grilled ribs with cherry bourbon bbq sauce

Grilled Cherry-Bourbon BBQ Ribs

DIY BBQ sauce is not as hard as it sounds! For a seasonal take that plays up the aromas and flavors of the Bourbon, I combined fresh cherries with smoky spices and a hefty dose of brown sugar. Pre-cooking the ribs prior to grilling gives them a fall-apart tender texture and allows the sauce to caramelize without burning on the grill. A perfect match for a nice rack of ribs, this sauce is equally delicious on grilled chicken thighs or tempeh. And don’t forget the drinks! Pair these mouthwatering ribs with a Ginger Manhattan cocktail.

This recipe comes to us from our friend Carlin St. John of Get Together PDX. Specializing in catering, events, collabs & pop-ups, Get Together PDX provides fantastic food and thoughtful details to create special gatherings and dining experiences. Follow @gettogetherpdx and contact Carlin with catering inquiries at


  • One 1.5-2 lb rack baby back pork ribs


For the rub:

  • ¼ c light brown sugar
  • 1 TBS smoked paprika, divided
  • 2 TBS kosher salt
  • 1 TBS freshly ground black pepper


For the sauce:

  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh cherries, pitted
  • 1 small shallot, thinly sliced
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ light brown sugar
  • ½ cup New Deal Distiller’s Reserve Bourbon
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar


  1. Preheat the oven to 325℉.
  2. Make the rub. Mix the brown sugar, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
  3. Pat the ribs dry and season all over with the rub, using your hands to rub into every nook and cranny.
  4. Wrap the ribs in foil, tenting in the center, and roast until meat can be easily pulled off the bone with a fork, 60-90 minutes.
  5. Make the sauce. In a skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil, cherries, and shallots and saute until the cherries begin to soften and release their juice, about 10 minutes. Season with the paprika, cayenne, salt, pepper, and brown sugar, stir to coat.
  6. Add the bourbon to the pan, stir, and cook until some of the alcohol has cooked out, about 5 minutes.
  7. Add the vinegar and gently smash the cherries with a wooden spoon. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook until cherries have softened and sauce has become thickened, about 15 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat to cool slightly.
  8. Add the sauce to a food processor or blender and puree until smooth and thick and there are no visible chunks of cherry.
  9. Preheat a grill to medium-high. Brush the ribs all over with sauce. Grill until the meat is lightly charred and the sauce has caramelized, about 5 minutes per side.
  10. Serve with any extra sauce you have left and lots of napkins.
New Deal Gold Rush Cocktail Recipe

Gold Rush

This cocktail features our friend Lee Hedgemon’s port barreled vetch honey

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