Three special dinners in the next two weeks will pair off-the-regular-menu special dishes with Bourbons from two local distilleries, and Champagne from France. All seem like excellent ways to start celebrating the festive season.

  • Tuesday, Nov. 29, at 6:30 p.m., Varanese, 2106 Frankfort Ave., will host Britt Chavanne, fifth generation family member and Vice President of Willett Distillery, who will be the guest at a 4-course dinner that will pair Willet Bourbon flights and cocktails with the dishes by John Varanese and his staff. The menu will include a seared crab cake, a wild mushroom and spinach bisque, char-broiled pork chop with red-eye gravy, and a double-fudge brownie for dessert.

The Bourbon accompaniments include a flight of Willett 3 Year Rye, Willett Potstill and Willett Old Bardstown BIB (Bottled in Bond); “Willett Cider Punch;” “Bourbon Dark Cherry Coke;” and “Old Bardstown Chocolate Manhattan.”

The dinner and Bourbon pairings will be $60. Call (502) 899-9904.

  • On Tuesday, December 6, John Varanese will offer a different kind of Bourbon dinner at River House, 3015 River Rd. Varanese will offer 5 different dishes, to be paired with different brands of Bourbon. According to the restaurant’s press release, there will be a made-to-order Old Fashioned mobile cart making its way around the dining room. Outside the restaurant, a tented Cigar Lounge will offer for sale and enjoyment fine cigars from Cox’s Smokers Outlet or J Shepherd’s Cigars.

Here are the pairings of Bourbon and food. Seatings will be a 7 and 10 p.m.

Pairing 1:Jim Beam Tastings – Jim Beam White, Jim Beam, Jim Beam Double Oaked

Cajun shrimp and brioche skewer, brushed with spicy butter and herbs

Pairing 2: Maker’s Mark Tastings – Maker’s Mark, Maker’s 46, Maker’s Mark Cask Strength

Grilled portobello mushroom stuffed with smoked white bean purée & garnished with fried sage

Pairing 3: Knob Creek Tastings – Knob Creek, Knob Creek Single Barrel, Knob Creek Rye

Bourbon-marinated skirt steak wrap with cabbage, topped with gorgonzola cheese

Pairing 4: Small Batch Tastings – Basil Hayden, Booker’s Bourbon, Baker’s Bourbon

Petite braised pork shank with braised greens, butter-whipped potatoes, finished with bourbon-rosemary pan sauce

Pairing 5: Old Fashioned Cart featuring Jim Beam Black, Knob Creek Rye, and Basil Hayden

Bacon Bourbon Balls

The dinner and Bourbon tastings will be $65. Call (502) 897-5000.

  • And, on Thursday, Dec. 8, Brasserie Provence, 150 N. Hurstbourne Pkwy., will host its holiday tradition, a 5-course Champagne dinner. David Dubou, of Vintner Select, will be on hand to discuss his Champagne choices and Claude Pellerin will play music on the harp.

The menu will start with fried calamari, pickled bell peppers and aioli at the reception.  Other dishes will include a poached duck egg with duck foie gras, sesame-crusted ahi tuna in miso broth, an ostrich fillet with leek and potato gratin and raspberry clafouti for dessert.

Cost of dinner and theChampagne pairings will be $95. Call (502) 883-3153.