Bourbon & BBQ – Pulled Pork

Is there a better match than Bourbon & BBQ? When asked to pair Lexington Bourbon with a perfect bite of food for a Tasting Panel Magazine

Tasting Panel SF Speed Tasting May 2015 (2)

event to be held at the James Beard Nominated Trick Dog in San Francisco, my heart leapt.  I pictured tasting batch after batch of pulled pork with bourbon. And that is just what happened. I tried many, many recipes and methods (marinades, dry rubs, wet sauces, oven roasting vs crock pot) and want to share the results with you! Watch the video here….

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When you cook with alcohol you want to choose flavors that mirror your spirit or ones that contrast. For example, key lime pie with Grand Marnier whipped cream would mirror each others’ flavors, whereas chocolate cupcakes with bourbon frosting would be a contrast.

I finally settled on a classic southern rub and a barbecue recipe to highlight out the flavors of the bourbon. Lexington Bourbon as it is an approachable classic bourbon that is grain forward with caramel, vanilla-spice, and a high rye, peppery middle. The finish is nutty with a hint of smoke and paprika. I wanted a recipe to highlight those qualities and I found it! And the judges from Tasting Panel Magazine agreed! I started with a dry rub based on the famous Memphis Dust recipe, and then altered it to accentuate the Lexington by substituting smoked salt and smoked paprika for their un-smoked counterparts. Then I added vanilla, either ½ pod, split open with seeds and pod added to the sauce or vanilla extract.

The sauce is a tweaked classic barbecue sauce (you could use your favorite store brand and add in the extras for a shortcut). The sugar is removed to allow for the addition of apricot preserves, which complement the marzipan/nutty notes of the Lexington. Yes, we’re cooking with Bourbon! And orange juice is added to soften the spicy notes and heat. If you do like your barbecue sauce on the sweet side, add in some maple syrup – a natural companion to bourbon.

If you don’t want to suffer in the summer heat, the smoky additions in this barbecue recipe give you some of the flavor of grilling while offering the convenience of crock pot cooking. There is nothing quite like the smokiness and flavors of grilling, sometimes you don’t have a grill (I don’t) and even if you do, crockpots are easy, and your home will smell amazing!.



3.5 lbs. Pork (Boston Butt)*
4 slices Smoked Bacon *


Dry Ingredients:

5 t Brown Sugar*
2 t Smoked Paprika*
1.5 t Dried Ground Garlic*
1.5 t Ground Black Pepper*
1 t Dried Ground Ginger*
1 t Dried Ground Onion*
0.5 t Dried Rosemary*
0.25 t Dried Ground Mustard*
2 t Smoked Salt

Wet Ingredients:

1/2 c. Lexington Bourbon
1/2 c. Orange Juice*
1/2 c. Water
1/4 c. Ketchup*
5 oz. Apricot Preserves*
4 T Apple Cider Vinegar*
1 t Vanilla Extract*


Sauté the bacon till browned and remove from the pan with a slotted spoon. While sautéing the bacon, combine all dry ingredients together, mixing completely. In an additional bowl, combine all wet ingredients, combining thoroughly. Next, brown the pork in the bacon grease, occasionally turning till browned on all sides.

Add the pork and bacon to a crock pot. Sprinkle all sides of the pork with dry ingredients, adding all dry ingredients to the slow cooker. Then pour in your wet ingredients. Cover and allow to cook on high at least 6 hours.

After 6 hours, or up to 8, remove the meat and set aside. If you have a lot of grease in the cooking liquid, strain off with a spoon, such as by lowering a ladle into the pot until the ladle rim falls just beneath the surface of the floating oil so that the spoon fills with the fat. Discard this excess fat. Wearing food preparation gloves pull apart the pork and remove any large pieces of fat or connective tissue that have not broken down. Return the pork to the sauce and stir to combine. Can be served now or kept warming an additional several hours.