Celebrate the close of summer at the fourth annual Bissinger’s, Bourbon & BBQ, the premier bourbon tasting event in St. Louis, slated for Sunday, Aug. 25. The event features over 100 bourbon varieties to sample, along with an open bar, plenty of barbecue dishes, chocolate-based desserts and entertainment.

While many of the most familiar distilleries will be represented, including Jim Beam, Wild Turkey, Evan Williams, Maker’s Mark, Knob Creek and Four Roses, there will also be plenty of rare and unique spirits on offer.

“Wood Hat and Spirits of St. Louis are two of our favorites that are close to home, and Jefferson’s Ocean whiskeys are aged at sea,” says Matt Zuercher, marketing manager for 23 City Blocks Hospitality Group. “And, of course, we will be featuring bourbon from our hand-selected Four Roses barrel. This premium spirit will be the inspiration for many of the event’s signature items.”

photos courtesy of The Caramel Room

Upon arrival, guests check in and receive tasting passports, a commemorative glass and other items. They can then stop by the premium open bar or continue toward the dining room area. 

“Our 30 or so bourbon distillers will be positioned throughout the dining room providing samples of various bourbons they produce,” he says. “And in the center will be a huge array of food stations with a variety of barbecue and other fare. Pork will be featured heavily, but guests will find a wide array of appetizers, sides and main dishes available.” 

As for the signature dessert, “The most I can share at this point is that it will be a nitrogen-frozen treat inspired by this year’s barrel selection,” he says.

Outside on the rooftop terrace, a whole hog will be roasting on a spit, and a vendor will be hand-rolling premium cigars. 

“For some people, you can’t enjoy a proper bourbon in one hand without a cigar in the other,” he said. “We’ve been lucky to have the same gentleman at our last two events. He sets up a small table and hand-rolls premium cigars. It’s really amazing to see and a definite must for cigar-lovers.”

There’s also live music both inside and outside throughout the event to keep you grooving all day long. 

“We are very lucky to have the same artists that performed at last year’s event,” Zuercher says. “The Root Diggers are an ebullient country/bluegrass string band, while Stephen Paul provides a thoughtful blend of modern and traditional country music.  Guests have really enjoyed both artists in the past, and we think the mix of styles really adds to the event.”

Plenty of seating and tables are available throughout, though people tend to keep moving through the event space, as there is so much to see and sample. 

“We want to allow guests to enjoy their own adventure through the dining room and beyond, however, there will be food, confections and a special dessert that are all specially crafted to pair with some of the selections from Four Roses Bourbon, including our hand-chosen barrel.”

Tickets are purposefully limited to keep the number of guests at a comfortable limit. 

“There won’t be crowds of people surging from tasting table to tasting table, and the din won’t be so loud that you can’t have a comfortable conversation with your friends,” he says. “The live music keeps the atmosphere sunny and sparkling, and the food and cocktails keep everyone happy.  It’s just a fantastic time.”

The intimacy of the event is unparalleled. 

“None of the other major bourbon events in the region will give guests the opportunity to interact directly with the bourbons they are tasting, and the distillers who craft them, in a personal and direct way, in such a premier setting,” he says. 

The event is slated for 1-4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 25, at The Caramel Room at 1600 N. Broadway in St. Louis. VIP entrance begins at 12:30 p.m. and includes a private tasting seminar and hors d’oeuvres. 

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