New life at the old Taste of Bourbon
They say that you can’t be all things to all people, but you can still try.
Bourbon Bar & Grill in Hanover is a biker bar, true. They’ve got beer and bourbon and wings and pool. In summer, the patio turns into a standing-room-only biker joint, and the parking lot is lined with Harleys – the only motorcycle any self-respecting York area biker would ride.
They even have bike night on Thursdays, when you can get Yuengling drafts for just two bucks. (If you don’t happen to have a Harley, just wear black leather and act cool.)
Or you could just go for the wings, because Bourbon Bar & Grill is a top-notch wing joint.
“Without a doubt, the wings are the most popular thing we serve,” says Megan Trimmer, who is co-owner with Chuck Messersmith. “We have almost 20 different sauces.”
These are big, juicy jumbo wings – not those wimpy wings with no meat. At Bourbon Bar & Grill, people come for the wings like they’re on a quest, looking for huge, meaty, tender wings that require you to roll up your sleeves and order extra napkins.
The secret’s in the sauce, of course.
The sauce that gets the most raves is the Mark Sauce. You can thank a guy named Mark for the inspiration. It seems Mark couldn’t make up his mind between the sweet chili sauce and the pineapple habanero, so he suggested putting the two together.
They thought he was crazy at first, but Mark knew what he was doing. Not only did he prove that the customer is always right, but he managed to get his wing sauce creation printed right on the menu. Now everybody enjoys the spicy, sweet sauce and asks for the Mark Sauce by name.
With well over a dozen options, you may have just as much trouble deciding as Mark did – so maybe they’ll name a sauce for you, too.
Bourbon Bar & Grill is also a bourbon bar. (Obviously.)
They have fine sipping bourbons, including Four Roses, Blanton’s, Basil Hayden’s, Maker’s Mark, Woodford Reserve, Jim Beam and Buffalo Trace. They even use bourbon in their wings (with the bourbon barbecue sauce) and the bourbon melt sandwich, with slow-cooked bourbon barbecue chicken, sliced ham, smoked bacon and cheese on Texas toast.
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There’s a full lineup of draft and craft beers from local, national and international breweries. Among the regional beers on tap are Hanover’s own Aldus Brewing, Evolution from Salisbury, Md., Black Cowgirl Double IPA from South County Brewing in Fawn Grove and, of course, the pride of Pottsville – Yuengling. Plus, there are about 50 options in bottles.
Bourbon Bar & Grill has a laid-back vibe. It’s the kind of place where you can just kick off your biker boots and relax. It also has many entertainment options. There’s a poolroom with a distinctive black and white checkered floor, plus darts and other games. There are wide-screen TVs all over the place, so you can watch the game from wherever you happen to be sitting.
There’s a stage in just about every room, with live bands every Saturday night and some Fridays. Area bands such as Bullet Method, Smokin’ Gunnz and Bridge Street pack the house on Saturdays. Fridays are usually acoustic nights, but Saturdays really rock, with heavy metal, straight-up rock ‘n’ roll and country.
Comedy nights feature up-and-coming comics, with some of the area’s best known comics taking the stage to test material with the local crowd. If it flies in Hanover, that’s a good barometer for the rest of the comedy circuit.
Just in case you’re thinking you can’t get an elegant meal at this down-home spot, how does Black Diamond steak with a stuffed baked potato sound? Or bourbon salmon with rice? The softly lit dining room is the perfect setting for prime rib, a variety of steaks and jumbo lump crab cakes.
There are also wine and cocktail options, like Tennessee Tea and the Chocolate Mint Julep, made with Godiva liqueur.
When Messersmith and Trimmer took over Bourbon Bar & Grill four years ago, it was known as Taste of Bourbon, with a heavy dose of New Orleans-inspired food.
“Here in Hanover, people don’t really go for New Orleans food, so we decided to emphasize the wings, burgers and Maryland crab cakes,” says Trimmer.
Despite the name change, there are still a few remnants of New Orleans on the menu, including chicken and shrimp jambalaya, bourbon glazed chicken and gumbo.
There are gator bites too, as in bites of deep-fried alligator meat. Some say it tastes like chicken, others compare it to calamari. It’s not for everyone, unless you have a sense of adventure and want to step outside your comfort zone.
“We have a lot of comfort food here,” says Trimmer, as in dishes that just plain make you feel good.
A hearty bowl of spicy gumbo with shrimp, andouille sausage, chicken and rice hits the spot, especially when it’s cold outside.
Most of the crowd is carnivorous; they like their meat. To keep them satisfied, the burger menu offers the Big Easy – a juicy char-broiled burger with onion strings, jalapeños, pepper jack cheese and bourbon barbecue sauce. There’s also the Boss Hog burger with pulled pork and coleslaw, the Chesapeake burger with an Old Bay-dusted crab cake on top and a gator burger topped with alligator meat, chipotle ranch and bleu cheese.
Never fear, vegetarians. There is something for you, too. The classic Caesar salad has fresh romaine hearts, Parmesan cheese and croutons. The roasted vegetable salad is a hit with veggie-lovers, combining slow-roasted sweet potatoes, red onion, baby carrots, peppers, green beans, tomatoes and mushrooms over fresh, healthy greens.
Located just off The Golden Mile in Hanover, Bourbon Bar & Grill dares to go where others fear to tread.
“I think it is possible to be all things to all people,” says Messersmith. “At least, that’s what we try to do.”
• 1080 Carlisle Street, Hanover; 634-5071
• Daily, 3 p.m.-2 a.m.