What To Consider When Pairing Bourbon With Your Favorite Grilled Meats

Once the weather warms up, there's nothing quite like firing up the flame outdoors. A great way to bring together friends and family, it's the time to splurge on the best cuts of steak to grill and brush up on vegetable barbecuing tips. And especially whenever it's a convivial weekend occasion, there's always the question of what to drink alongside.

Beer, wine, or a refreshing summer cocktail are never a bad call, but fans of spirits can reach for straight bourbon, too. This predominantly corn-based whiskey pairs tremendously with fatty cuts — its boozy nature contrasting the animal's natural fat. Sipping the spirit helps cleanse the palate, and readies for the next bite.

Plus, the liquor's flavors align well with the charred, savory, and smoky notes of grilled meats. Varying styles can be paired with specific flavors — think a spicy rye alongside pork, or a sweeter wheat bourbon alongside chicken. There are many mouthwatering possibilities to consider, so find the best bourbons to drink for a grilling occasion and dive into an evening of enjoyment.

Bourbon's boozy notes complement fatty grilled meats

Barbecue is already established as one of the best bourbon-food pairings, but there are also more combinations to explore with grilled meats, too. As a general trend, consider the fattier and richer the cut, the more flavor-forward and alcoholic you want the spirit. If you have a centerpiece slab of beef — like delectably juicy ribeye — serve with an accordingly rich bourbon. Select from the best high-proof bourbons, buying an all-out Elijah Craig Barrel Proof or Knob Creek 12 Year Cask Strength for unforgettable liquors that vary cask to cask.

Perhaps your grilling occasion is a bit more casual — perhaps some grilled sausages and smaller steaks that are on the leaner side. Consider pairing with an according type of bourbon: one that retains complexity, but won't overpower what's on the menu. Try out a venerable expressions like Bulleit, which gets its bold flavor from a whole lot of rye, or Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon, which has a complex palate due to a mixed mash bill. Such spirits will still offer that fat-cutting quality, but not to a degree that'll overwhelm diners.

And finally, perhaps the dinner involves meats that aren't fatty at all; some grilled chicken, or a lean skirt steak. No fear — for these dishes, there are plenty of more sweet and mellow bourbon options. Maker's Mark is a dependable, easy-to-find-choice, but if you want to turn heads, get a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle.