The relationship between alcohol and food can only be described as a mutually beneficial one.  Alcohol, in its wine, beer or liquor forms, is a great solvent when used in cooking and can bring out flavors that can’t otherwise be dissolved in oil or water.  Even when not part of a recipe, a well paired drink can compliment a meal by accenting primary flavors or elevating subtle ones.

For this challenge we agreed to try and give you the best of both worlds: a high potency drink to get your night started and a paired amuse-bouche.  The best part is that you won’t even have to provide ID to vote for your favorite: The East by Southeast Cocktail with Bourbon-Ginger BBQ Chicken Lollipops or the Red Stag Manhattan with Peppercorn Crusted Ribeye?

East by Southeast Cocktail with Bourbon-Ginger BBQ Chicken Lollipops

Before their recent resurgence at $16-a-pop Manhattan bars, beer cocktails had been relegated to the background the alcohol landscape for years.  From beer-on-beer drinks like the Black and Tan to beer and lemonade Shandies to binge drinking favorites like the Irish Car Bomb and the Sake Bomb, beer cocktails have always been slightly kitchy drinks that lacked the class that a 52WCC reader demands in their alcohol.  Enter the East by Southeast.  This cocktail combines the flavors of the south (bourbon and the malty warmth of the Alabama-inspired Roll Tide Red Ale) with spicy Asian flavors like star anise and ginger.  When paired with these spicy and sweet bourbon-ginger BBQ chicken lollipops it takes bar food to a whole new level.

East by Southeast Cocktail with Bourbon-Ginger BBQ Chicken Lollipops

East by Southeast

  • 6 oz of your favorite malty red ale (you’re not going to find RTR Ale in stores, but Otter Creek Copper Ale is a good replacement)
  • 1.5 oz Maker’s Mark Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
  • 1 tablespoon star anise simple syrup (see note below)
  • splash of ginger ale (ever made it homemade?  totally worth it)
  1. Mix all ingredients in cocktail shaker.  Give a quick shake – not too much or it will get too fizzy.
  2. Pour over ice in a rocks glass.
  3. Garnish with slice of lemon and green part of a scallion.

Note: Star Anise simple syrup is very easy to make.  Mix 1/2 cup of water with 1/2 cup of sugar and about 10 star anise pods and place over medium heat.  Bring to a boil (sugar will dissolve) then shut off heat and cover, allowing to steep for 15 minutes.  Strain before using.

Bourbon-Ginger BBQ Chicken Lollipops

  • “drumstick” part of the chicken wing, prepared as described here
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1/2 cup of dark molasses
  • 1/3 cup of Maker’s Mark Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
  • 3 tablespoons Siracha
  • 2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
  • 2 inches of ginger root, peeled and grated
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • sesame seeds
  • white  and light green parts of scallion, sliced
  1. Mix ketchup, molasses, bourbon, siracha, worcestershire sauce, ginger, onion and garlic powders in a small pot and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat.  Allow to simmer for 30-45 minutes until thickens slightly and darkens in color, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
  2. Place chicken lollipops onto baking sheet and bake in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.
  3. Remove from oven, paint with Bourbon-Ginger BBQ sauce and return to oven for another 15 minutes to allow BBQ sauce to set.
  4. Garnish with sesame seeds and sliced scallion.

Red Stag Manhattan and Peppercorn Crusted Ribeye

​Named for a county in Kentucky, Bourbon is distilled to exacting specifications. It must be made of a grain mixture that’s at least 51% corn, be aged in new, charred oak barrels, not be bottled at less than 80 proof (40% alcohol by volume, and be produced only in the United States to be called bourbon.

You’ve got to have something big and forward to stand up to a brown liquor. With its high proof and flavor notes that can hint of caramel, cherry, vanilla, wood, and smoke bourbon requires food with its own boldness. Dishes with subtle flavor profiles need not participate. For today’s pairing, we are going with a Classic Manhattan with a peppercorn crusted ribeye on a bed of arugula, topped with some saved Pecorino Romano and crispy shallots.

We are so used to pairing wine with food. With bourbon however, you are still working with the flavors and aromas of the spirits, but they are much more pronounced. The addition of the vermouth and bitters adds to the levels of flavors, giving the beverage a pleasant herbal flavor and aroma as well as a twist of citrus. Because of the excellent marbling in a ribeye, it is loaded with flavor and remains tender during cooking. The peppercorn crust adds a spicy boldness to match that of the bourbon.  The perfectly cooked meat sits atop a bed of peppery arugula dressed simply with extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to give that nice acidic sharpness to cut the richness of the steak and echo the bitters of the drink. The dish is then topped off with some Pecorino Romano and crispy fried shallots, adding pleasantly sharp, salty, aromatic flavors while the crispy caramelized shallots echoes the caramel notes in the bourbon.

Red Stag Manhattan

  • 2 1/2 oz Red Stag bourbon whiskey
  • 1/2 oz sweet vermouth
  • 2-3 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 maraschino cherry
  • 1 twist orange peel
  1. Combine the vermouth, bourbon whiskey, and bitters with 2 – 3 ice cubes in a mixing glass.
  2. Stir gently, don’t bruise the spirits and cloud the drink.
  3. Place the cherry in a chilled glass and strain the whiskey mixture over the cherry.
  4. Rub the cut edge of the orange peel over the rim of the glass and twist it over the drink to release the oils.

Peppercorn crusted Ribeye

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons peanut oil for frying (can be substituted for canola or vegetable)
  • (1-inch-thick) rib-eye steaks (about 1 pound each)
  • Kosher salt and lots freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon red chile flakes
  • 2 cups arugula, washed and spun dry
  • 1/2 lemon 1 shallot, sliced (approx 1/4″ thick)
  • 1 cup flour
  • Small block Pecorino Romano, shaved
  1. In a large cast iron pan, heat 1 tablespoons olive oil.
  2. Season steaks with salt, garlic powder, onion powder, chile flakes, and an aggressive amount of freshly cracked black pepper. Pat down seasoning to ensure a good crust. Shake off excess.
  3. When pan starts to smoke, carefully add steaks. Allow the steaks to cook for about 3 to 4 minutes on 1 side (for medium rare), without moving or piercing the meat. This will help create a good, crusty sear. When steaks are brown, flip and sear the other side for 3 minutes.
  4.  Remove meat to a large plate and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Tent with foil to keep warm
  5. Heat frying oil in a small saucepan over medium heat.
  6. Place flour in small bowl and season with salt and pepper. Toss the shallots in the flour to coat. Shake off excess
  7. Fry in pan for 2-3 minutes until golden brown, turning once. Be careful not to burn.
  8. In a small bowl, toss the arugula with the remaining olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper
  9. Slice the steak across the grain and on a bias into 1 1/2-inch thick pieces. Lay the slices on top of the dressed arugula. Using a vegetable peeler, shave Pecorino Romano over the dish. Top with crispy shallots


One response

  1. Pingback: The Leftover Diaries: Volume IV | 52 Week Cooking Challenge

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