When you walk into a church, there’s a reason that it’s really high ceilings and stained glass windows. It tries to set you in the mood. And I think, if the mood is for cocktails, I think it’s nothing better to be surrounded by all this rich wood and marble.
Opened in 1905, the legendary Seelbach Hilton has hosted gangsters, politicians, and celebrities for generations. Stories of Al Capone evading the law during Prohibition and F. Scott Fitzgerald drinking cocktails from the hotel’s luxurious bar have contributed to the place’s mystique. It’s the perfect environment in which to enjoy a classic cocktail and a taste of the past. But the Seelbach is also looking into the future. Director of Restaurants Jerry Slater is breathing new life into the drink offerings at this historic Louisville hotel. Jerry arrived at the Seelbach in 2001, bringing with him a passion for the history of cocktails, as well as a desire to break new ground. Working with the chefs of the hotel’s Oak Room restaurant, Jerry is constantly creating new drinks. He makes savory cocktails, using ingredients like basil and balsamic vinegar; he takes advantage of the subtle differences in different bourbons, highlighting their individual characteristics; and he is s stickler for fresh ingredients. The Seelbach Hilton may be a historic landmark, but it’s the place to go for contemporary cocktails.
Note: Jerry Slater is now the proprietor of H. Harper Station in Atlanta, Georgia.
Date of interview: January 16, 2008 Interviewer: Amy Evans Photographer: Amy Evans