Whack for my Daddy-O, Whack for my Daddy-O, there’s Whiskey in the Jar-O.
Fucking awesome song about a Highwayman betrayed by his lover and now butchered by numerous drunken twats on karaoke night.
I never saw myself as a man who drank shorts, my rugby background pretty much sealed my fate as a Guinness and a beer drinker but as I’ve been getting into the barbecue scene Whiskey drinking seems to be the done thing. Bourbon and cooking, true bliss. Why not. It’s just another step closer to becoming a Cowboy. And let me tell you, Red Bull may give you wings, but Whiskey gives you balls.
Whiskey, as well as being an excellent accelerant to destination: pissed, is also a dynamite ingredient for barbecue, being the alcoholic equivalent of salt, bringing out the flavour of the sea in seafood, the smokiness of smoked food, and sweetness in a dessert. Thanks to the global craft distilling revolution, there are about as many styles, flavours and variations of whisk(e)y as there are of wine.
I can tell you categorically, 100% from the bottom of my heart that despite having eaten A LOT of barbecue in my life, by far the TASTIEST thing I have ever eaten was a special order from West London Butchers, H.G.Walter. A honk of a Cote de Boeuf which had been wrapped in a muslin cloth, soaked in Woodford Reserve Bourbon for 35 days and left in their “aging chamber”, a refrigerated room with a wall of Himalayan salt bricks. You’ve undoubtedly heard the saying “the knife went through it like butter”, well this is the closest I have ever got to that experience. This has sealed my love for Woodford Reserve and I always make sure I have a bottle ready for special occasions.
I had a nice French rack of pork begging for the Weber with a Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Auchentoshan, Three Wood with a honey and bread crunchy crumb adapted from a James Martin recipe. It didn’t disappoint. Whisk(e)y is most definitely not reserved for sweet sticky rib sauces, there’s some downright classy barbecue to be had by including a wee dram.
Whilst we’re talking about classy I can’t leave without talking about Whisk(e)y cocktails. Enter, Salvatore Calabrese, well renowned Cocktail Connoisseur dubbed “The Maestro” and father of one of my closest childhood friends. What this man does not know about alcohol is simply not worth knowing. I was privileged to cater his 50th birthday party and as a thank you he went into his cellar and opened a 40 year old bottle of Port… just because.
He calls this Whiskey cocktail, “The Bourbon Pick-me-up”:
Pour 30 ml bourbon whiskey, 20 ml branca menthe, 20ml fresh lemon juice into a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
Shake. Strain into an 'old fashioned' glass, filled with ice.
Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.
Check out Salvatore’s website for a catalogue of Cocktail masterpieces. And while your at it take a look at my own Whisk(e)y recipes below and get involved for a jolly good time. Just don’t blame me for the hangover tomorrow.