It all started back in 2011 with one simple goal – to spread the Bourbon Gospel. And for the past several years we’ve had a hell of a time doing it. Through our shared love of America’s native spirit we’ve met new people, swapped stories and even starred in few of our own.
But, along the way, we realized we had stumbled into something far more interesting, and frankly more fulfilling, than whatever was in our glass at the time. A remarkable kinship – born in bourbon, but cemented through genuine curiosity for the world of liquor and the resulting unfiltered conversations we call banter. It’s a big reason we’re here today and the soul of what we’re planning for tomorrow.
We’ve got our sights on going beyond spreading the Bourbon Gospel. We’re looking to unite a band of curious drinkers, original thinkers and just downright candid folks over intoxicating conversation. In renewing our commitment to unpretentious booze reviews, approachable content, and honest barstool talk, we’re creating a community fueled by personal passion and opinion unlike any other.
With a colorful cast of characters – from professional palates and cocktail connoisseurs to casual drinkers and bottom-shelf dwellers – our opinions may be varied but our mission singular: to help you drink curious. Please, pull up a chair and let the banter begin.
Chief Bourbon Drinker & Editor
Born in the shadows of the legendary Anheuser-Busch Brewery to parents that rarely drank, Patrick grew up observing drinking culture from the sidelines. He moved to Japan after high school and spent several of his formative adult years immersed in the infamous Japanese drinking culture. After successfully mastering the Japanese art of drink (or survived if you will), Patrick returned to life in the US and still had no clue what bourbon was all about. It was only after he was married and raising his children did he discover his love for bourbon. Upon finding his beverage soulmate Patrick set about finding others that shared his passion for America’s Native Spirit and started BourbonBanter.com. As our Chief Bourbon Drinker (CBD), Patrick is responsible for charting the course of Bourbon & Banter while we pursue our goal of spreading the bourbon gospel across the globe. Should you ever encounter him in a social situation make sure to introduce yourself. You’re sure to find yourself engaged with quality banter and a free glass of bourbon.
Thomas Fondano has been drinking bourbon and trying every bottling he can get his hands on since last century. While he enjoys all types of whiskeys, bourbon remains his go-to whenever he says, “I need a drink.” He lives with his wife and two children in Portland, Oregon where he makes cocktails every day at 5pm.
Born and raised in the Bluegrass, Erin Petrey has always held an affinity for her home state’s signature spirit: Bourbon. Throughout her world travels (34 countries and counting!), Erin delights in spreading the gospel of Bourbon across the globe, from Spain to Korea and even here at home in the Nation’s Capital, where she also serves on the board of the Kentucky Society of Washington. Frequently, she can be seen giving advice to unsuspecting customers in Bourbon aisles, usually recommending one of her favorite varieties, such as Russell’s Reserve and Elmer T. Lee. Always up for an adventure, Erin also enjoys kayaking, Science Fiction, Craft Beer, and traveling everywhere possible.
Being from Louisiana, food and booze aren’t just pastimes, they’re a way of life. Jonathan considers himself to be a late bloomer to the world of libations, as he didn’t have his first drink until he was 25, but he has spent much of his time since then trying to catch up. Since 2011 he has worked in retail alcohol sales, and more recently he has dove head first into the culinary world. When he isn’t working, Jonathan enjoys cooking and sitting on the porch with good friends, fine whiskey, and a nice cigar.
Melissa is an aspiring bourbon historian who began her romance with bourbon the night of her 21st birthday. She is studying for her Master’s in History at the University of Cincinnati, and works at Historic Locust Grove in Louisville where she contributes to their hearth cooking, distilling, and dairying demonstrations. In her free time, she enjoys stitching reproduction historical garments for living history events, and, of course, spreading the bourbon gospel to anyone who will listen.
The odds are pretty good if you utter the words ‘Barrel Proof’ or ‘Cask Strength’ anywhere near Brett, he will find his way over to you. A native Chicagoan, he attended the University of Kansas and Chicago’s John Marshall Law School before moving to Omaha, Nebraska. Incorporating whiskey hunting into frequent traveling for his packaging distribution business, Brett espouses Mark Twain’s belief that “too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough.” If you spot him, he will almost always have a book in his hands. Above all else, he enjoys spending time with his wife and three kids, who have simply accepted that whiskey is just another member of the family.
Growing up in Minnesota gives a person a great appreciation for anything that warms the body and soul.
Whiskey and wine have been helping to warm Luke for many years. Jim Beam and coke morphed into whiskey waters and eventually Bourbon. Two buck chuck led to several trips to Napa Valley and a love for most varietals of wine. He is fortunate enough to have travelled most of the US through his career in financial services. A beautiful and understanding wife mostly tolerates his other hobbies including golf, hunting and reading. 2 young kids keep them busy as well. Appreciation for the subtle differences that each decision a distiller makes keeps him coming back for more and has him excited for the future.
Born and raised in the beer town of St Louis, it wasn’t until later in life that Gerald came to appreciate the calm, relaxing feeling that only a great pour of bourbon can provide. A seeker of simpler things, he enjoys a sip or two of bourbon in combination with the rolling smoke and crackle of a nearby grill or campfire.
Gerald has over twenty years of experience as a creative storyteller, fiction writer, and content provider for websites and blogs. He has been published in local, national and international publications, and also crafts stories related to the inherent connection between man, fire, and nature on his grilling and storytelling blog, www.inkandembers.com. He is honored to join the Bourbon & Banter team, helping to spread the bourbon cheer.
Born and raised in Newport Beach, California, Matt Evans married a native Kentuckian and has called Louisville home since 2007 – after stops in Washington D.C. and Durango, CO. His love affair with bourbon started as an attempt to learn more about his adopted hometown (and get in good with his in-laws!); the pursuit has developed into a full blown passion. Through the Stave and Thief Society, Matt is certified as an Executive Bourbon Steward. He has certifications from the Filson Historical Society’s Bourbon Academy and the Woodford Reserve Bourbon Academy. He also has served as Master Distiller for-a-day at the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience under the tutelage of Artisanal Distiller Charlie Downs.
Matt’s day job is instructing 7th grade World Geography, and he is the proud father of two daughters. During the summer, Matt teaches bourbon history courses at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York state (www.ciweb.org).
Kyle was born in St. Louis and has lived in the Midwest his entire life. His father introduced him to bourbon when he was 21 years old, and has been enjoying it ever since. Kyle has completed the Kentucky Bourbon Trail on three different occasions, and cannot wait for the opportunity to return. He shares his love of bourbon with his wife, Emily, who traveled the bourbon trail with him for their first wedding anniversary in 2011. He enjoys comparing bourbons from different distilleries and different areas of the country and enjoys sharing a glass with friends and family. Currently, he spends the majority of his time caring for his two young sons but manages to share his love of bourbon with them as well. His four year old frequently says, “When I’m older, I’m going to drink wine and bourbon.”
Brent was born and raised in Indianapolis, IN. After graduating from the University of Kansas with a degree in Journalism, he moved back to Indy where he eventually resurrected his family’s brand of all beef kosher style hot dogs and opened a restaurant, King David Dogs, in downtown Indianapolis. When he’s not juggling the many duties of an entrepreneur, he can usually be found relaxing at home with his wife, their twin boys, and their two dogs. Brent is a member of the Bourbon Society of Indianapolis, a BBQ enthusiast, and a cigar aficionado. Three things that are even better when enjoyed together with good friends. If Brent is not talking about bourbon, he’s probably talking about sports, in particular NFL football and Kansas Jayhawks basketball. You can follow his blog, BBQ and Bourbon here: http://bbqbourbon.tumblr.com/.
Jim Knudsen has lived in every region of the United States and traveled the world, always enjoying experiences with spirits. While he has sampled local spirits in nearly 50 countries on 5 continents, he always comes home to bourbon. Jim is an accomplished global sales and marketing executive with a
degree in Physics from Michigan State University and an MBA from Baldwin-Wallace College. Having been raised in Michigan in a household rich with the experience of enjoying drink, he now lives in Georgia with his wife Karen, the love of his life, his personal editor, and style consultant. When not
drinking bourbon he likes to golf, read, and enjoy professional football and boxing (actually these are more often enjoyed while drinking bourbon). Having raised four successful children, he has a wealth of experience with drink.
Jarrod, also known as “Mr. Scotch”, is relatively new to the world of whiskey. Born in Pittsburgh, PA, he graduated from Florida State University with a degree in Finance and is now living in St. Augustine, FL with his wife and cat. While his career so far has run the gamut from stockbroker to small business owner, Personal Trainer to Acquisitions Specialist for the county, he is currently enjoying a little time off to work on personal projects and explore new opportunities. He has been fine tuning his taste for Scotch Whisky over the past few years and has recently begun to expand his personal whiskey collection to include selections from other regions of the world, with a strong representation of the American made spirits… bourbon and rye whiskies. Hobbies include travel, photography, woodworking, home rehabbing… and working on that never ending whiskey wishlist.
Some of my fondest memories are in the kitchen with my Gram. She spent a lot of time nurturing my naturally curious nature. We spent hours cooking together and as most Italian women, we take great pride in feeding our families. My Gram has since passed, but her famous catch phrase is still with me “A lil’ dab will do ya!”
I’ve taken her catchphrase with me throughout my life. Specifically with whiskey in my twenties (haven’t we all). In Jersey, I started drinking the dreaded whiskey and cokes, but my pallet has progressed and now I appreciate all whiskey & bourbons, neat.
In fact, I love it so much that I try to incorporate it into my cooking on a steady basis. Hence my blog “A Lil’ Dab Of Bourbon.” My love of all things bourbon continues to progress, and once again I am beginning another chapter. Several months ago, I began my training to be a Whisk(e)y Sommelier and plan to document this journey.
Through this journey of flavor profiles, failures and successes I can say that I’ve loved every bit of it! I adore the bourbon community and I love documenting my experiences. I’m excited to share my kitchen adventures with you!
Living on the plains of Wisconsin, Jeff’s super power is making whiskey disappear. He has lived around the country, making various long-term stints between Colorado, Florida and Wisconsin. He has a degree in English from the University of Wisconsin and an MBA in Marketing from Regis University.
He discovered the joys of whiskey later than some. While starting with Scotch as a curiosity, his love of all things whiskey, especially Bourbon and Rye blossomed when his wife discovered a boutique liquor store in South Florida. After becoming established customers, his wife then started working for that store, opening opportunities and creating connections that Jeff could partake.
Jeff is currently enjoying life with his wife and dog.
Raised in the great state of Tennessee, Matt has a hard time admitting the native spirit of the Bluegrass neighbor to the north captured his obsession (& most of his wallet). Having progressed through the red solo cup days to a passion for a barrel-proof wheated bourbon, neat, Matt is always on the hunt for the next bottle. When he is not scouting or sipping bourbon, Matt spends time with his wife and four children. When he needs money for the next trip to Bardstown, Matt manages a wealth management firm. He always buys bourbon to drink and believes nothing should come between friends except two rocks glasses and a three-finger pour.
Lee’s bourbon journey started with one mistaken gulp of bourbon and coke as an eight-year-old. While bourbon was always part of his life, Lee followed a beer, wine path for the most part until a bartender poured him a taste of Buffalo Trace about ten years ago. It was at that point Lee’s love of bourbon really took off. Not only does Lee enjoy a good pour of bourbon but he is more than willing and excited to talk about it. Lee believes that bourbon, and for that matter all spirits, is enhanced by the experience of good company, good conversation and good bars. The combination leads to great stories. Say hi to him when you see him. Lee lives in Leesburg, VA, with his wife, best friend, and drinking partner, Patti. You might find her having a bourbon as well. Both Lee and Patti like to read mystery thrillers and travel. Most likely the travel leads to visits to new bars.
Alex is a native Londoner who spent ten years discovering whisky, craft spirits and cocktails in Edinburgh before returning home in 2013. He has since dedicated himself to dipsological study, particularly cocktail creation, events and bar reviews, through his website at www.foxandbeagle.com.
Contributors At Large
(former regular contributors currently roaming the earth while drinking)
GinnyTonicCincyAlthough Ginny was a late bloomer to the world of drinking she likes to think she’s making up for lost time. She had my first manhattan at the age of 24 and fell in love. Finally, there was a drink she felt cool ordering and actually liked the taste of. Bourbon is her drink of choice and where she geeks out the most, but she honestly enjoys all aspects of drinking. The way it brings people together, the way it combines art, science, and culture, the way a nice drink at the end of the day can make the world seem so much better than it did a few minutes before. When she’s not writing for Bourbon & Banter, she writes for Queen City Drinks and co-hosts two podcasts: an hour long culture podcast called The Charlie Tonic Hour and a shorter all alcohol show called Bottoms Up. She is also the owner and lead guide for Tonic Tours, where they offer small group alcohol-based tours that focus on craft producers as well as hosting classes, tasting and other events.
Lindsey_Wehking“If a dive bar were a person it would be Lindsey ” – Mom
Lindsey was raised on cheap bourbon and the Blues. Since peddling fine spirits in London and discovering the peatiest of whisky in Scotland, she has classed up her tastes a bit. But, you’ll still find her sipping on Old Crow Reserve and haunting dive bars on your periphery.
She lives in St. Louis, Missouri where she is a strategic planner by day. If you’re ever passing through and would like to swap a good story, let her know, there is nothing she enjoys more.
Want to contribute to Bourbon & Banter?
We’re always open to meeting talented writers and graphic designers who share our love of bourbon, whiskey, booze, and banter. If you have a passion for all these things and would like to contribute to Bourbon & Banter, please send a sample of your writing (bourbon related) or graphic design samples along with your social media credentials to [email protected] If we like what we see we’ll get back in touch with you to discuss potential opportunities for you to become part of the Bourbon & Banter contributor community.