Supercall Labs: Putting Booze in Condiments
There are three ways to make alcohol-enhanced condiments: The hard way (make everything from scratch), the expensive way (buy them from your local specialty store) and our way (just pour the liquor right into the sauce). Going with our way? Good choice. Here’s your basic recipe: Add liquor to sauce. Stir. Done.
But even with a recipe this simple, there is room for error if you don’t know which booze to pair with which condiment. Which is why we here at Supercall took it upon ourselves to test various combinations in order to discover the best, worst and most gag-inducing blends. We spiked ketchup, mustard, relish, Sriracha and, of course, sweet barbecue sauce. We added vodka, bourbon, tequila, rum and gin to samples of each, keeping the ratio the same throughout: one part booze to three parts condiment.
There were some surprising results, so before you haphazardly dump alcohol onto your hot dog, learn from our mistakes and read on.
Most spiked ketchup recipes around the internet call for bourbon, but rum was our favorite option. Whiskey was a solid option too, but mostly because it really just tasted like whiskey — and we really like whiskey. Vodka was unnoticeable and would make a good option for those wanting to up the ABV without altering the flavor. Tequila and gin were both generally voted to be horrible.
Spicy Yellow Mustard
Rum gave the mustard a quirky, almost appealing funk, but it left a bitter aftertaste that turned off even the most ravenous rum fans among us. Vodka had the opposite effect, mellowing the spice to appease those with more sensitive palates. Whiskey was not great, verging on gnarly, and gin was straight up awful. The big surprise was tequila, which added subtle depth. We humbly suggest adding tequila-spiked mustard to your next hot dog.
Relish is basically pickles, so we guessed that whiskey would work well based on our knowledge of briney, heavenly picklebacks. We also expected gin’s botanicals to play nicely with the cucumber and onion. To our utter shock, bourbon just didn’t work. It tasted like bad relish—there’s no better way to put it. Gin, on the other hand, finally found its perfect complement, making the relish even pickley-er and brinier. Some even praised it as the first gin mixture of the day that didn’t make them want to throw up. (High praise). Vodka was decent too, but didn’t quite enhance the relish experience like gin. Rum was a hard pass, making the relish overly saccharine and highlighting the worst notes. But it was tequila that inspired the most outrage. One tester even walked away from the table after tasting the tequila-relish abomination.
The chili peppers and vinegar made Sriracha a bit difficult to work with. We initially had trouble even tasting the booze, but after retesting (and several glasses of water), we were able to discern the subtle differences. The digital barbecue hive mind suggested bourbon would be a success, but the outcome tasted more like some sort of thick, spicy bourbon than spiked hot sauce. One tester described it as Sriracha that had “gone off.” Meanwhile, rum made for an intriguing sweet-spicy combo that even converted a few sugarcane naysayers. Tequila dulled the spice, effectively killing its spirit. Gin made it taste like someone spilled some liquid soap into the bottle. Vodka made a surprise appearance in the No. 2 spot, but only because the other options were so unpalatable.
Probably the most commonly spiked condiment out there, barbecue sauce seemed like it would be no-brainer. Then we remembered that we weren’t just dealing with brown spirits—the gin was lurking on the table too, waiting to ruin our day. Unsurprisingly, whiskey worked like a charm, though some thought it boring and all too familiar. Rum gave the sweet sauce a funky edge—one taster even called it filthy, but in a good way. Tequila received mixed reactions, with some suggesting that it might work on fish. Gin was deemed too complex, though inoffensive. Vodka, as usual, was fine if uninspirational.
Verdict: Rum or Bourbon