Four Roses “Ode to an Old Fashioned” BBQ Sauce

Those who keep a close eye on me know that I like my bourbon nearly as much as I like my BBQ. In fact, my first introduction to bourbon was through Four Roses Single Barrel. What an introduction that was! So when asked to come up with a BBQ sauce recipe based on Four Roses Yellow Label bourbon, how could I refuse?

For those not familiar with the Four Roses brand, the distillery is based in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky.  They distill ten separate bourbons using a combination of two mash bill recipes and five different yeast strains.  Their standard Yellow Label (80 proof) expression blends all ten of these distinct bourbons, while their Small Batch expressions (90 proof) blend four of the bourbons together and their Single Barrel expression (100 proof) comes from a single barrel.

Naturally, in order to conduct research on the best way to use this bourbon in a BBQ sauce, I had to do some taste testing.  I found this bourbon to be a very easy and very smooth drink — no overly dominant or complex flavors.  This would make a great component for an Old Fashioned cocktail — one of my favorite cocktails.  To pay homage to this classic drink, I came up with a BBQ sauce recipe incorporating the elements of an Old Fashioned.  Hope you enjoy!


Four Roses "Ode to an Old Fashioned" BBQ Sauce
Recipe type: BBQ Sauce
Cuisine: BBQ
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 pints
This sauce combines elements of the Old Fashioned cocktail with a classic sweet BBQ sauce to offer a sweet and tangy flavor profile with a touch of heat and complexity.
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1½ cups frozen sweet black cherries
  • 1 cup Four Roses Yellow Label bourbon
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • ½ medium sweet yellow onion (diced)
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 4 dashes Angostura bitters
  1. In a sauce pot, melt the butter. Add the onion and garlic and saute over medium heat until the onions have sweated (about 5 minutes).
  2. Add the ketchup, bourbon, maple syrup, and bitters. Stir / whisk until evenly incorporated.
  3. Add the brown sugar, cherries, chili powder, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Stir/whisk until evenly incorporated.
  4. Reduce heat so that the sauce simmers. Simmer for approximately 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  5. Remove from heat and allow to cool for up to 30 minutes.
  6. Once cooled, blend the sauce together in a blender.

A special thanks goes to Shane Draper of Draper’s BBQ for helping me realize my madness and coming up with a viable recipe!

(Disclaimer: I was provided a bottle of Four Roses Yellow Label bourbon in return for this blog post.)

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Author: Big Wayner

Big Wayner is the mad brains behind Big Wayner's BBQ Blog. A full-time RVer, he enjoys sharing his passion for all things BBQ with anyone and everyone he meets.