I never would have guessed you could find so much history in one little tavern out in the middle of Kentucky. Prior to visiting a new bar on our list we like to find out as much as we can about the bar’s past so that while we are there we can soak in the historical ambiance. The Old Talbott Tavern has it all! Abe Lincoln stayed there with his family as a child, the exiled French King Louis Phillipe had murals painted on the second floor during his stay, Daniel Boone testified there while the building was being used as a courthouse, and Jessie James even left his mark by leaving bullet holes in the wall! Of course, being built in the year 1779 with that kind of guest list to boast of, to my delight, the place has plenty of ghost stories as well.
The Old Talbott Tavern is still an Inn, so when we booked our night there we of course booked the Lincoln Suite which is in the oldest part of the building. It is the old stone portion of the building on the left which is now the dining room downstairs with rooms above it. The attached building on the right is what is now the bar area also with rooms on the second floor. The two buildings on the left and right are attached to a center structure, so that it is one large building, but what makes it cool is that from the inside and outside they’ve preserved the stone, so you can easily tell which walls were once outside walls.
The bar itself was pleasant enough and the displayed bottles clearly reflected the Kentucky bourbon culture with Maker’s Mark bottles and signs prominently displayed. In fact, the bar is listed as a bourbon bar but we didn’t find any evidence that made it much different from most other old bars. Hitting the bar in the afternoon as we seem to have been doing in our past few trips seems to be the best time to get there, while business is slow because it gives us a chance to talk to the bartender. Heather didn’t have any good bartender ghost stories but she did make some great beer recommendations including the Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale. Loved that beer!
The second level porch just outside our room which overlooks the square was the perfect place to relax with a glass of wine and watch the horse drawn carriage make its rounds throughout the evening. While enjoying the evening, we made two new friends who were also relaxing on the shared porch, and discovered serendipitously that they are also from Tampa! They were there hoping for some ghostly encounters, as well. Okay, truthfully, Bruce wasn’t looking for ghosts, but the rest of us were. We learned that the bullet holes which can be viewed in the Jessie James room were put there after Jessie James had retired to the room to sleep off too many drinks in the tavern downstairs and decided to shoot at the birds in the paintings on the wall. Unfortunately, the ghost of Jessie James chose not to materialize to any of us that night, nor did any of the other ghosts. We had to settle for great stories, new friends, a beautiful night in a historic old Inn, and after a night like that, I don’t think it could have gotten any better. (Well, until we toured the Jack Daniels Distillery on the way home in TN the next day!)