Laura had the fire going when I got home and that got me to thinking about cooking out, eating under the stars and this unusual cocktail. It’s a bit of a weird one, to be sure and I don’t know if it’s going to work, but just because we may crash and burn, well that’s not gonna stop me from trying. So join me now, as we stand and make the BBB-Q Cookout.
The first time I saw this drink, I just skimmed right by. When it popped up again, I read it and was intrigued by the preparation, but wrote it off, again. I couldn’t quit thinking about its finish though, the “hook”. So, here we are, making it. This is a riff on a drink, created, if the internet is to be believed, by Tom Fischer and Steve Dennison for the Beer, Bourbon and Barbecue Festival circuit. The name is an obvious nod summer weekends firing up the grill, and it uses some of my favorite ingredients, when it comes to grilling Bourbon, Beer and Captain Rodney’s BBQ Sauce. Yeah, you read that right, we are doing a cookout in a glass. Stick with me because the finish on this drink is just stupid cool. Let’s make it.
Their recipe calls for making BBQ water in quantity, but it is super easy to do in your tins. Add 1/2 an ounce of BBQ sauce to your small tin, I used Captain Rodney’s Traditional Southern Style BBQ Sauce, to that add 1/2 an ounce of water and give it a good stir with a barspoon. Add 2 drops of hickory smoke bitters, sorry, I went homemade on this one, but Crude Bitters out of NC has a great Sea Salt and Smoke that would work here; 1/2 an ounce of fresh squeezed orange juice, 1 ounce of honey whiskey, I went Blackback Honey Rye from Virginia’s Silverback Disitillery, because we stumbled across their place taking the back roads on the way to visit the in-laws for Thanksgiving and it is as lovely as the hills it is made in; and 1 1/2 ounces of Hudson Baby Bourbon Whiskey, cause I just love it’s corn forward bite. Add ice and shake it up, probably to the tune of Sturgill Simpson’s “Remember to Breathe”, more drinks should be made to his music, seriously. When your tins get good and cold, double strain into something you’d serve a beer in, if that’s a frosty mug, fine, if it’s one of these vaguely tulip-y things, that works too. I want you to do what you want here, I am tired of making decisions this week, so step up and take part in your beverage. Did I hear someone in the back sheepishly say, “I was told there would be beer…” Well, hold your horses, we aren’t finished yet. Pop the top on something you like, I’d suggest a wheat beer here. Some folks calls it a hefeweizen, I call it a wheat beer, uh, huhmmm. Take about 1/4 of that beer and pour it into your tins, and give it a dry shake. Be aware, that shaking this beer in a closed container is going to build up pressure, so hold on tight and take care when opening, as long as you didn’t put half the beer in there it shouldn’t overflow, but there will be a pop. A satisfying pop and a creamy frothy head of shaken beer. Grab a spoon and ladle that on top of the drink. Yeah, you heard right, the beer component is that lovely head of aromatic garnish.
Take moment to marvel at this one. It looks like a beer. Raise it to your mouth. It smells like a beer. Take a sip. That’s not a beer, but it is oh so nice. The wonderful aroma from the head, combines perfectly with the bite of corn from the whisky and the sweet, spicy top note of the honey rye, all balanced by that familiar BBQ Sauce base and a hint of smoke. Granted, it is not for everyone, but this is a surprisingly good drink. After the first sip, I was unimpressed, but then I found myself wanting more. As my grandpa would say, “It has a bit of a more-ish taste to it.” I always heard that as a “moorish” taste, which caused a bit of confusion for me at the dinner table, as I considered Othello and why Pa would say the pie tasted like a Mediterranean Muslim dish. I was a curious and intelligent child but in many ways so very not-smart. This is a pretty good example of most of my childhood and the difference in learning from reading about things and actually having experiences. Of course, I didn’t admit that I was out of my depth and didn’t understand what he was saying. I just nodded and played along, attempting to appear wise and in the know. I still do that, because there are some lessons I just can’t seem to learn.
There you go, a damned fine drink that goes against most of what I have been told in life. Conventional wisdom would imply that since you taste the beer before whiskey, this drink is pretty risky, but what do they know anyway. I do kind of love this one, probably for the head fake as much as for the unique flavor. I like it when people do something different, when they throw out the rulebook and create something new. That’s where innovation comes from. From looking at something, anything and saying, let’s do it better. For asking, why is it always done that way? Who decided that? I spent the better part of my day looking at how our business operates and asking, why? When you look back, it is depressing how many decisions you make without meaning to. A lot of how you approach your daily life, your work, your relationships comes down to going with the flow. There are so many things we do a certain way, because we just sort of fell into that. When you take a moment to stop and look, to ask why, you might find there are better ways. Who am I kidding, you will find better ways to do things. How could you not? What I am trying to say is, be intentional. Do things on purpose. Not because “that’s how we’ve always done them”, not because “that’s how they taught me”, but because you have decided that this is the best way or at least the best way we can do it right now. There is always room for improvement and sometimes it takes a while, get along until you can do better. Take the time, find a way. It’s worth it. You may still make mistakes, but at least they will be honest. You will have made a decision for good or ill, and that beats the hell out of going with the flow, if you can stand it. It’s hot out there, y’all be cool. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.