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Bourbon with steak


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Does anyone out there have a favorite bourbon or Tennessee whiskey to enjoy with steak? Does it change if the steak in charcoal vs. gas grilled? Alternatively, any American whiskey that you have found goes poorly with steak?

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I virtually never drink bourbon WITH a meal, but I frequently have it ON a steak. I almost always marinate beef with bourbon -- usually Old Forester 86, because it's fairly inexpensive but still pretty good bourbon.

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When we go out to party with friends. I watch to see what everybody drinks. Not that I am counting or prying into thier life but I just take note what bourbon they choose, how they drink it and when. I have noticed that when we are at a big "sit down meal" or grilling steaks for a home picnic, they alomost always drink the bourbon before and after the meal. This happens every time. Not one of my friends or family will drink their bourbon, "during" a big meal.

Hmmmmmmmmmm...blew my cover...now when I go out with my friends they will know that I am "REALLY" watching them grin.gif

Another thing I noticed, I was curious to see the results. During the bourbon festival my special guest was Craig Beam... I "grabbed" him and escorted him to the center of Gazebo (Straighbourbon.com party headquarters) to introduce him to everyone. Before I started, I asked Craig, did he want a drink? (On the table at the Gazebo, there looked to be at least a "jillion" bottles of bourbon available for tasting)

Craig's first reflex was to drink grin.gif "HIS BOURBON" grin.gif but I asked him to try something different and tell me his opinion. He looked me dead in the eye...and scanned the table for a bit. He said, give me some of that Pappy. I've been wanting to try that for awhile. I fixed him a pour (neat) he swirrled it...sniffed...then tasted...

I could tell by the look in his eye, he like it. His response was, It's pretty good stuff...Then...somebody stole him from me. I didn't get to see him again blush.gifgrin.gif

grin.gifgrin.gif Bettye Jo grin.gifgrin.gif

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Dave_in_Canada

Enjoy your bourbon while you're grilling. Try a dry woody brand like Knob Creek. And if the BBQ or weather is hot, drink it with ice or lots of branch water. Then make sure you've used a good bourbon BBQ sauce like the Elijah Craig, Evan Williams, Jim Beam, Wild Turkey or Buffalo Trace (all of whom have their own packaging etc.) and enjoy your meal with a cold beer or red wine. But I wouldn't know about the Steak part as I haven't had steak in over 20 years. How about bourbon and tofu. Anyone? wink.gif

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I must be in a minority on this. I have enjoyed for many years the taste of a good steak along with either JD black, Gentleman Jack, or, occasionally, Wild Turkey 101. Relatively unconsciously, I developed a pattern of a bite of steak, a very small sip of whiskey, and then one to two more bites of steak.

Thanks for the marinating tip. I have done the whiskey marinade before, but I think my choices may have been suboptimal.

As for whiskey during grilling, before the meal, after the meal or during the meal...luckily, these choices are not mutually exclusive to the remaining ones!

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I like a rye bourbon for red meat typically...WT, OF, OGD. However, I had a great 10 year Dickel with a lamb burger recently. Nice match.

As for whiskey during grilling, before the meal, after the meal or during the meal...luckily, these choices are not mutually exclusive to the remaining ones

I agree. I'm hoping to plan a nice dinner this summer with bourbon used in about everything, marinade, side dishes, dessert. Should be fun!
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  • 4 weeks later...
cool.gif It must be a Va thing. I drink Bourbon and Coke (not Pepsi or any other impersonator)while cooking and eating heavy meats. I say it aids in digestion but the truth is, it's what I like. My last drink of the night or during the quiet times is only time I qualify as a Straight Bourbon Drinker (well maybe a little ice). It's a great way for me to slow down and coast to a stop. drink.gif
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angelshare

It has been ages since I mixed with soda, but years ago I used to mix with ginger ale. Consequently, I could imagine how an ice cold soda spiked with bourbon could taste quite pleasant out by a hot grill.

I say we're in good company regarding bourbon with a meal:

"If you've never had baked country ham, sliced thin, wedged between beaten biscuits and washed down with Old Fitz - honey, you've never lived!"

-Helen Cromwell

toast.gif

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"If you've never had baked country ham, sliced thin, wedged between beaten biscuits and washed down with Old Fitz - honey, you've never lived!"

-Helen Cromwell

There you go. Gillman and I had this conversation last weekend. Bourbon really goes well with anything very savory and flavorful. It's a perfect match with country ham.

Is Helen Cromwell the "Dirty Helen" of Sally Van Winkle's book? (I suppose I could go into the next room and look.)

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angelshare

Yes, you are (as usual) correct. I was revisiting the Van Winkle book the other day, and this quote is printed in large type in the margin of page 111. It jumped out at me as I was flipping through the pages. I thought, wow - that sounds great! According to "Dirty Helen," I still have not "lived," but Old Fitzgerald, probably BIB, with ham biscuits is now on my list of things to try.

Earlier in this thread it seemed as though most responders didn't really have much enthusiasm for actually enjoying whiskey during a meal, so I thought I was in a small minority. Since I don't drink wine, whiskey seems to be a good complement with a meal for me. In my humble opinion, steak is probably the quintessential "whiskey meat," especially if it is charcoal grilled; however, I have had some enjoyable combinations with ham, salmon and tuna. Even though I'm partial to "woodier" whiskey, I think younger whiskeys go better with fish.

Though not a bourbon, I once tried Copper Fox with pork chops. It was an interesting and not unpleasant combination, but I doubt I'll repeat it frequently.

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Many times I have enjoyed a thick filet mignon accompanied with a Pappy 20yo. In fact, this is one of my favorite meals. I think to enjoy bourbon while dining you must match the bourbon to the food you are eating. A nice, well aged, full bodied, slightly oaky bourbon pairs well with most red meats. On the other hand, a nice spicy, slightly hot OGD pairs well with a plate of nachos or buffalo wings yum.gif

Actually, bourbon is my drink of choice for really spicy foods. You scientists correct me if I'm wrong, but capsaicin, the chemical that gives peppers their heat, is soluble in alcohol, not water, and the higher the ABV of your drink, the quicker the sting subsides. I like drinking beer with spicy foods, but beer is mostly water. I remember one night after consuming some habanero chili I thought I was going to die shocked.gif till I took a half a shot of GTS and rinsed it around in my mouth drink.gif. There was an initial sting hot.gif from the addition of the bourbon, but in a few moments most of the heat from the chili had dissipated

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Combining whiskey and food, where whiskey is an accompaniment to the meal or used in the cooking, is a relatively new idea; this is so in Britain, certainly. Whisky Magazine from the U.K. has an ongoing series where contributor Martine Nouet, appropriately a Frenchwoman, suggests interesting ideas to combine cuisine and whisky. Until recently in Britain whisky was regarded as something to be taken between meals as a bracer or tonic, or before bedtime. This made sense in the cool damp climate of Northern Britain before the modern economy when most people worked outdoors and or worked and lived in buildings not centrally heated. People also engaged in strenuous outdoor sports such as shooting and riding and the silver whisky or brandy flask was a stand-by of such affairs. Scotch whisky was not even served before meals (as a cocktail U.S.-style) until recently and even then it hasn't really taken on. A few years ago I ordered whisky in the Reform Club in London before dinner. The rest of my party, all English, remarked that whisky before dinner was unusual and normally one would have sherry or maybe gin and tonic. Probably today (albeit only three years later) the scotch aperitif, and likely the equally U.S.-inspired "glass of white wine", is more acceptable than it was. But the point being, whisky was and is not consumed during meals in Britain. As for all "rules" there are established exceptions. One is to drink whisky with haggis during Robert Burns dinners. Another is, or was, to drink scotch and water with the cooked English breakfast (the full affair of eggs, bacon or other meat, mushrooms, grilled tomato, toast, etc.), no doubt taken at leisure at mid-day on a lazy Sunday.

I am not as familiar with practices in the U.S. but would think the situation, except for the pre-dinner cocktail, is similar, i.e., whiskey generally is not consumed with meals. There are no doubt exceptions here too, e.g., I have heard some Southerners speak of "Kentucky tea", being a cold whiskey highball taken before and with meals. No doubt many families or regions have their own particular practices in regard to food and whiskey. The cocktail party was and is an exception in that sufficient food is (or should) be served to help absorb the alcohol, although a cocktail party, even the best, is not a sit-down dinner of course.

Like a lot of practices, they change with the times and fashions. It is a good idea to regard whiskey and food in the same breath in part because eating food with whiskey tends to encourage a more responsible attitude to drinking. Second, many interesting combinations can be thought of and this seems largely a "do it yourself" area where personal inventiveness sets the tone. Personally, I find more and more a cocktail or two before dinner is enough and I like to eat the food plain, but I can see that many whisky and food combinations (Martine Nouet has many good ideas) can be fun at least for special occasions.

Chuck and I were talking specifically about ham and whiskey and in fact, the combination seems generally a good one.

Gary

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angelshare

Combining whiskey and food, where whiskey is an accompaniment to the meal or used in the cooking, is a relatively new idea;

Thank you both for your very interesting and informative comments. I must admit that I was not taught the practice of drinking whiskey with a meal, nor have I really read specifics about it. I don't even really remember when I started doing it with regularity. At home, I probably have whiskey during a meal every one to two weeks, usually coinciding with a choice to grill part of the evening meal. If we go out to dinner, though, I almost always get a whiskey to enjoy during the meal.

I never thought about whiskey as a complement to bacon. Might make an interesting brunch experiment sometime.

I haven't been there for a couple of years, but a local Chinese restaurant carries both WT 101 and Old Grand Dad 86. I found that both of these went okay with their sesame chicken.

After reading all of your wonderful insights, however, I am still left with one question: Am I avante garde or gauche? grin.gif

toast.gif

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Thanks for your reply. Eating steak with a bourbon cocktail or highball is certainly not gauche. It may, however, be avant garde. What is the avant garde but people who do what seems right for them (without slavish regard to the received practice or current fashion) only to find in a short while that they have set the tone and others follow them..?

In fact, I believe the current "whiskey renaissance" (phrase courtesy Chuck Cowdery's excellent current Bourbon newsletter) is not due to anxious sub-editors working in big city cubbyholes trying to create the next big thing in drink (much less whiskey copywriters, ad consultants, etc.). Rather, we can look to the activities of consumers or writers who are interested in something they view as genuine and pursue their interest to the point (sometimes) of making others take notice. I believe Jim Butler's great little whiskey forum right here has had something to do with the aforesaid renaissance, in fact. It takes sometimes only a few mouths' buzzing to create, or reinforce a budding, interest; others will try something different who are not captive to common notions or silly prejudices.

In food, I learned a lot from the late English writer Elizabeth David. Her luminous works are still widely available in Penguin, and I recommend them highly. Ditto the late British food historian Alan Davidson (especially his recent Oxford Companion To Food). In drink (everything except wine and brandy), a key influence was Michael Jackson, especially his 1988 World Guide To Whisky which is a classic, full-stop. Elizabeth David wrote an essay in the early 1960's called "Whisky In The Kitchen" (reproduced in the collection, "An Omelette and a Glass of Wine") which explained in her droll inimitable style why there was no reason not to use scotch instead of brandy to flame dishes and otherwise in cookery. All these people followed their own lights (with the benefit of knowledge, experience and reading, of course). They did what they thought appropriate in their chosen area of interest or work whether it had precedent or no. They encouraged me to be intrepid in the areas that interest me, but (as with the old saw that white wine goes with fish and red with meat) much of the received wisdom is valid too. Some experiments just won't work.

The idea of drinking diluted whisky with a brunch-type breakfast is one of those old practices that has a certain logic to me, I intend to try it soon (on a Sunday!). Come to think of it, Kentucky ham and (genuine) English bacon resemble each other quite a bit. (This is an example, I believe, of the old British influence still at work in the South. Another example: the biscuits I had at Tom Pig's in Bardstown recently which recalled certain scones and griddle breads of modern Scotland). So the Bourbon whiskey that is the renown of Old Kentucky and indeed America surely would accompany well its best cured meats, just as scotch matches up well to British ham and bacon. In fact, that is what Helen Cromwell said apropos Old Fitz and ham on biscuit (there's a good old English name, Cromwell) as per one of the current threads on this board; she figured it out a while ago, evidently, and wasn't shy to say so.

Gary

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Actually, what is served ubiquitously at parties in Kentucky is country ham on tiny buns, about 1 1/2" in diameter, as opposed to beaten biscuits. There usually is some mustard present, but it is quite unnecessary. I believe the salt-cured ham tradition came to Kentucky via Virginia so I would expect it is available in your area. One traditional way of fixing country ham is to boil the slices in coffee, which then becomes the base for red eye gravy.

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angelshare

Many times I have enjoyed a thick filet mignon accompanied with a Pappy 20yo.

Thanks, Jeff, for letting me know that an individual with your bourbon expertise and enthusiasm finds bourbon and steak such a natural combination. Although I would like to think I'm avant garde (you're too kind, Gary), I like validation as much as the next guy!

But, my real question is: If I ever happen to pass through your town around supper time and pick up a couple of nice filets to grill, will you break out the Pappy 20? lol.gif

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Thanks, Jeff, for letting me know that an individual with your bourbon expertise and enthusiasm...

I will admit to being very enthusiastic toast.gif

If I ever happen to pass through your town around supper time and pick up a couple of nice filets to grill, will you break out the Pappy 20?

But of course laugh.gif But you better hurry, I am halfway through my last bottle and there is no more 20 to be found in these parts frown.gif As a consolation, if you bring a slab of pork ribs I'll pony up some Eagle Rare 17yo yum.gif

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Dave, somehow you just reminded me of one of the greatest meals of my life.

I can't remember the name of the restaurant, but it was a cellar in downtown Cincinnati. It was connected to a highly regarded French restaurant upstairs and the cellar restaurant was supposed to be a British-style affair.

The meal was thick, grilled pork chops served with baked sweet potatoes (or, yams, if you prefer). This was accompanied by huge mugs of Bass pale ale. drink.gif Awesome!

Tim

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angelshare

I'm glad I fascilitated a fond memory!

Your post reminded me that I'm still looking for the perfect bourbon + pork combo. Honestly, so far, JD is the best pork + American Whiskey combo in my opinion.

toast.gif

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Inspired by this post, I went to High on Rose and ordered their double thick pork chop and accompanied it with a WT101 Manhattan (or two). Nice combo. I have some ribeyes in the freezer and a buffalo roast. what do you think we go good with buffalo, Stagg?

Ed

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angelshare

Never had Stagg, and have only had buffalo twice that I can recall in 10 years. With that disclaimer, for some reason, EC 18 came to mind when I read your post.

In any case, let me know how it turns out!

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Ed,

I would thnk that Stagg would be just about the perfect bourbon for buffalo. I've had buffalo steak with Blanton's, Woodford, and WT KS. The meat was prepared the same way each time, and trying different bourbons was intentional.

In my opinion, the Blanton's was the hands down winner, the WT second place, and the Woodford ruined the meat(so I slammed it, ordered a Blanton's neat, and carried on.) The meat was served in a red wine reduction sauce and Blanton's flavor profile just fit the presentation perfectly. Buffalo steak has quite a bit of flavor no matter how it is prepared, and I would think any higher proof bourbon would pair well with it.

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Yes, that was it. It was about 20 years ago, so it was difficult to remember, but you nailed it. Thanks!

Tim

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