Home Cover Story Bottled and Bonded: Cheers to Lexington’s inaugural BourbonCon

Bottled and Bonded: Cheers to Lexington’s inaugural BourbonCon

“Bourbon does for me what the piece of cake did for Proust.”
-Walker Percy

Proust had his tea and madeleines, Kentucky has bourbon and branch. 

With national bourbon day a long way off, Lexington’s first-ever BourbonCon is stepping in to fill the void with two wintry days devoted to all-things-bourbon at Lexington’s Griffin Gate Marriott. 

The lineup of weekend speakers include Geoffrey Zakarian, Beth Burrows, Pat Heist, Wally Dant, Chris McCarron, Sean Edwards, Myra Bargainer and more.

Affectionately known as GZ to many, throughout a career spanning more than three decades, Geoffrey Zakarian has made his mark as a chef restaurateur known for sophisticated taste and style. An accomplished chef, host and culinary consultant, Zakarian has presided over some of the country’s top kitchens, traveling the world for new inspiration to marry with his classical training and techniques in a lifelong effort to deliver paramount hospitality experiences.

His attention to detail, from the kitchen to the dining room, has helped re-shape how Americans from coast-to-coast entertain, eat, and feel when they sit together around a table. Outside the restaurant world, Zakarian is focused on bringing entertainment to food enthusiasts at home. He’s known for The Kitchen, Chopped, Iron Chef America on Food Network, and as an author Town/Country; My Perfect Pantry; Cast Iron Cooking: The Dutch Oven; and best-seller The Family That Cooks Together.

Myra Bargainer, MD, is the co-founder and CEO of Paul Sutton Bourbon®. As the seventh generation of a distilling family, Myra was determined to not let her family’s mash recipe get lost with time, years after her grandfather’s passing. Myra, a renowned oncologist, took a break from her medical career to raise her young children, and in the midst, revived the family business. 


Beth Burrows is an American Whiskey Ambassador for the James B. Beam Distilling Company, who utilizes her broad spirits education, industrybackground, and continued community involvement to help cultivate an unpretentious environment in the world of whiskey, starting right in the backyard of bourbon. She curates educational entertainment, participates in tasting panels, and helps develop new products. She was recently named as the D&I Chair for The Bourbon Society.

Michael Crisp is an author, award-winning filmmaker, and professional entertainer.


Chris McCarron is a retired American Thoroughbred Horse Racing Hall of Fame jockey, known for six Triple Crown Victories at the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes, along with nine Breeders’ Cup victories including Classic, Sprint, Distaff, Juvenile, and Turf. He is currently a member of the Kentucky Derby Museum, The Jockey Club, and The Jockeys’ Guild. One of his goals is to establish a world-class jockey and racing school in Lexington, Kentucky.

Marc Therrien is the Executive Chef and Managing Director of Keeneland Hospitality.





  • Vendor/Distillery booths open at 1PM
  • Griffin’s Liquor Vault 2PM (Liquor store featuring official BourbonCon partner products)
  • Resort Activities begin 3PM (Live entertainment, games, spa discounts, and more!)
  • VIP Lounge opens 3PM
  • Jake’s Cigars 5PM-9PM (Premium Hand-Rolled Cigar Station)
  • Friday Discussion topics start at 3PM – Bourbon 101, Bourbon myths, Beth Burrows(Beam Suntory), Pat Heist(Wilderness Trail), Wally Dant (Monk’s Road), Freddy(Buffalo Trace) – much more to come.
  • Welcome Reception 6PM


  • Vendor/Distillery booths open at 10AM
  • VIP Lounge Opens 11AM
  • Griffin’s Liquor Vault 11AM (Liquor store featuring official BourbonCon partner products)
  • Resort activities start at 11AM (Live entertainment, games, spa discounts, and more!)
  • Jake’s Cigars 12PM-4PM (Premium Hand-Rolled Cigar Station)
  • Saturday Discussion topics start at 10AM – Geoffrey Zakarian – Q&A, 11:30AM cooking demo, 1 PM cocktail competition, Chris McCarron Hall of Fame Jockey, New Riff Brand Ambassador, Sean Edwards(Fresh Bourbon), Myra Barginear(Paul Sutton), and more
  • Bourbon Dinner Experience 6PM

    This article appears on pages 8-9 of the January 2023 issue of Ace. To subscribe, click here.