast Guard called Manitou (62").

The bartenders enjoy making a good drink, too.  When I walked in tonight, self described "old song-and-dance man" Michael Sebree was giving a tutorial on martini-like drinks to Lynzi Hippler.  I think they just made those names up to impress me, that's how special I felt when I was there.  Immediately upon entering, I felt like I had stepped back into my Grandma Tommy's house in Norwood, Ohio. It's a little older than that, but the architecture is similar, with exposed brick walls that are met and topped by fancy old-time real paneling. The carpentry will shiver ye timbers, the entire place is a true woodworker's dream, and the beams leading to the pinnacle of the ceiling carry the eye naturally upward to see where the whole place points to heaven as if to thank the gods of drinking. 

The upstairs windows of the house have been left intact, showing just a peep of what's outside from the top of what used to be an attic -- the view for the guest is from the ground level only, of course, since the ceiling has been vaulted, and the brick and wood exposed, but the glimpse gives the feeling that Someone is watching over you while you're having a good time.  I like that. 

According to owner Keith Clark, the gorgeous mahogany bar -- replete with a vintage art deco silver mirror and Victorian-ish embellishments -- was bought online through a broker from Cincinnati, but it originated from the Bronx after being uncovered and discovered by recent construction work in NYC.  "It had been covered for years!" Keith enthusiastically explained as he proudly showed me a few of the other fanciful and whimsical qualities about this unique sweet bird of a bar.  The photo of a photo of JFK and Jackie in Merrimack on their sailboat -- this portrait must be seen by every lambchop reading my words.  It is breathtaking!  Once I saw that photo, I was taken back to the happy times of my childhood, I was wonderfully stupidly transfixed, and had to keep going back to look at the picture.  It reminded me of the way I felt the first time I saw Til The Cows Come Home, the painting that blesses the back wall of the Goose.

Clark also pointed out another photo of the original racetrack of Lexington which was on Race Street (natch)!  The photo shows the track, and a great crowd full of men in smart suits and women in bustles, a lil Jack Russell Terrier who looks as if he is posing perfectly for the shot, even though he's just a tiny part of the big crowd -- it's so nostalgically sweet to think that apparently, nobody thought twice about bringing their doggie to the track...and the 'skyline' of Lexington in the background was punctuated by the First National building on the corner of Main and Upper in the distance.

In the midst and crowning glory of all this fascination is a work of art by Jacquie VanHam of Louisville, a Kentucky-proud chandelier made of Maker's Mark bottles (!!) with Edison bulbs and held together like a great whiskey chassis by charred oak staves from Maker's Mark 46 as well as good ol' regular Maker's Mark barrels  Keith noted that the top metal rungs of the chandelier are darker and come from the specialty 46; the lower staves are from the regular, it is a sight to behold as well. 

Before I left, I snapped a few pix with my trusty BlackBerry, sorry they're kinda puny, but  you really need to just stop in and check The Blue Heron out.  With its master carpentry work, blazing fireplace and super friendly staff, The Heron is surely to be much like its sistership (now affectionately referred to as simply the Goose), a place to rest your feet and take in the gorgeous crowd enjoying a libation and an interior that makes you feel as if you're waiting on the train for Coney Island. 

For those like me who have grown weary of neon and fussiness, for the soul who just wants the bartender to enjoy making your cocktail, the Blue Heron will attract folks game for all the loveliness that Lexington is brimming with just for our leisure and pleasure. Stop in and have yourself a little vaycay from the hustle, and check out the bustles!  See Jackie and Jack so in love, you can see Camelot in their eyes as they watch the regatta from their sailboat. 

Ask the bartender to make you a special Old Fashioned or Rusty Nail, they'll do it!  Walk around the deck and see where the century old tree on Jefferson has been lovingly preserved by the fellows who built the deck, which will be crammed with people once there is a pretty weather day (which could be tomorrow, this is Kentucky after all).

Yes, color me in love with The Blue Heron already -- it's a warm neighborhood pub where everyone's smiling, there's an air of what-will-be anticipation, every piece of the design has been tastefully considered with a healthy respect for God's creation, the gift of trees and wood for fire and building (I think I saw Dogwood trees 'bout to be planted, too).  

The place is shaking up the Jefferson Avenue corridor, and all eyes are on this quaint blue establishment with the welcoming interior of oak, mahogany and beautifully exposed brick.  The only disappointment for me is that I was not their first regular -- he walked in when I was there, and I envied him immediately.  I bet those martinis with the candied ginger flags were his...

I'll be back.  Oh, yes.  I will be back!

peace, y'all,

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