This old Airstream camper will be transformed into the patio bar at Gospel Bird.

This old Airstream camper will be transformed into the patio bar at Gospel Bird. | Courtesy of Gospel Bird

Two dinner and live music openings in April: Varanese has its jazz ensemble and Buck’s has its pianist-singer, but no Louisville restaurant in my lifetime has boasted a separate music and dinner venue.

That’ll change this month when Levee at the River House opens on the 13th, followed by the April 22 unveiling of Blue Moo at Le Moo restaurant.

Levee owner John Varanese told me recently the very casual venue will feature a wide range of bands playing varied styles of music. Compared to the super-large River House, the space is relatively intimate with seating for about 100. The circular bar, which I only saw under construction, will be too cool.

According to Le Moo owner Kevin Grangier, Blue Moo will seat 72 in fairly cushy surroundings and host small singer and band ensembles playing classic dinner house band and jazz tunes.

“When I went to New York many years ago and saw how they did it at the Rainbow Room, I was blown away; I loved it,” Grangier said. “That’s what I want to recreate here, but on a much smaller scale.”

A custom steel chandelier is lowered into place at Blue Moo, which will open April. 22. | Photo courtesy of Kevin Grangier.

A custom steel chandelier is lowered into place at Blue Moo, which will open April 22. | Courtesy of Kevin Grangier

Expect full stories on both later this month.

**Additionally, Grangier said Le Moo’s outdoor patio will open in the next couple of weeks and feature tables shaded below cloth and rail cabanas. He said to expect great happy hour prices from about 3-6 p.m., followed by full dinner service at regular prices.

This Airstream’s for drinkin’, not towin’: Eric Morris, owner of the recently opened Gospel Bird restaurant in New Albany, posted a Facebook photo of a 1965 Airstream camper he says will be restored and then turned into the restaurant’s patio bar. Now that’s what I call clever repurposing!

Get back, Alley Cat! Hey, gin fans, don’t forget about Copper & Kings‘ Alley Cat Gin release party Friday, April 8, at 7 p.m. According to a news release, the event begins with a seminar and demonstration on the history of gin used in cocktails, followed by an Alley Cat tasting with head distiller Brandon O’Daniel. If you want to buy your own 375ml bottle and have it signed by artist Douglas Miller, it’ll cost you $40.

You can read C&K’s colorful tasting notes below, but won’t it be more fun to write your own? I’ll be there to do mine.

  • Appearance: Not as dark as we expected after 22 months. Is there such a thing as botanically brown? (For those not familiar with gin, it’s rarely aged, but that’s changing.)
  • Aroma: Piney, juniper and citrus forward, but quite earthy and a little woodsy. Chartreuse?
  • Taste: Not sweet. Very balanced and surprisingly little overt bourbon notes like vanilla with faint fennel and spicy cinnamon on the back end. Just a hint of orange blossom.
  • Finish: Silky smooth with no sharp edges. Not spiky or hot, but quite clean and crisp, but definitely a creamy mouth-feel.

**On a related Copper & Kings note, don’t miss Cured & Crafted this Saturday, April 9, at the distillery. Yeah, it’ll be chilly that day, but just bundle up and maybe, just maybe, that’ll be the last cold day of the month. Plus, it’s free admission and the food will be great!

Drink Maker’s and help UK students: Given the disappointing outcome of the Wildcats’ NCAA hoops tourney run, this ought to give their fans something to cheer about. Maker’s Mark is releasing the second in a line of UK-themed bottles (full of Maker’s bourbon, of course) to raise funds for expansion of the University of Kentucky’s Center for Academic and Tutorial Services 2016 CATS Bottle High-res(CATS). This 2016 release features an image of former Cats coach Joe B. Hall cutting down the nets after his team won the NCAA championship in 1978.

The limited bottles go on sale this Friday, April 8, at local liquor stores.

Gimmie a slice! More fast-casual pizza is coming to the area, this time under the name of topp’t Handcrafted Pizza + Chopped Salads. The pizzeria will open at 373 Professional Ct. (near Northside Christian Church and Meijer) in New Albany this June. According to a news release, this will be second topp’t; the first opened six months ago in Elizabethtown.

Expect fresh salads and fire-baked pizzas made to order on original, wheat and gluten-free doughs.

Food trucks and soccer tailgating make for awesome eats: The Louisville Food Truck Association recently announced it’ll corral several of its vendors outside Slugger Field prior to all Louisville City FC soccer home games. Heck, they’ll be there three hours prior to every match serving food and beer, which means you don’t have to bring a thing if you don’t want. Click the LCFC link above for the team’s schedule.

A cause ‘rooted’ in cooking: New Roots, a Louisville-based food justice nonprofit, is hosting the inaugural “Cook to the Root!” cocktail reception at 21c Museum Hotel on Sunday, April 17, from 6-9 p.m. The event seeks to recruit local chefs, cooks and culinary enthusiasts who will provide on-site cooking demonstrations for New Roots’ 10 bi-weekly Fresh Stop Markets. Those markets will be located in neighborhoods with limited access to fresh food and be open during the 20-week growing season that begins in June.

According to a news release, this reception will allow local restaurant industry professionals to learn more about the Fresh Stop Markets, connect with food justice-minded peers, and sign up for the 100 available volunteer cooking slots.

Complimentary beet-infused tequila cocktails, beet gelato courtesy of Gelato Gilberto and farm-fresh bites prepared by Proof on Main’s executive chef Mike Wajda also will be available at the event.

The cocktail reception is free, but capacity is limited, so interested volunteers should RSVP by calling 509-6770 or emailing [email protected]. Prospective attendees should include their name, affiliation (if any), email and phone number.

Local kombucha maker swimming with Venture Sharks: As Insider mentioned Wednesday, ZOFI Kombucha was selected as a semifinalist for the 2016 Venture Sharks business pitch competition, set for next week. Not noted was the fact that ZOFI is the creation of Christopher Turner, a longtime chef who moved here last year. Turner recently brought me bottles of his current two-product line, Luv Potion 1 and Luv Potion 9, and both were delicious and unique.Zofi Kombucha

Potion 1 tastes like a super-mild version of a sour beer, but drinks like champagne (I’d pair it with sushi). Potion 9 is sweeter, accented with strawberry, vanilla and lemon (I’d chill it super cold and hit the porch with cheese and charcuterie or even pour it over vanilla ice cream).

“They’re definitely designed with food in mind since I’m a chef,” Turner said. “But I love sipping them by themselves, too.”

Kombucha itself is viewed as a healthful elixir, one widely available and which an industrious and frugal type could make at home. The fermented KOFI version is brand new to the beverage market, so currently it’s available at just Lucky’s and Whole Foods.