Summer Grilling Tips from Maker’s Mark Bourbon

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Great barbecue and great whisky don't have to go together, but it's nice when they do.

With that in mind, Greg Davis, Maker’s Mark Master Distiller, pitched in for our Summer Grilling Guyd and offered a few of his personal pointers for the best summer BBQ.

1. Visit and purchase from your local butcher shop, they have the best cuts of meat and are always there to answer questions regardless of who you are. Just ask.

2. When cooking meat, allow it to come up to room temperature before placing on the grill if at all possible. Don’t cook immediately after removing from the fridge. This is the simplest way to insure tender steaks or pork.

3. When marinating steaks, keep it simple. There are numerous commercial grade marinades out there that are great, but I have my own:

  • Two ounces of Maker’s Mark or Maker’s 46.
  • Worcestershire – use enough to provide a nice layer in the bottom of the pan.
  • Meat tenderizer (found in all grocery stores) — sprinkle lightly over both sides of steaks.
  • Chicago style seasoning (whole, use something to grind it fresh — always best). I like using Emeril Lagasse’s method of “Bamming” it a couple of times. Then just a little extra for me.
  • Garlic to taste preference or leave out if you want.
  • Combine the Worcestershire, meat tenderizer, garlic and Chicago style seasonings — don’t mix the Maker’s yet.
  • Start marinating the steaks first thing in the morning (cold from fridge) in either a zip lock storage bag or pan and place on counter top for entire day. If possible, at lunch flip to ensure both sides get great contact with marinade.

4. When cooking the steaks, preheat the grill to 325 to 350 degrees F. Prep the Maker’s Mark or Maker’s 46. Wipe grill grates with a heavily coated olive oil rag. This keeps everything from sticking — and yes it will smoke at first and maybe even flare.

Cook ¾ inch thick steaks for about seven minutes per side for medium rare at 325 degrees. Lid down the whole time. If you’re lookin,' you ain’t cookin.'

Drink the Maker’s or Maker’s 46 while cooking. It will ease your nerves of cooking on the grill. Straight or in your favorite cocktail

5. Prepare pork with a little smoke.

Allow pork chops to also warm to room temperature by placing on counter top first thing in morning. The original packaging container is fine, but I like to put mine in a pan.

Find a good flavored season salt. You may have to experiment around. Lightly dust each side

Use Maker's Mark walnut bungs or Maker’s 46 wafers from the Maker’s Mark Distillery. If you can’t get those, buy wood chips. I prefer a mix of fruit and nut wood chips.

Fire up the grill to 325 to 350 degrees.

Place wood chips in aluminum foil bag, throw on grill while it is still heating up. This will get them smoking and ready for your meat.

Cook pork chops, I don’t have a time and temperature for this as everyone is a little too sensitive for me. Ask the butcher.

The number one thing is to watch the grill temperature. If you have a “flare-up," have a tall glass of water next to the grill and use it sparingly to extinguish a flare.

Keep the lid closed, this will keep heat evenly distributed and allow the smoke to penetrate the meat.