Guitar Aficionado

Four Racks and a Mule to Chase Away the Winter Blues

This dynamic duo from Duke Bourbon is just the thing to make winter spirits bright.
Image placeholder title

FOUR RACKS AND A MULE: A dynamic duo from Duke Bourbon to chase away the winter blues.

By Chris Gill

Bourbon and barbecue is one of the greatest pairings of all time, right up there with mac and cheese, Page and Plant, and silk and lace. While many view barbecue as an exclusively summertime thing, there’s really no reason why one can’t enjoy it year round, particularly when it is accompanied by a fine Bourbon cocktail.

In fact, I personally think that the coldest winter months are the perfect time to set fire to a few logs, burn them down to coals, and slowly roast or smoke a hearty hunk of meat to juicy perfection while enjoying a shot of Bourbon or two to keep the insides nice and warm.

John “The Duke” Wayne knew a thing or two about great Bourbon and barbecue, and he passed that know-how down to his son Ethan, who has introduced Duke Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, based on the flavors of his dad’s favorite Bourbons secretly stashed away in crates for decades before their discovery, as well as the Duke’s personal tasting notes.

Ethan Wayne and his business partners at Duke Spirits recently collaborated with chef Michael Laukert to create some food and cocktail recipes that go exceptionally well with Duke Bourbon and offered them to the public via their “Dining with the Duke” booklet.

From that recipe collection, we’ve put together our own pairing of the Duke Mule cocktail and Duke Bourbon heritage baby back ribs. The spice of the ginger beer and Bourbon along with the soothing cool of the lime makes this Mule an ideal partner for pork ribs infused with a caress of smoke from glowing hardwood coals. Their rib recipe calls for grilling the racks directly over hot coals, but we find that the recipe also works well when using traditional low and slow smoking techniques—one just has to endure the cold a little longer if doing this during the winter.

Duke Spirits recently hosted the “Dining with the Duke Challenge,” where participants submitted their own cocktail and food pairing recipes. The winner of the challenge will be announced in the April 2016 issue of Tasting Panel magazine. Anyone who loves Bourbon and great food is advised to check it out.

The Duke Mule
• 2 ounces Duke Bourbon
• Fresh-squeezed juice of 1/2 lime
• 100ml (half bottle) Fever Tree ginger beer

Place cubes of ice in copper cup or mug. Add Bourbon, lime juice, and ginger beer. Stir. Lime slice and/or mint leaf garnish optional.

Duke Bourbon Heritage Baby Back Ribs
• 4 racks (appx. 2 lbs each) baby back pork ribs
• 4 shots Duke Bourbon
• 3 Tbsp Kosher salt
• 2 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper
• 4 lemons cut in half
• Barbecue sauce

Use charcoal or hardwood logs such as oak, mesquite, cherry, or almond burned down to hot coals—no gas grill, please. Rub both sides of ribs with Bourbon and season with salt and pepper. Let meat rest and come to room temperature about 30-40 minutes before cooking. When coals are ready, place ribs on grate over medium heat. Turn ribs occasionally while cooking. Halfway through cooking, squeeze juice from ½ lemon on each side of the ribs. Cook for 1 to 1 ½ hours or until tender. During last 15 minutes, baste ribs with barbecue sauce of choice. Brush top surface of rack, move away from direct heat for 2-3 minutes to dry, turn over, and brush underside. Repeat process several times. Remove from heat and allow ribs to rest 10 minutes before serving. Cut into individual ribs and serve.

This is a feature from the JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016 issue of Guitar Aficionado magazine. For this story, plus features on plus features on Gary Clark Jr. and his guitar collection, Clash frontman Joe Strummer’s 1966 Fender Telecaster, Rudy Pensa’s collection of the world’s finest archtop guitars, the guitars and amps of Ratatat’s Mike Stroud, the vintage and boutique gear of Blackberry Smoke frontman Charlie Starr and much more, pick up the new issue of Guitar Aficionado at your newsstand, or online by clicking anywhere in this text.

Image placeholder title