By Richard Thomas
Whiskey and barbecue often seem to be made for each other, something already well understood here at The Whiskey Reviewer. Yet even among enthusiasts of both Southern staples, just how close the relationship can be is sometimes missed, but not by urban barbecue pioneer Adam Perry Lang.
“Whiskey is liquid barbecue,” says Lang. “The elements you’ll find in a good whiskey are interchangeable with good barbecue.”
Those elements are the sweetness and smokiness, common to both Kentucky bourbon and Tennessee whiskey, which would explain why so many of the big whiskey brands have barbecue sauces. Yet to these sauces usually have very little actual whiskey content in them, which is why Lang recommends doing a little work in the kitchen and using such sauces only as a base.
Lang’s Dickel Barbecue Sauce
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup honey
1 cup George Dickel No. 12 Whiskey
3 cups barbecue sauce
Combine the vinegar, honey, and whiskey in a pan, and cook over medium heat until the alcohol is cooked off. Then add the barbecue sauce, and simmer for a least 10 minutes.
Beyond using the sweet and smoky aspects of whiskey to enhance barbecue sauce, Lang warns against going overboard and putting whiskey in everything, such as side items. In his opinion, whiskey is best used in sweet dishes, especially those that rely on brown sugar, such as baked beans. Another good use for whiskey in a barbecue accompaniment is for a desert, like a cobbler.
Past adopting whiskey as a cooking ingredient, Lang says of whiskey and barbecue pairings, “it sells itself, literally.”