Barbecue Sauce with Bourbon and Moroccan Spices

By Cat, July 2021

I found this amazing recipe in our local Daily Inter Lake newspaper (7/7/21) and decided I just had to give it a try – with a few changes.

See also: 1. Accompaniments: Sauces & Gravies Menu; 2. Homemade, Fermented Catsup/Ketchup 

Barbecue Sauce with Bourbon and Moroccan Spices

I’ve not yet tested this recipe; will update ingredient amounts as needed after testing.

I note the original recipe uses 1½ tsp each of peppercorns and coriander seeds, and ¾ tsp each of whole cloves and cumin seeds; but because of their size, it is hard to make those measures, so I will experiment with weighing them in grams.

The original recipe calls for soy sauce, but I prefer to use its cousin: tamari sauce, which is a fermented byproduct of making miso (fermented soy paste). Unlike regular soy sauce, tamari contains no wheat and is gluten-free. For more about tamari, see The Pioneer Woman for a great article! (1) See also Livestrong (2) about the benefits of fermented soy.

I also highly recommend using homemade or commercial Organic fermented catsup (ketchup), as it is far more healthful than regular ketchup. For example, the popular brand, Heinz Ketchup, contains HFCS, corn syrup (from GMO corn) and other non-Organic ingredients (3a). Heinz Organic Ketchup has no HFCS nor corn syrup, but it does include Organic cane sugar (3b) and is not fermented (which would break down the sugar).

My fermented catsup recipe uses more healthful sweeteners (maple syrup or molasses), which are then fermented to lactic acid, which is a bit tart rather than sweet. And I don’t use any GMO ingredients.

Ingredients & Equipment

  • Spices:
  • 1½ tsp (_ grams) whole black peppercorns
  • 1½ tsp (_ grams) whole coriander seeds
  • ¾ tsp (_ grams) whole whole cloves
  • ¾ tsp (_ grams) whole cumin seeds
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Liquids:
  • 1 cup bourbon
  • 1 cup raw, local honey
  • 1 cup homemade, fermented catsup/ketchup or an organic ketchup brand
  • 1 cup rice vinegar
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ¼ cup Tamari sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  • Herbs, etc:
  • 1½ tsp dried lavender
  • 1½ tsp whole green peppercorns  (if in brine, drain and rinse before using)
  • ¾ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 small Serrano chiles, stem removed and halved lengthwise
  • 2 small garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 2-inches fresh ginger-root, peeled and thinly sliced
  • ¼ bunch cilantro, leaves and tender stems roughly chopped
  • Equipment:
  • small bowl
  • medium saucepan with heavy-bottom 
  • airtight container such as a Mason jar with lid, for storage


  1. Prep: If you don’t have any homemade, fermented catsup on-hand, make it the day or so before (or use a commercial brand of fermented catsup).
  2. Measure whole spices into a small bowl.
  3. Remove stems from chiles and halve them lengthwise; chop garlic cloves, peel and slice ginger root, and chop cilantro.
  4. Cook: Heat saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the spices and cook, stirring, until all are lightly toasted (look for the cumin to turn a shade darker), 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Pour in the bourbon to stop the spices from cooking. Caution: if using a gas stove, remove the pot from the heat beforehand so the alcohol doesn’t catch fire. Bring the bourbon to a boil and cook until reduced by half, 1½ – 2 minutes.
  6. Add remaining ingredients and return to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a steady simmer and cook, stirring occasionally at the beginning and more frequently toward the end, until the sauce is reduced by about half and is syrupy, about 30 minutes.
  7. Pour the sauce through a fine strainer into a bowl and let cool to room temperature.
  8. Store: Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.

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