The 32nd annual Taste of Derby fundraiser for Dare to Care presented by Brown  Forman at Slugger Field was a very busy and fun filled tasting event with over 40 restaurants, caterers, breweries, distilleries and food  vendors offering samples to hungry and thirsty guests for the duration of the three hours with only a few tables starting to run out of samples at the very end. I tried and sampled my way through various tables offering meatballs of different types, some salmon dishes, steak samples,  a few brave (and delicious) vegetable based dishes and a variety of beers, wines, gins, vodkas and bourbons (and a cold brew coffee.) More than anything, I enjoyed getting to speak directly to so many lively and engaging people about their products and also discuss our amazing food and beverage community or their passion for food and drink.

I found family business Bill’s Cheese Spread to be a delicious taste early on, leading the way to heavier eats.  I loved the artichoke with marigold and pickled mushrooms from Seelbach, a delicious steak bite from Bob’s Steak and Chop House,  and the giant  shrimp from Orange Clover Kitchen & More. I also enjoyed desserts like a peanut butter and chocolate cake from Bourbon Bistro and

I was most pleasantly surprised by how good Rivulet pecan liqueur is, which I’d never had before. I also found the Mocktail Project to be very interesting – a “mocktail” movement to provide non-alcoholic cocktails to folks who want to go out with their friends who drink alcohol  but not feel pressured to also do so or who might feel “left out.”  While I loved all of the bourbons being sampled, I did enjoy that Buffalo Trace had their bourbon cream there, offering some variety over the others. The Jeptha Creed Creed Palmer cocktail with lemonade and sweet tea was so smooth, you wouldn’t know it had alcohol if you didn’t know in advance.  In addition to the tastings, the fundraising event had spirit pulls for wine, spirits and premium spirits where you could pay up to $50 and pull a number to take home a bottle worth at least as much as you spent but maybe more. They were completely sold out by the time I came back to try my hand.

Shout out to Volare, who is always superb,  for having our magazines on the table! (Another pleasant surprise.) And another shout out to the very hospitable bartender Luke Rondot at Against the Grain for charging my dead phone, so I could call for my Lyft home — although, maybe I should have walked off all the tastes.

Feature Photo: The team from Bob’s Steak and Chop House at the Omni Hotel. Their steak sample was heaven.