Everyone likes their sauce differently. I just know what I know about barbecue: I like my meat sauces (all those involving pork) a bit less sweet, mostly sassy, and dark. I want lots of flavor, a hint of spice and reduced to something thick and lasting on your tongue. 

The two secrets to this sauce are less then obvious, like all good secrets.

  1. Use a shallow, heavy bottomed pan. For this, I used my standard 10 inch cast iron pan.  Cast iron is really a great medium to work in. You almost can’t burn in it (just don’t get too cocky), but it allows the sauce to reduce much faster. In this type of pan, you’ll achieve flavor that would take all day in a sauce pan that takes about 2 hours in a sauce pan.
  2. Taste everything as you go. This is pretty much the secret to life. 


Bourbon Peach Ginger BBQ Sauce with Rosemary

Homemade barbecue sauce is truly the mark of a great sandwich or burger. It elevates everything, and all you taste is the richness of the meat perfectly complimented by a deep, rich sauce. This sauce is not too tangy or sweet, and full of flavor. You might want to just keep eating it out of the pan, so I recommend making extra and storing any leftovers in the fridge. This will keep for about two weeks. If you don’t want to bother with fishing out the ginger slices afterwards, you can peel the ginger, chop it fine and leave it in the sauce. If you do this, it might grow spicier the longer you keep the sauce on hand.


2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 white onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger, sliced into large rounds with the skin on

1/2 cup of your favorite bourbon or whiskey (I used Bulleit Rye)

2/3 cup cider vinegar

1/4 cup light brown or dark bown sugar (or a little of each)

1/4 cup peach preserves or jam

1/4 cup molasses (not blackstrap)

3/4 cup ketchup (I prefer Annie’s organic ketchup, but any will do)

3 tablespoons dijon mustard

2 teaspoons hot sauce (Frank’s or Tabasco)

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons sweet paprika

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary

salt and pepper to taste (I ended up adding quite a bit of fresh ground pepper, but then again, I always do)



In a medium sauté pan over medium heat, add the oil and let it heat up for 1-2 minutes. Add the onion, garlic, sliced ginger and sauté for 4-6 minutes, until it begins to get translucent.

Add the bourbon, vinegar, brown sugar, peach preserves and molasses. Stir and let them “melt” a little and come together. Then add the ketchup, mustard and hot sauce. Let it come to a simmer and add the Worcestershire sauce and paprika.

Simmer for 30 minutes, over low or medium low heat. Taste and adjust. Is it too sweet? Add more cider vinegar. Is it too acidic? More brown sugar. Can’t taste enough bourbon? Add more of that too. Go ahead and add salt and pepper to taste at this point.

It’s important to taste the sauce as it continues to simmer so that you can see how it is progressing. As liquids reduce and combine, new complex flavors are developed.

After adjusting flavors, simmer another 30 minutes and taste again. Keep adjusting slightly until you have a sauce that tastes good to you.

This sauce will simmer for a total time of about 1-2 hours, and will become very dark and thick. After the sauce is nice and thick, you can fish out the ginger pieces and sprinkle with the fresh rosemary and stir it in.

It’s excellent with pulled pork or grilled chicken.