15 of America's Best Bourbon Products

7 years, 1 major Bourbon trend, here are some keepers.

Pictured Above: Bourbon Caramel S’mores Recipe Here

Salted Bourbon Goat’s Milk Caramel // Fat Toad Farm // Brookfield, Vermont

We are hard-pressed to find a product teeming with more passion, dedication and commitment than what’s captured in each jar of Fat Toad Farm “Cajeta”. There’s “Artisan” and then there’s raising your own goats in central Vermont, milking them, then standing over copper pots for hours on end reducing down the milk until the sugars naturally caramelize to produce this mexican answer to dulce de leche. Add a little Bourbon and Sea Salt for good measure and this tangy grassy caramel is on the cutting edge of what we’re coining as the “teat to table” movement.

Bourbon Marshmallows // Wondermade // Orlando, FL

Short of some paranoid leprechaun tripping balls about kids after his lucky charms and inadvertently making marshmallow torches at a bonfire, your mallow experience is most likely minimal. Enter Nathan Clark, who believes every sidekick deserves to be the hero (well except Robin of course) and started handcrafting magic in Orlando. If you’re still wondering why the hell we sent you marshmallows, just try them in a Goat Caramel S’more Slider (recipe Mantry.com)

Bourbon Bacon Caramel Corn // Liddabit Sweets // Brooklyn, NY

In baseball, tradition rules, and most are sacred — the pinstripes, the anthem, the seventh-inning stretch. And yet how cracker jacks became the timeless stadium candy they are today, we’ll never know — is it their stale, molar-sticking bite or the useless “toy” stuffed in every box? Let’s upgrade. Started at the Brooklyn Flea by two culinary school buddies, Liddabit is now anything but little: a confectionary powerhouse of candies, caramels, even a cookbook. Who better to breathe new life into that tired snack? Their version covers all the bases: salty, sweet, boozy, bacon-y, it’s barbecue in a box, no toy needed.

Sticky Chipotle Bourbon Ribs Recipe Here

Chipotle Bourbon BBQ Sauce // Hak’s // Los Angeles, CA
Hak’s sauce has been field-tested in America’s toughest barbecue battlegrounds, from reality TV (Sharone Hakman cut his teeth on Master Chef) to, well, a real damn battleground, fed to 500 hungry Camp Pendleton Marines, so we think it can hold its own in your backyard. Thick, chunky, and rib-coating rich, the mix of molasses, vinegar, tomatoes, and spices starts tangy sweet then kicks with bourbon smoke. Complex enough to make a simple sparerib (salt-and-peppered, baked low until just tender, then finished on the grill) a prize worth fighting over.

Old Fashioned Cocktail Mixer // Proof // Decatur, GA
The mixologists at the Decatur, Georgia cocktail lounge Pinewood whip up a mean Old Fashioned, if you’re willing to wait. Drinks made the right way — the old way — take time. And when you’re out on the town, the bar-side song and dance is part of the fun. But back at home, leave the mixing to the masters and get straight to drinking with this premade blend of bitters, sugar, and oleosaccharum — a 19th-century citrus-infused cocktail syrup. Using about a half ounce for each two-finger pour of bourbon, one bottle is good for 30 drinks or so.

Eli Mason Mint Julep Recipe Here

Mint Julep Cocktail Mixer // Eli Mason // Nashville, TN

A creaking porch swing, the twang of an acoustic guitar, the only blinking lights are fireflies, the only tweets from nesting birds. Cell phone’s long forgotten, the digital world’s at bay — in your hand instead, a frosty glass of ice, mint, and bourbon. The easy life just got easier. No muddler? No mint? No problem. One part mixer; two parts bourbon. Most commercial mixers just over-sweeten your booze, but this Nashville-made syrup highlights, not hides. Made from pounds of fresh mint, cane sugar, and real gomme syrup — that’s the old-school granddaddy of simple syrup, made with gum Arabic to make your drink as silky smooth as a southern breeze.

“Old Fashioned” Cocktail Caramels // Shotwell Candy Co. // Memphis, TN

Named after the company founder’s great-grandpa Shot, who kept his general store’s candy barrels brimming with caramels for sugar-toothed local kids, and perfected after months of simmering and stirring dozens of test batches in tarnished brass pots, these caramels are old fashioned indeed — right down to their grown-up cocktail-inspired infusion of bitters, orange peel, and booze.

Bourbon Blueberry Jam // Jam Stand // Brooklyn, NY

Two gal pals, one humble, hard-working apartment stove, and a crate-load of mason jars turned to this: Brooklyn’s best and booziest jam-maker. Savory salt might warm the bones — a fried egg sandwich, say, on rich country toast — but something sweet will raise the spirits. Top your morning bun with a spoon or two of Jam Stand’s blueberry, the perfect blend of spritzy sweet fruit, mellow vanilla, and the spicy splinter kick of — you guessed it — bourbon.

Ultimate Thanksgiving Turkey Club Sandwich Recipe Here

Spicy Maple Bourbon Pickles // Brooklyn Brine // Brooklyn, NY

Fresh green discs, perfectly crinkle-cut, afloat in an onion-and-spice-packed brine: It looks like a pickle, it sounds like a pickle (crunch), but it tastes nothing like the sour dills you know, thanks to a swirl of organic New York State maple syrup and a shot of Finger Lakes Distilling’s spicy McKenzie rye. Like a pre-made pickle back, try ’em in a sandwich and we promise you’ll reach for the whole jar next.

Barrel Aged Old Fashioned Recipe Here

Bourbon Barrel Aged Old Fashioned // Bittermilk // Charleston, SC

We know you want to roll up your sleeves and flash those vinyasa-toned forearms, shaking up cocktails for your ogling guests — but they don’t want to watch; they want to drink, and you should be shmoozing, not sweating it out behind the bar. So do what the trendiest mixology meccas do and plan ahead with DIY drinks. Bittermilk’s mixer is perfect. It has everything but the booze: a classic blend of real-deal herbs and spices like gentian root and cinchona bark, sultry sweet with burnt sugar and a dash of orange, and aged in Willett bourbon barrels. Mix four parts bourbon to one part Bittermilk, fill a couple swing-top bottles, set the bar with an ice bucket and bowl of orange twists, and save the shaking for the dance floor.

Bourbon Sugar Grilled Peaches Recipe Here

Bourbon Smoked Sugar // Bourbon Barrel Foods // Louisville, KY

New Orleans Shrimp Po’ Boy Recipe Here

Bourbon Barrel Aged Verde Hot Sauce // Red Clay Hot Sauce // Charleston, SC

Tired of the vinegary, over-salted stuff he could find at the store, chef Geoff Rhyne started making his own hot sauce in the back of his restaurants. Tired of his diners swiping bottles to take back home, he started selling it. Cold-pressed for the freshest flavor, and aged in barrels for a sweet boozy smoothness, our favorite is the verde: bright and biting with apple, fennel, cilantro, and serrano heat. Mixed with mayo and slapped on a baguette, it makes a perfect sautéed shrimp po’ boy. Bring a bottle to your next dinner party — and watch out for sticky fingers.

Bourbon Cask Aged Chocolate Bar // Raaka Chocolate // Brooklyn, NY

The high-end, organic, flavor-grade cacao featured here makes one delicious detour from specially sourced Belize-grown bean to Brooklyn-made bar: It stops off for a drink. Bourbon, to be exact: resting in Berkshire Mountain Distillery barrels, where the nibs soak up the now-drained spirit’s spirit for a full month before being ground, melted, sweetened, and shaped. All of which means your after-dinner indulgence can get right to the point: a tipple, a treat, or both at once.

Bacon Bourbon Baked Beans Recipe Here

Hickory Smoked Bacon // Broadbent’s // Kuttawa, KY

A still sunrise, a mug of strong coffee and the aroma of bacon crisping in cast iron might as well be an American pastime and Broadbent’s has been woven into many such moments for over 100 years. The proof is in the pork, with over 14 Kentucky State Fair Championships. Broadbent’s is dry-cured and smoked the old-fashioned way, resulting in a bacon perfect for our Bourbon Bacon Baked Beans (recipe: mantry.com).

Bourbon Nib Brittle // Olive & Sinclair // Nashville, TN

Scotty Witherow is a standup guy with a stand out southern chocolate shop that’s hand roasting and stone grinding single origin cacao beans in the music city. Witherow trained in England at Le Cordon Bleu, the Fat Duck and Nobu before combining cacao beans aged in old barrels from local distilleries and bourbon to bang out this buttery bliss. Upgrade some store bought vanilla ice cream for your girl by swirling in some broken brittle, arguably more flattering than dropping “You’re the only Ten-I-See” around Nashville.

Mikuni Wild Harvest // Bourbon Barrel Matured Maple Syrup // Quebec, CAN

For many a self respecting woodsman, packing whiskey and maple syrup was as essential as a bushy beard and body odor. Maker Tyler Gray brings these two burly staples together to create barrel aged greatness. He begins with procuring the highest quality Maple syrup from heritage sugar shacks in the ancient maple orchards of Quebec. The syrup is then matured in charred American oak barrels from Tuthilltown Distillery (New York’s first whiskey distillery since the age of Prohibition) and finished off with a nip of fine Tuthilltown bourbon.

Bourbon Smoked Peppercorns // Bourbon Barrel Foods // Louisville, KY

Matt Jamie uses Bourbon Barrel Staves to slow smoke cracked peppercorns taking pepper in the opposite direction of those sand shakers adorning diner tables. Sub in early and often for regular pepper to add a wispy hint of smoke. We recommend dressing down some arugula with bourbon sorghum vinaigrette to cap off a Smoked Pepper Crusted Steak Sarnie on crusty bread.

Woodford Reserve Bourbon Sorghum Vinaigrette // Bourbon Barrel Foods // Louisville, KY

Sure, Bourbon from a glass is pretty damn good, but have you tried it on Bibb lettuce? Well, a purebred Kentucky native offers up as good a reason as any to spike your salad. Made in Louisville, this dressing contains pure Kentucky sorghum syrup, a labor intensive southern staple similar to molasses — that has been cultivated by family mills in the south since the 1850’s. The sweet complexity of sorghum is mixed with Woodford Reserve, apple cider vinegar and tabasco assuring bbq guests will show up for the steak but leave talking about the salad.

Reginald’s Bourbon Pecan Butter // Sabot, Virginia

Named after a childhood dog (not a boozehound), Andrew Brooker gives a nod to his favorite pooch by slipping some hooch into a batch of fresh roasted Virginia peanuts and pecans. Our call? Get some crusty ciabatta and go Elvis with a Grilled Bourbon Pecan Banana Sandwich.

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