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Gourmet Shot: Spiked Barbecue Sauce

It may not be warm enough to fire up the grill just yet, but we have spring fever and it’s never too early to start perfecting your barbecue sauce. This summer we want our chicken and ribs to be really finger-licking-good, which means making sauce from scratch. For some advice, we called Chef Adam Perry Lang, barbecue champion, author of the new book BBQ 25 (out in May) and owner of New York City’s Daisy May’s BBQ U.S.A.

We also have a secret weapon: bourbon. Sure, a glass of whiskey tastes pretty good with grilled meats, but it also “gives a sauce a depth of flavor,” says Perry Lang. Once the alcohol cooks off you’re left with the spirit’s rich woody and smoky notes. (Don’t try this with Scotch: The flavor of the liquor, according to the chef, is too strong.) Try Perry Lang’s recipe (see below) for his “go-to sauce” on chicken, pork or beef. He suggests using your favorite bourbon. Not a problem since, as he points out, “it’s typically around when you’re cooking barbecue.”


Bourbon BBQ Sauce

Bourbon Barbecue Sauce

Contributed by: Adam Perry Lang


  • .5 cup Canola or vegetable oil
  • 5 Garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 Medium sweet white onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 Green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt, plus additional as needed
  • .25 cup Bourbon
  • 3 tablespoons Chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon Coarsely ground fresh black pepper
  • .25 teaspoon Ground allspice, plus additional for seasoning
  • .25 teaspoon Ground cloves, plus additional for seasoning
  • 1 cup Firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 cups Water
  • 2 cups Ketchup
  • .5 cup Unsulfured blackstrap molasses
  • .5 cup Yellow mustard
  • .5 cup Apple cider vinegar, plus additional as needed
  • 2 teaspoons Hot sauce
  • .5 cup Apricot preserves
  • 1 Jalapeno chile, grated stopping before the seeds
  • Half a Granny Smith apple, grated


Pour the oil into a large saucepan and place over medium heat until it starts to shimmer. Stir in the garlic, onion, bell pepper and salt. Let cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened—about 10 minutes. Pour in the bourbon and cook until the alcohol has cooked off— about 5 minutes. (There will no longer be the strong smell of alcohol.) Combine the chili powder, black pepper, allspice and cloves and add the mixture to the pan. Let cook, stirring continuously, until fragrant—about 3 minutes. Stir in the brown sugar, water, ketchup, molasses, mustard, vinegar, hot sauce and apricot preserves. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir occasionally to be sure nothing sticks to the bottom and burns. Reduce to a simmer. Continue to simmer, stirring often, until thickened—about 45 minutes. Add the grated jalapeno and apple. At this point the sauce can be left chunky or blended in a blender (blend in small batches since it will be hot) or in a bowl using an immersion/stick blender until smooth. Season to taste with additional allspice, cloves, salt and vinegar.

This recipe is from Serious Barbecue. (Photos by David Loftus.)

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