Our annual bourbon tasting was cancelled following the sudden death of dear friend and Beaufort wine and spirits aficionado, Larry Bernard. Larry had been planning the event since last summer and had already purchased some small batch bourbons for an upscale tasting. A handful of bourbon-loving friends, who remembered Larry fondly, joined Vince and me for a small tasting last weekend. Each couple brought a special bourbon and we all sampled a bourbon-laced menu. If you like bourbon, you’re going to love these recipes!

Larry Bernard

This blog is dedicated to May Bernard and in loving memory of our dear Larry.

Bourbon-Bacon Cheese Ball

Bourbon-Bacon Cheese Ball
7 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
¼ cup blue cheese crumbles
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons bourbon
1 teaspoon hot sauce
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ cup chopped pecans
Combine all ingredients, except pecans, in a food processor. Process until smooth. Form mixture into a ball and roll in chopped pecans. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until set. Serve with water crackers.

Brie with Brown Sugar, Bourbon  and Walnuts

Brie with Brown Sugar, Bourbon and Walnuts
1 (8-ounce) slice brie cheese
¼ cup walnuts, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons bourbon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place brie on an oven-proof dish and bake in preheated oven for about 5 minutes or until soft. While the brie is backing, place the nuts, brown sugar and bourbon in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for about 2 minutes on high, until sugar is melted and mixture is bubbly. Remove brie from oven and pour nut mixture on top of cheese. Serve with crackers.

Arugula and Berry Salad with Bourbon Vinaigrette

Arugula and Berry Salad with Bourbon Vinaigrette
For the vinaigrette:
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
3 tablespoons bourbon
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ cup vegetable oil
For the salad:
Strawberries, stems removed and quartered
Place vinaigrette ingredients in a small jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake well to combine. Place arugula, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries on a large platter. Dress with vinaigrette and toss to combine. Serve immediately. Refrigerate any unused vinaigrette.

Bourbon-Bacon Butter

Bourbon-Bacon Butter
2 slices smoked bacon
1 stick salted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon bourbon
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Cook bacon in a small skillet over medium heat. Remove from skillet, drain on a paper towel, cool and crumble. Place butter in a small bowl. Add bourbon, brown sugar and crumbled bacon. Using a fork, vigorously whisk until well combined. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Before serving, let butter come to room temperature for ease in spreading. Serve with hot crusty bread.

Bourbon Marinated Pork Tenderloin with Bourbon-Mustard Gravy

Bourbon Marinated Pork Tenderloin with Bourbon-Mustard Gravy
For the pork:
2½ pounds pork tenderloin
½ cup low sodium soy sauce
½ cup bourbon
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 heaping tablespoon fresh minced ginger
¼ cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon black pepper
For the gravy:
1 cup chicken broth
¼ cup bourbon
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons soy sauce
¼ cup dijon mustard
3 tablespoons salted butter, cut into small pieces.
Salt and pepper, to taste
Rinse tenderloins and pat dry with paper towels. Combine soy sauce and next 8 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag. Place pork in marinade and close to seal. Let pork marinate in refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours. Grill pork tenderloins over high heat for about 30 minutes, turning occasionally, until a thermometer inserted into the thickest portion registers 155 degrees. Remove from heat, cover with foil and let rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing. While the pork is resting, prepare the gravy. Combine chicken broth, bourbon and cornstarch in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Whisk in brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and mustard. Stir until smooth. Whisk in butter. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with pork. Serves 6.

Dark Chocolate Cake with Bourbon-Bacon Frosting

Dark Chocolate Cake with Bourbon-Bacon Frosting
For the cake:
1 dark chocolate cake mix
¼ cup bourbon
For the frosting:
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 stick salted butter, softened
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (16-ounce) package confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons bourbon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare cake mix according to package directions, substituting ¼ cup bourbon for ¼ cup of water. Pour batter into two greased and floured round cake pans. Bake according to package directions. Remove cake from pans and cool completely on wire racks. Place butter and cream cheese in a large mixing bowl. Beat until creamy and smooth. Gradually add the confectioner’s sugar, mixing well after each addition. Add the bourbon and vanilla extract. Beat until creamy. Stir in half of the crumbled bacon, mixing well to combine. Frost cooled cakes with frosting. Sprinkle remaining bacon on top of the cake. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Let cake come to room temperature before slicing. Serves 12.

Gathering of the Bourbonites

The writer owns Catering by Debbi Covington and is the author of two cookbooks, Gold Medal Winner of the Benjamin Franklin Award, Celebrate Everything! and Dining Under the Carolina Moon. Debbi’s website address is www.cateringbydebbicovington.com. She may be reached at 525-0350 or by email at dbc@cateringbydebbicovington.com.

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