Many spirits and alcoholic beverages are synonymous with the Southeast. There’s Kentucky bourbon and Tennessee whiskey, not to mention an abundance of craft breweries and distilleries scattered across the region. Luckily for groups, beverage tours and trails give travelers a taste of these unique Southern flavors—and culture too!

Like its name suggests, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail focuses on the bounty of bourbon in the Bluegrass State. For groups wishing to explore the trail, it’s recommended to plan out a route so driving times are not excessive, budgeting 90 minutes to tour and taste bourbons at all 37 distilleries. Some distilleries also offer restaurant service, including Star Hill Provisions at Maker’s Mark and Firehouse Sandwich Shop, which is inside the original 1930s firehouse at Buffalo Trace Distillery. For groups that want to combine culture and city life with a bourbon trail, the Urban Bourbon Trail in Louisville is perfect, with 32 participating bars, lounges, and restaurants serving local bourbon.

A tasting from Michter’s Fort Nelson Distillery at the Kentucky Bourbon Affair,
Credit: Kentucky Bourbon Trail

The Tennessee Whiskey Trail is a useful guide to the state’s most famous spirit varietal. Four big brands, including Jack Daniel’s, are produced here, but there are also many smaller whiskey producers that welcome visitors to their tasting rooms and distilleries. In Nashville, Corsair Distillery serves pizzas with its whiskey (and other spirits), allowing groups to relax after their tour of the premises. Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery, also in Nashville, was relaunched by two brothers in 2011 as an ode to their great-great-grandfather who founded their family’s distillery in 1860, bringing the business—and family recipes—full circle. In a private group experience, visitors taste four different spirits after a distillery tour.

The craft beer scene is flourishing in the United States, and Florida is no exception to the trend, boasting about 300 breweries. For easy access, Tampa Bay has a high concentration of breweries, and Brew Bus Brewing’s private bus tours can be highly customized for a group. In nearby St. Petersburg/Clearwater, the Gulp Coast Craft Beer Trail is home to 17 breweries with tap rooms.

Overflow Brewing Company Lego Taps,
Credit: Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater

Cocktail beverage tours are a dynamic and social way to get a group comfortable with one another, and perhaps even do some walking. Some also fold in local history, which is perfect for a group with a variety of interests. In Charleston, South Carolina, Revelry Tours’ Speakeasy Sagas Pub Crawl is also window into the city’s Prohibition past. In New Orleans, Louisiana, a cocktail tour such as Revelry Tours’ Crescent City Chronicles or Gray Line New Orleans’ Craft Cocktail Walking Tour will likely feature Sazerac, considered the city’s native cocktail even today. Your group can try this combination of cognac or whiskey with absinthe, sugar, and Peychaud’s bitters.

Written by Kristine Hansen

Main Image: Green Bench Brewing Co.; Credit: Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater