There are a lot of food festivals that roll through New York City, some of which cook up success, while others crash and burn. The annual Beer, Bourbon, & BBQ Festival, which took place in January, nailed all the B’s in their namesake.
While there are two different sessions, one in the afternoon and one in the evening, and even an option for both, I opted for the 5:30pm – 9:30PM slot, also known as “The Whole Hog Pig Pickin’ Session.” My ticket got me an evening of beer sippin’, bourbon tastin’, music listenin’, cigar smokin’, and barbeque eatin’ fun.
Upon arrival, I knew I had opted for the perfect event attire, a flannel red and black plaid shirt with boots. The down-home country lovers of the Tri-state area came out in droves to eat, booze and mingle at the The Tunnel in Manhattan so I fit right in. The spacious setting was easy to navigate and the lines were rarely more than 10 people deep making for buzzed, full and happy customers.
Food tastings were from pit masters and chefs as well as some some of the east coast’s finest BBQ and Southern restaurants. Pulled pork, ribs, brisket and fixins were washed down with a variety of beers, bourbons and even some wines and whiskeys. It was set up like most tasting events, but the long room with brick walls and a vaulted ceiling made it feel extra spacious.
Beyond the tasting there was music (cue the drunk country boys dancing,) seminars in the Tasting Theater with Master Distillers, Brewmasters, and Pit Masters From the Deep South and a bacon eating contest.
There were certainly some shining swines and brilliant booze including:
- Handsome Devil BBQ: This Newburgh, NY brought us city folk some flavorful bacon. They served up simple but scrumptious peppercorn bacon. There was a lot of flavor without the heaviness of grease. It would be perfect in any burger, salad, breakfast sandwich or bloody mary. Also being served were wings, ribs and brisket. The wing was nice and meaty while the rib was rich with flavor. The brisket was cooked thoroughly and married well with the honey cornbread that it sat upon.
- Kinda Jerky Really Nutty: KJ-RN hails from Ocean City, MD and has found the perfect formula for jerky. I hate when jerky is so hard that I’m one bite away from breaking a tooth. The guys from Kinda Jerky were sampling and selling some of the softest, most flavorful dried meat I’ve ever noshed on. I usually don’t purchase extra food when I’m at a ticketed event because there is plenty to eat and I’m cheap AF. This was an exception. Flavor options were abundant but my favorite was the Teriyaki and I was sure to buy a bag to go. The spicy flavors packed the perfect amount of heat, and the owners of the company were all sorts of hot too.
- Deadwood Bourbon Whiskey: I’m officially a bourbon lover if it is the small batch Deadwood. For those of us who are not great at shots, they mixed their smooth bourbon with ginger and bitters to create a “Moscow Mule” like beverage.
- Kolby Smokehouse: Kolby Smokehouse brought their biscuit A game with the flakey and butter bread having a hearty but not too heavy. The texture inside was melt in your mouth. The ribs served were not sweet but offered a great, outdoorsy taste. The fall off the bone meat was smokey with a well-appointed vinegar flavor. The collard greens and baked beans were sampled by my friend and she said it was hands down the best beans she’s ever had. Though she hates beans so not many to compare too.
- Goodway Gourmet: I’m officially driving up to Troy, NY so I can steal the recipe for these insane rum cakes. I’ve had rum cakes in the Caribbean and these were just as good, if not better. The butter coconut was to put it simply, nuts in the best way and the rum did not oversaturate the cake.
- Natworks Catering & Events: Natwerks is your premiere Full Service Event Catering company covering the Tri-state and beyond. Jamaican flavors oozed out of the food being sampled. All the flavors of the island were packed into the Jamaican jerk burger. The mini slider was so moist (hate that word) so I can only imagine what the full patty tastes like.
- Cooper & Thief: “It doesn’t taste like other wines because it’s not” is just one of this brand’s tag lines. Ain’t that the truth. This bourbon barrel-aged red wine blend challenges tradition and your taste buds. It goes down so smooth and has an extra kick if you are trying to get a buzz. It also pairs perfectly with red meat.
– Lauren Wire
Photos by Wicked Petunia Photography and by Socially Superlative