What To Consider Before Adding Bourbon To Vinaigrettes

Vinaigrette, a rather simple but immensely flavorful condiment made from oil and vinegar, has come a long way from its basic roots. Today, there are many exciting ways to kick it up a notch — one of which is to add bourbon into the mix. Known for its smoky, vanilla, honey, and oak flavors, this liquor can elevate the complexity of your dishes to the next level. There are certain considerations that you have to take when you make and use bourbon vinaigrette, though.

Since it's the centerpiece of the vinaigrette, the bourbon you pick will play a critical role in developing its flavor profile. You don't have to go for something expensive; lower-shelf bourbons are fine. The key is to pick a bourbon with strong vanilla and caramel flavors, which pair better with the tangy base of the vinaigrette. Look for wheated bourbons that use wheat instead of barley in their mash, like Maker's Mark (we don't recommend Jack Daniel's). Once you've picked out your bourbon of choice, add a tablespoon or two of bourbon into a sweet vinaigrette, like a honey-maple vinaigrette. Bourbon works best when there's a good amount of sugar present, as the liquor's warm and herbal notes can help balance out the sweetness. One last thing to keep in mind: Since you're not cooking the vinaigrette, the alcohol content remains intact and will be at its full strength. A couple of tablespoons won't leave you feeling tipsy, but it might not be the most family-friendly condiment!

How to use bourbon-infused vinaigrettes

The first and most obvious way to employ your brand-spanking-new bourbon-infused vinaigrette is by using it as a salad dressing. Try drizzling this boozy vinaigrette over a roasted sweet potato salad as a quick test. The result should be a flavorful salad bowl that has a little bit of every flavor: the sweetness of the potatoes, honey, and maple syrup with the tanginess of vinegar, plus the heat and the complex spicy kick of the bourbon.

Bourbon-infused vinaigrette can also elevate your weekend roasts! It works wonderfully as a glaze for roasted vegetables like carrots and Brussels sprouts. The caramel-like notes in bourbon perfectly complement the earthy veggies, adding greater depth to these otherwise basic-tasting sides. Finally, don't forget that it's also an excellent marinade for meats. If you're getting ready for a backyard barbecue, think about soaking sausages, burger patties, or any other barbecue favorites in bourbon vinaigrette. This not only enhances the meat's flavors but also helps keep it moist during grilling, ensuring even cooking throughout. As the grill works its magic, the alcohol in the bourbon vinaigrette evaporates, leaving behind a milder and smoother taste. And, cooking off the alcohol shifts bourbon vinaigrette toward a condiment everyone in the family can enjoy without any worries!