When I first heard about the Beer Bourbon BBQ Festival in New York City, I asked myself, “Could you put three finer things together that begin with the letter B?” Since then, I’ve tried and the best I could do was Breakfast Foods, Bloody Mary’s, and Beef Tacos. It doesn’t have the same ring, though. Also, it would be nowhere near as fun as the Beer Bourbon BBQ Festival, which I attended this past weekend. The festival’s Bacon Bash was the first of two sessions housed at La Venue–the fancy name for the brick tunnel that stretches from Eleventh to Twelfth Avenue in Chelsea.
Delicious, Delicious Bacon at Beer Bourbon BBQ
Though Session 1 was called the Bacon Bash, only Brooklyn-based Apartment 138 dedicated themselves to those glamorous meat strips. They cloaked blue-cheese-stuffed-dates with bacon, creating an incredible sweet, salty, and sharp bite. They also dressed meatloaf with that savory slice of pig. Apartment 138 offered up four varietals of bacon, too, including hickory-smoked and black pepper. Cowgirl, another New York establishment, used bacon in their Rattlesnake Bites: a roasted jalapeno and grilled shrimp married together by that matrimonial frock of meat. Bacon was also popular in the dessert room. Shavings had been baconed into cookies and brownies by Baconery. Bacon was sprinkled over cupcakes by Mr. Cupcakes. The sweet and savory had transformed dessert into breakfast. If only comedian Jim Gaffigan had been invited to talk about bacon–“The most beautiful thing on Earth”–would the Bacon Bash have been any more blissful.
Most vendors, however, ventured away from the theme and served up brisket or pulled pork sliders instead. My top honors went to the brisket sandwiches of the Lower Eastside’s Mighty Quinn’s Barbeque. Topped with pickled cucumbers and pickled chilies, the meat on these open-faced sliders were as soft as the bun. Kloby’s Smokehouse got runner-up in my book with their ice-cream scooped brisket. The meat sat on the bun like a less sloppy Sloppy Joe. I did not, however, appreciate Kloby’s candied bacon, which looked and smelled like meat, but tasted too much like candy. The Little Red Hen Cooking Team laid a whole hog on the table (the theme for Session 2) and with rubber gloves plucked pieces of porky goodness for the hundreds (if not thousands) of attendees. The cooking team consisted of some good ol’ Southern folks. Their residence was evident when they told an Asian man, who had walked up to their table wearing a fake mustache that had been handed out at the event, “You look just like Mr. Miagi [from the Karate Kid].”
The most disappointing vendor was The Rodeo Bar. They were one of two stalls that were charging attendees–people who had already paid about $100 per ticket–to sample barbecue. (I did not try their food.)
Washing Down the BBQ with Beer and Bourbon
There were dozens of bourbon vendors, but mostly, I stuck with beer, especially the dark and hoppy ones. There were great commercial brews like Guinness Extra Stout, Harpoon IPA, Magic Hat #9, Abita Purple Haze. But I really enjoyed the microbrews, like Sixpoint Diesel, Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale, and Ommegang. Big up also to Long Island’s best beer: Blue Point. In bourbons, my favorite was Hudson Baby Bourbon. Displayed on their counter were blue, glass eye-dropper bottles that were filled with water so that imbibers could open up the flavors of their bourbon with a few drips. (Here’s my one criticism of Hudson Baby Bourbon: Why not open it up with a few drops of bacon grease?) For dessert, I had Maker’s Mark ice cream.
Digesting and Making Money
Toward the end of this incredible day, my digestive system stopped performing it’s most important function–ingestion–and shifted into that woeful period of boring, old digestion. So I took a hiatus from gorging myself and did some exercise: foot-stomping to the bluegrass of Great Dog Almighty. That was when a somewhat attractive blonde–though bear in mind, I had my BBQ goggles on–approached me and my friend Ross (husband to travel blogger Traveling Panties, who also wrote about the Beer Bourbon BBQ).
“When did you get that hat?” the girl asked us, pointing to our maroon Angry Orchard caps.
We gave her the whole timeline of events between our arrival to Beer Bourbon BBQ and the moment we received the free ball caps. Then her friend came over and guiltily admitted that she had been sent by the Angry Orchard team to steal our hats.
“They were going to pay me twenty dollars to do it,” the second girl confessed, squealing on herself as easily as Chunk from The Goonies had when he described his cinema prank to the Fratellis. The somewhat attractive blonde told us that she was talking to us for the very same reason.
Ross and I felt bad that girls only wanted to flirt with us as a way to pilfer our caps, so we figured somebody had to be punished.
“I’ll let you steal my hat,” I told girl number two, “but you have to split the twenty dollars with me.”
She agreed and stole my hat. I shouted “Hey! Hey!” as she ran away. I thought about chasing her to make the crime even more believable, but I had had way too many sliders sitting deliciously inside me and I was really enjoying the bluegrass.
Disclaimer: I did receive ten dollars from the girl who stole my hat via the Angry Orchard team. I also received tickets to Beer Bourbon BBQ, but the review of the event is honest.