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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Backyard Bourbon

I have fond memories as a child of watching food shows on TV. Some of my favorite chefs still to this day were those who could take “a little of this, a little of that” throw it in a bowl, or on the grill, and “BAM!” beautiful gourmet food. Until I had an appreciation for the finer things in life (booze), I didn’t realize how accurate these chefs were when they spoke of cooking times in measurements of drinks: boil this for about one beer. Finding an appreciation for beer, whiskey, and wine only has increased my cooking prowess. Sipping a cocktail while cooking exposes you to the flavors that will contrast and complement your food.

Ingredients for the Old Fashioned

• Rowan’s Creek Small Batch Bourbon (it has subtle sweetness and notes of fruit)
• Oranges (I chose large, ripe navel variety for the large amount of juicy flesh)
• Cherries (Black/Bing cherries work best)
• Angostura aromatic bitters
• Turbinado sugar (Sugar in the raw)


Slice the oranges in half, and then into roughly ½-inch thick slices. Remove the pits from the cherries; I suggest the method of pushing a straw through the center of the cherry on alternating sides until it pushes out, leaving a hole with which to skewer them. Skewer enough oranges and cherries to use one slice and two cherries per drink. Grill them just enough to put marks on them and thus caramelize the sugars. Muddle the fruit in a rocks style cocktail glass along with 1 teaspoon turbinado sugar and 1 dash bitters. Pack the glass with ice, pour approximately 1.5 ounces of bourbon over the top. Mix well, incorporating the fruit and whiskey completely.

Instructions for the Bourbon Glaze

Whisk together ½ ounce of bourbon, 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon of dark brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, and ¼ teaspoon of black pepper.

Ingredients for the Marinated Strip Skewer

• 1.5 lb. New York strip steak (roughly two steaks depending on size)
• One bottle of Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale (brewed by Alltech Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co.; available at Varsity Liquor, Schnucks, The Wine Tree, and other locations.)
• Zucchini
• Golden Delicious Apples
• Romaine hearts


When prepping your veggies/fruit, ideal size for skewering is ½-inch to ¾-inch cubes. Slice the strip steak into similar size chunks, and add a Cajun seasoning blend of your choice. Toss them in a Ziploc bag and pour a 12-ounce bottle of Kentucky ale in to marinate. They should marinate for at least an hour; I typically let mine sit overnight. Alternate the veggies and steak on your skewers. While the skewers are grilling (five minutes per side for medium-rare) brush them with the bourbon glaze, reserving some to serve with the final product. Cut the romaine hearts in half, drizzle the cut surface with olive oil, and grill for roughly one minute. Serving the skewered meat/veggies on romaine adds a fantastic layer of texture and slight smoky flavor to the overall dish. 

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