COVINGTON, Ky. -- Mainstrasse will soon add another bourbon-themed bar on Main Street.
Bourbon House 1841 — the year references when the edifice was built — will feature more than 150 kinds of bourbons and specialize in bourbon flights when it opens in March at 522 Main St.
Cincinnati native Dave Brumfield, a self-professed bourbon connoisseur, said he had been looking for a while to open a bourbon bar, specifically on that desirable stretch. When Main Bite closed at the end of 2016, Brumfield purchased the property and moved from Chicago to Newport to oversee construction and development.
“The fact that my daughter is in college and not home anymore, I thought it was the right time to move back, and I was able to make it happen,” Brumfield said.
Before it was Main Bite, the semi-detached row house building was Lime Taqueria, but the space was rather small. Once Demian Wilson, Brumfield’s cousin and general manager, started knocking down walls, the amount of room doubled. They demolished the bathroom, which was basically situated in the dining area, and unearthed a fireplace hidden behind the drywall.
“It’s a long time coming in terms of being able to bring back that glory of what it once was,” Wilson said about renovating the 176-year-old building -- even if it meant combating coal dust spilling out of the walls.
“We’re still looking for Jimmy Hoffa,” he joked.
“I sensed that there was a lot of character that could be pulled out of here,” Brumfield said. “It’s even exceeded what I thought. Once it’s all finished it’s going to have charm and old-school character beyond belief.”
They even discovered a wooden ledger above a door with hewn ax marks dented into it.
“There’s this level of timeliness,” Wilson said. "Maybe that’s something I’ll only appreciate, but at the same time, for me, that is representative of this whole space."
Another centerpiece is the 150-year-old bar they found in Bardstown, Kentucky, and installed in the dining room.
“It goes with Mainstrasse," Brumfield said. "It goes with Kentucky. It goes with bourbon. The fact where we got it, in my opinion, it couldn’t have worked out better for us.”
Brumfield envisions the establishment to be a “cool, vibe-y hangout,” replete with couches and possibly a cigar lounge. They plan on serving bourbon cocktails, wines, bottled beers and flights to distinguish themselves from places such as Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar, which is located down the street.
“I think there’s room for everybody,” Brumfield said. “I don’t think there’s going to be any place here that’s exactly like what we’re going to do.”
Bourbon House will allow customers to sample bourbons and then purchase bottles to take home. Brumfield hopes to pour favorites like Very Old Barton and Woodford Reserve but also rare bourbons.
“For me, it’s been trial and error for years,” Brumfield said. “I can probably, off the top of my head, I’d say 95 percent of bourbons out there, I can give you tasting notes on them.”
Wilson, who isn’t quite as educated in bourbon as his cousin, compares drinking the amber elixir to a communal experience.
“That’s how I see my evolution into bourbon — as a homecoming and opportunity to gather with people who have similar interests,” he said.
Brumfield thought of Wilson when he began negotiations with Main Bite. He liked that Wilson had experience as a general manager at Red Robin and Don Pablo’s, and he wanted a partner whom he could trust.
“He was receptive, and I showed him the building and I shared my vision and what I thought it could be,” Brumfield said. “And he finally understood what my vision was for it, and he got excited about it.”
“His passion for bourbon and his vision was definitely infectious,” Wilson said.
Right now, they are aiming for an early March opening. The place needs a fresh coat of paint, the floors need finishing, furniture needs to be delivered and the bar needs to be stocked.
Then it will be bourbon time.
“In Kentucky, I’m confident that bourbon will always be king, and for us to have an establishment here, we couldn’t be happier,” Brumfield said.
Bourbon House 1841
522 Main St., Covington