I was invited to the first food/drink collaboration between the Junkyard and Buffalo Trace, a Kentucky Bourbon brand. The event was a limited availability bookable meal and I was excited to be a part of this event. Walking in to the Junkyard, I soaked up the rustic atmosphere of this delightful pour shop. It is very clear that not only do the owners/staff know their craft drinks, they love what they do and believe in it with a passion.
I am shown to my table, a lovely booth around the corner towards the back of the establishment with a view of the minimalist but delightful outdoor seating area. As I was dining alone, I was paired with another lone diner – a lovely woman named Amy Seton – who, luckily for me, is a whisky expert and is the owner of The Birmingham Whisky Club, bonus knowledge at my table!
On the table was a menu of the delights I could expect from the evening, it was a Buffalo Trace bourbon inspired menu with each course served with a bourbon cocktail to compliment your meal. Being a bourbon virgin I was both excited and apprehensive about consuming so much whiskey and had visions of myself passing out on the floor later on. The Buffalo Trace representatives introduced guests to the brand’s products with such unbelievable passion, it is clear to see they both believed in the brand which was lovely to hear, they had such a vast knowledge and captured guests attention with facts and history on not only the Buffalo Trace brand but Kentucky bourbon in general. An interesting fact about Buffalo Trace, it is the longest running distillery in America and has been creating good bourbon since 1773 – 95% of bourbon is made in Kentucky and must be made up of at least 51% corn. I learnt so much from Henry (one of the reps) that I can now be slightly more confident if asked about whiskey and not just stare blankly. I have to say my dining companion Amy also helped me a great deal with her own knowledge and facts.
After some learning, we were served our first course which was Pork Donuts with Kentucky Dust and a Manhattan Sauce. These were light fritter/dumplings filled generously with juicy pulled pork. The pork was cooked to perfection, not dry and had just the right amount inside, the donuts were light and non-greasy and when dipped in the sauce went down a treat. The sauce had a little kick at the end. The cocktail to go with the starter was a Kings Peach Julep, fruity and refreshing, not strong tasting as I imagined it would be. If you ate a bit of the food with the sauce on then took a sip of the Julep straight after, it started a little fire in the back of your throat – a nice warm fire, not an inferno.
For the main course I was served Slow Grilled Denver Cut of Beef with Greens, Pickled Mushrooms with sides of House BBQ Beans and Sweet Potato Fries. The beef was sourced especially for tonight’s event and was served as two generous thick cut portions cooked rare. It’s not usual for me to have beef rare but I appreciated that some cuts are just not meant for char-grilling. The beef was nice but it was a lot of meat so I unfortunately left some, the peppery seasoning of the beef really complimented the extravagance of the meat. The BBQ Beans were delightful, full of flavour and a good choice of side dish, pickled mushrooms were an acquired taste, they were like nothing I have ever tasted, not what you would expect on a mushroom, certainly woke my tastebuds! The drink to go with the main was a play on the popular Sauvignon Blanc – Saubourbon Blanc Whiskey Wine, served in a wine glass and made to feel like you were having red wine with your steak. This drink was dangerously more-ish, it did not taste like there was any alcohol in it, let alone whiskey! A dry but refreshing cocktail with elderflower cordial.
Dessert, always the best course – whilst we were waiting for our food dessert, we were served out liquid dessert, Mississippi Mud Rye, a bourbon milkshake! This came served with a bourbon biscuit on top (which I ate instantly of course) and this was by far the strongest cocktail of the night. It was a real grown ups milkshake. Lovely and creamy made with almond milk and crushed biscuits, a whiskey dessert. The eating pudding was Apple Pie with Bourbon Custard. This was not a hot apple pie, more ambient but it was still extremely tasty. This lovely sweet latticed pastry pudding was generously filled with chunks of apple and the right amount of cinnamon. The custard was not too thick, more a double cream texture, with a hint of vanilla, I couldn’t taste the bourbon in the custard but that could have been due to the strong whiskey milkshake I was also glugging.
Full to the brim and feeling like I would like just one more taste to make up my mind about bourbon I was in luck. I was given two taster shots of whiskey from the Buffalo Trace Antique selection. The first one was the Sazerac, a rye based whiskey that has been aged for 18 years. This hit you like a ton of bricks, the rich spices snaking down your throat, clearing a path as it goes, not a starter whiskey for a novice like me I would imagine. The second shot was the Eagle Rare – aged for 17 years – this one was more palatable for this bourbon newbie. Don’t get me wrong, it was still strong enough to put the proverbial hairs on the chest, but it was slightly sweeter and a much milder introduction to bourbon than the previous. I think watering down the whiskey into delicious cocktails is the way for me to go, but for you bourbon connoisseurs you will really appreciate the flavours that come from the award winning Buffalo Trace barrels.
Such an enjoyable evening for both food and drink – The Junkyard, a hidden gem of a bar nestled down an alleyway in Nottingham’s popular City Centre spot – The Lace Market. You can easily walk past if you are not looking for it – but go look for it! Seek and you will find it on Bridlesmith Walk, just between Das Kino and the Ibis hotel on Fletcher Gate. And if you are a bit scared of whiskey, try Buffalo Trace in a fruity cocktail, I think you will be pleasantly surprised.