BOURBON & BACON: The Ultimate Guide to the South’s Favorite Food Groups

Originally published in The Bourbon Review Fall 2014

Best-selling author and bona fide Southern gentleman Morgan Murphy is back with a love letter to two of the smokiest and most American flavors known to man, BOURBON & BACON: The Ultimate Guide to the South’s Favorite Food Groups.

Murphy—author of the best-selling Southern Living: Off the Eaten Path series and judge on Travel Channel’s new American Grilled—is the first to devote an entire book to pairing the South’s two most indulgent flavors. Both history lesson and cookbook in one, Murphy begins “Part One: Bourbon” and “Part Two: Bacon” with the rich lore and creative process behind both distilling “the great American spirit” and slicing everyone’s favorite “magical” cut of pork.

Each section concludes with a collection of Southern Living-tested recipes – with more than 115 recipes in all – for nearly every treat you can imagine: savory and sweet Bourbon cocktails by the glass and pitcher; Bourbon butters, jams, dressings and desserts; and perfectly baconized appetizers, sides, entrees, and sweets. Along the way, readers find Murphy’s expert tasting notes, his trademark Southern wit, and enough fun to make moderation ride off into the sunset.

Discover the secrets to Bourbon’s great American flavor as Murphy walks you through all the liquor’s flavor profiles: grains, water, wood, yeast, and the art of distilling itself. Luckily for readers, his “Bourbon Drinker’s Guide” offers tasting notes for more than 75 spirits. Best of all, he has paired his cocktail and food recipes with “Bourbon I Love” selections. Take the Ol’ Smoky—a classic Old Fashioned variant with orange juice, old fashioned whisky barrel bitters, and woodchip smoke (thanks to a handy handheld smoker). That’ll sip best with a venerable Bourbon standby: Evan Williams Green Label. Or you can seriously up the ante with the decadent George T. Stagg Straight BourbonWhiskey—a 128.2 proof, 16-year-old beaut with complex flavors of chocolate, pipe tobacco, and oak. It’s also the perfect ingredient for classic Bourbon Balls—pecan halves, powdered sugar, butter, and 1/3 cup of the good stuff, all doused in melted chocolate. If that doesn’t satisfy your sweet tooth, the Double Chocolate Chip Cookies with Bourbon Ganache certainly will, with Heaven Hill Old Style Bourbon (90 proof) in the filling chosen for its strong fruit notes and mellow oak flavor.

Murphy matches his Bourbon expertise in the second half of his book with a “Bacon Lover’s Guide”—the ins and outs and tasting notes for 14 of the country’s best purveyors of bacon. After taking the reader through a “Pig Map” of the hog’s best cuts and the secrets to preserving the meat—be it salt rub, wet cure, or smoking—Murphy saddles up for a host of decadent party starters, side dishes, and mains. Bacon Wrapped Potatoes with Queso Blanco Dip will take any tailgate by storm, made best with Loveless Cafe’s hickory smoked Nashville cuts full of candied fat for a sweet and salty balance. The epic Bacon-Covered Roasted Turkey makes for a next level Thanksgiving feast, and with “Pig Candy” like Bacon-Bourbon Caramels and Bacon-Bourbon Caramel Popcorn, you can finally live out Murphy’s dream (and yours) of working Bourbon and bacon into every meal.

Expertly written and always, always fun—with clever asides and famous Bourbon and bacon quotes interspersed throughout—BOURBON & BACON is the perfect book for spirit experts, pork connoisseurs, and eager novices alike. Do as Murphy says, “Entertain friends and those you love in the grand Southern tradition of it’s not done till it’s overdone.”

Click here to purchase your copy!

Caroline Paulus is the Senior Editor for The Bourbon Review. She lives and writes in Lexington, Kentucky. Follow her on Instagram @misswhiskeyhistorian to keep up with her latest in bourbon news - and a few old finds, too.