Cooking with alcohol: our top boozy recipes combining the best of both worlds

World Best Bar

May 09, 2020

Cooking with alcohol: our top boozy recipes combining the best of both worlds
A glass of wine over dinner, a G&T with crisps or a tumbler of whisky with a cheese board; nothing quite brings out the flavours of food like an expertly paired alcoholic beverage. The gentle buzz, spicy kick of ethanol and savoury/sweet flavours in alcohol can enhance a dish in a way that soft drinks and water could only dream of - if drinks could dream, that is...

What of boozy recipes then? Surely a perfect pairing would be turbo-charged if the accompanying tipple is included in the cooking process as well? Yes, yes it would. Boozy foods are the epitome of indulgence – nothing says tasty like a food that’s flammable.

Here are seven sauced dishes that should definitely find their way into your wine-stained recipe folder!


This outback bush tucker treat is a favourite among Australians. There’s just something so romantic about the idea of baking bread in a billy over a campfire. No fresh water? No worries! Beer’s better anyway! A campfire flame can be a hard heat to regulate, which would ordinarily leave you with flat dough. Thankfully, the carbonate in the beer will help the bread to rise as well as leaving a lovely malty calling card.

Beef brisket with bourbon barbecue sauce 

Take your BBQ to level 1000 with an oh-so-gooey bourbon-steeped brisket. To make, stew the brisket (fat side down) in an oven roasting tin piled high with aromatics (onion, garlic, herbs etc.), vinegar to break down the meat and a full cup of your favourite bourbon. Leave that sucker to tenderise in the oven for around four hours (or until it’s melt-in-your-mouth ready) and cover with lashings of sticky homemade bourbon barbecue sauce. The bourbon will imbue a rich and smoky savouriness to the meat that’s truly irresistible.

Brandy-soaked French toast with fresh berries 

A breakfast of champions that would make even Marie Antoinette think you oughta calm down. Soak your bread (use challah as the bread base for an extra kick of buttery indulgence) in a mix of brandy, eggs, half and half, vanilla and cinnamon. Fry ’em up in a pan with salted butter and bake in the oven until cooked through. Cover with lashings of brandy-spiked maple syrup, spoonful’s of fresh berries and a dusting of icing sugar. Let them eat toast!

Whisky-smoked salmon 

Smoked salmon is usually kept as a treat for special occasions; birthdays, weddings, Christmas, etc., so why not make it extra-special with a curing of Scottish whisky? Use peat as fuel for the cold smoke and you’ve got yourself some serious flavour. Try this taste of the highlands on top of some malty Guinness bread to really bring that booze horse home.

Beer battered fish 

Beer is an excellent base for batter as it adds three very important things – carbon dioxide, foaming agents and alcohol. Gases dissolve better at lower temperatures, so when the CO2 in batter hits piping hot oil, the solubility of the gas plummets. This means that when the bubbles froth up, they expand into the batter mix giving it a lacy, crisp texture instead of bursting and escaping into the oil around it. Foaming agents, designed to give beer a longer lasting head, enhance this effect by coating the bubbles meaning that they burst at a much slower rate. Foams are also great heat insulators, so when the batter is bubbling away it’s also protecting the juicy meat inside. The alcohol in beer means that the batter requires much less cooking time than one made with either water or milk. This means that there’s less danger of overcooking the delicate meat inside. So, yeah…science says use beer!

Black forest cake 

Chances are you’ve tried mock black forest cake but not German black forest cake. The real deal is actually surprisingly savoury, tart and jam packed full of Kirsch – a strong fruit brandy made from the double distillation of Morello cherries. It’s decadent, rich and packs one hell of a punch – no kids allowed!

Vodka watermelon 

Nothing says ‘sun time, fun time’ like a crisp, juicy slice of watermelon…unless of course that watermelon has a full bottle of vodka soaked into its willing flesh. It’s surprisingly easy to make and is the perfect dessert to munch on at an afternoon barbie. You’ll need a whole watermelon, a bottle of vodka and about 24-hours prep time. Cut a bottleneck-sized hole into the melon rind and upturn the vodka into it. Wait until the bottle has emptied itself into the pulp, cut into slices and get wild!

Ooof, that’s one hell of a shopping list! Next time you’re having a dinner party, just remember that booze isn’t just for drinking – it’s for eating too! Bon appétit!

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