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Burgers and Bulleit – food matching with whiskey cocktails

17 April 2019

Boost your barbecue and pimp your fried chicken, because Bulleit Frontier Whiskey reckons it’s time to up your food-matching game with some delicious drinks


There are several modern frontiers, and among those that Bulleit Frontier Whiskey has been exploring is the matching of whiskey with food. American whiskey is the ideal partner for American cuisine, and there are various ways to take this to a new level.

This represents the coming together of two hot topics in the world of food and drink. American food is set to be among the key international cuisines that dominate in 2019. Meanwhile, American whiskey’s star continues to rise, with the value of on-trade sales up 4.2% this year.

There’s more to all this than the meeting of two growing trends, however. When it comes to actual flavours, these two American exports couldn’t be better suited. There’s an array of American dishes to choose from, such as grills, barbecue and staples of Americana like burgers and wings, and there’s a Bulleit serve to match each one.

‘There’s an opportunity to challenge the idea that you can only drink wine with food,’ says Bulleit brand ambassador Jenna Ba. ‘Bulleit offers a distinctively spicy taste, full of hints of vanilla, spice and pepper.’

It’s exactly these characteristics that make it the perfect partner for American food. ‘The whiskey brings a roundness, as well as a piquancy, to these dishes,’ she adds.

How you present these flavours depends entirely on your style of venue, and your take on American cuisine. Sometimes you don’t need anything more than a classic Boilermaker or hard shake (see box). On the opposite end of the spectrum though, there is plenty of opportunity to really explore these different combinations through cocktails.

‘You can add texture to a cocktail like the Old Fashioned by simply stirring it over sushi rice,’ suggests Ba. ‘And you can add complexities to a Whiskey Sour by adding the foam separately as a mousse, and exploring flavours like beetroot, pandan, smoked chilli and more.’

Another way to incorporate these complementary flavours starts in the kitchen. ‘Bulleit adds a special touch to marinades and sauces for American-style meat dishes, for the ultimate barbecue experience,’ explains Ba.

Bulleit already has plans to bring some of these ideas to various festivals this summer, including Download and Bloodstock, having teamed up with Red’s True Barbecue to create Bulleit Bourbon hot sauce, flamed and glazed food, and much more.

Next up? Keep an eye out for Bulleit’s big plans for Whiskey Sours and chicken wings. You heard it here first.

Southern cuisine and cocktails
Evans & Peel Detective Agency

If bourbon pairs perfectly with American food, then bourbon cocktails bring yet another dimension. One of the bars at the forefront of this concept is Evans & Peel in London, with its menu of Southern classics such as Texan chilli sausages, classic buffalo wings and St Louis cut pork ribs, basted with Bulleit Bourbon.

The bar’s Snake Oil cocktail, meanwhile, is made with Bulleit Rye, bringing a spicy dryness to the equation and creating a perfect foil for all three dishes. The rye, which is infused with saffron, is then mixed with absinthe and bay leaf syrup.

The savoury flavours in the cocktail amplify the barbecue flavours in the dish, while that dryness from the rye cuts through the fat in the ribs.

For further exploration, Evans & Peel offers guests a selection of bottled Bulleit cocktails, presented in a cigar box. Ordering these and a selection of dishes from the menu is a masterclass in bourbon-and-food matching.

Boilermaker matches
Dirty Bones

One of the appeals of American cuisine is its informality and lack of pretension, and sometimes the best way to match that is with an equally simple drinks serve.

The Mac Daddy at Dirty Bones combines a number of American classics, with a double brisket and dry-aged steak burger topped with not only pulled beef short rib, but mac and cheese as well, finished with an espresso-spiked BBQ sauce, and served in a seeded brioche.

Or there’s The Vegan Classic, containing a Moving Mountains plant-based burger with vegan cheese and vegannaise.

For either of these burgers, it’s hard to beat a beer and a shot of Bulleit as an accompaniment. The bourbon cuts through the fat, bringing rye spice and smoke to the table, while the sweetness from the corn content in the whiskey enhances the smokiness of the food.

Another classic from the Dirty Bones menu, chicken and waffles with maple syrup, deserves another indulgent classic – the Bulleit Hardshake. Here the sweetness of both the dish and the drink highlight the savoury elements of the match, not to mention the affinity between maple syrup and bourbon, resulting in the ultimate comfort-food combo.

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