Bourbon and barbecue go together like moonshine and mason jars. Go to any barbecue contest; you’ll find many pitmasters smoking meat over bourbon-soaked chips or barrel wood.
And now, bourbon is gracing menus in concert with regional barbecue flavors across the U.S. From ubiquitous bourbon sauces to inventive oyster toppers and egg rolls, this all-American couple is showing up in national chains and chef-driven restaurants alike.
Check out these eight dining destinations using flavors of bourbon and barbecue to add flair to their fare.
Fred’s Smokehouse, Clermont, Ky.
TRY: Devil’s Cut Pulled Pork
Yes, at Jim Beam’s main distillery you’ll find this pork barbecue dish, dripping in homemade bourbon barbecue sauce using its namesake Beam whiskey. Perfect after a tour!
Feast BBQ, Louisville, Ky., and New Albany, Ind.
Feast showcases some of Bourbon Country’s best bourbon cooking. Mop up your smoked meat in one of two Western Kentucky- style black barbecue sauces where bourbon is the star.
Willie’s Locally Known, Lexington, Ky.
TRY: Raw Oysters
This barbecue-centric music spot has bourbon coursing through its veins. Get the oysters and you’ll find bourbon mignonette that can be enjoyed by the spoonful.
Blind Box Barbecue, Shawnee, Kan.
TRY: Bourbon Baked Beans
If this place could legally serve an ounce of bourbon with everything, they probably would. Several bourbon-related menu items appear, but the winner is their sweet, tangy, and bourbon-rich baked beans.
Meadowsweet Restaurant, Brooklyn, N.Y.
TRY: Smoked St. Louis Ribs with Bourbon BBQ Sauce
Pork ribs drenched in a bourbon barbecue sauce that takes over three hours to prepare and includes coriander, mustard seed, cayenne, and many other sweet and savory herbs.
Rye, Leawood, Kan.
Try: Peel & Eat Bourbon BBQ Shrimp
This dish perfectly represents bourbon in cooking; it’s an accent without taking over. In preparing, executive chef John Brogan explains: “We dust the domestic gulf shrimp with our BBQ rub and sear them in a hot pan. We then deglaze the pan with bourbon and flame off the booze.”
The Broken Barrel Tavern, Palm Bay, Fla.
Try: BBQ Egg Rolls
Talk about fusion cuisine! The inventive egg rolls at this sports bar and house-smoked BBQ joint are like deep-fried sandwiches, complete with pulled rib meat, cole slaw, and bourbon BBQ. Pair them up with one of the 40 draughts or 300 bottled beers.
Try: BBQ Half Chicken
Executive chef Melanie Kurtz sprinkles bourbon liberally throughout the menu, starting with a 6-hour smoked half chicken slathered with smoked pineapple bourbon BBQ sauce. Save room for bourbon caramel banana pudding or a bourbon bacon brownie.