Some people like having a nice glass or bottle or two-thirds of a box of wine with dinner. I’m one of those people (be on the lookout for an upcoming post where we—GASP AND EGADS—combine bourbon and wine in a variety of cocktails!), and I even know a little bit about what wine pairs with what food. Example: are you eating fish? Then you should drink a wine that isn’t made from fish. You know, for contrast.
However, as this is a bourbon blog, I thought I’d highlight the eating one can do with a nice trusty glass o’ bourbon by their side. Chefs know that bourbon meshes well with many edibles, which is why you can get so many bourbon-inspired meals at TGI Friday’s. Or is it Applebee’s? Chili’s? The point is that you’ll have a great time having dinner with friends and/or diarrhea.
Let’s be honest, though: sometimes, dinner just sounds d-u-m-b, and you’re all “pfft, I just want a little something to prevent my stomach from folding in on itself like a Mobius strip.” We’ve all been there; some of us have never left. Looking at you, Grandma.
So here’s a brief list of my favorite snackypoos to go with my drinkypoo of choice (bourbon, in case you have the immediate recall of an Alzheimery goldfishypoo). Emphasis is on those choice snacks that play off the natural flavors in bourbon, and really sit well on the palate. Secondary emphasis is on the fact that I am a cheap bastard and wouldn’t buy those newfangled Fig Newton biscuit-cookie things if I had Scrooge McDuck money.
There’s a reason bars usually keep a bowl of peanuts out: ghosts are afraid of them, and liquor licenses require that every bar be super haunted. But lo, those brown phantasm repellants are also very edible, and notably sweet in the context of a few sips of bourbon. Salted peanuts add in that whole salty/sweet interplay, which everybody pretends that they love even though they don’t remember the last time they ate anything that had it (trust me, it’s actually great though).
FUN FACT: Despite the claim in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Dumbo did not actually work for peanuts. He got scale and three points on the domestic box office.
GRANNY SMITH APPLE SLICES
While ranking as one of my bottom three apples (the other two: the Rottenpoop and the Weekend Dad), the tartness and clean finish of the Granny Smith apple pairs very well with most bourbons and some ancient riddles. Add in some Graham crackers to approximate a deconstructed apple pie; replace those Graham crackers with Graham Norton for a raucously fun interview laden with homoerotic subtext. You don’t actually have to slice the apple to eat it, but if you don’t start using that knife collection of yours for some innocent purposes, people are going to start gossiping.
FUN FACT: Johnny Appleseed was an actual person, made entirely of apple meat. If you listen carefully every time you bite into an apple, you need a hobby.
Vegetable farmers totally figured it out: everybody secretly wants to eat babies, but not-so-secretly wants to avoid a lengthy prison term. Enter the baby carrot. The sweetness of baby carrots is more obvious than the peanut, but with an earthy freshness that beckons out more of the woody/smoky flavors in bourbon. I specify baby carrots instead of regular-sized carrots, because a regular-sized carrot is not a snack. It is a punishment. Baby carrots come in a bag, because the first thing anybody thinks about when the word “appetizing” is brought to mind is “just a bunch of stuff thrown into a clear sack.”
FUN FACT: There are literally zero fun facts about carrots.
“Wait,” some of you are thinking, “didn’t you already list peanuts earlier in this post? You’re just a hack, aren’t you? Getting paid by the word, hacky hackerton?” And the answers, in order: yes; probably; no, I’m getting paid by a generous grant from the McGraw-Hill Companies. But this was somewhat of an accidental discovery, spurred on by my sneaking a few nips of bourbon into a hazelnut coffee (more commonly known as The Manliest and Butchest Beverage On The Whole Green Earth Praise Jesus). It turns out that hazelnuts and bourbon combine to evoke an almost apple flavor, without all the risk of biting into a piece of fruit and being poisoned by an evil queen for being almost criminally fair.
FUN FACT: Hazelnuts, like hazel eyes, are a combination of Rayleigh scattering and a moderate amount of melanin in the iris’ anterior border layer. In other words, I copied and pasted something from Wikipedia for use in a punchline.
It’s a bold move of me to say that corn goes well with corn, much like the visionary bartender Thad Mountgood, who first envisioned the harmonious pairing of water and ice. “Behold!” he hollered from his imbibe laboratory, “I have delivered the clouds’ offering from the temperate condition we have since dubbed ‘room’!” As great as that trip down memory lane was, it only has everything to do with how good corn chips and bourbon are together. You know how root beer gets ice cream and then the miracle that is a float matrix occurs? This is bourbon’s “oh crap, I forgot the science fair was today” entry into that world. Don’t crush up corn chips and drop them in your bourbon, though. That’d be weird. Like, suspenders weird. Just enjoy the salty crunch followed by the sweetness of that barreled alchemy what satisfies your liver demons.
FUN FACT: Fritos are named after the Spanish word “frito,” or “hey man, these are good, but can it come with an artificial jalapeno cheese dip in a sterno-looking can? We can sell it on the side, sure.” Spanish is an incredibly complex language!