There's bourbon barbecue sauce, and then there's the stuff Charlie McKenna of Lillie's Q has whipped up — a limited-edition barbecue sauce whose bourbon accent comes from having spent the last six months aging inside a bourbon barrel. "There are a lot of sauces out there that pour bourbon into them," McKenna says, "but no one has done barrel aging. You get this nice hint of bourbon, instead of the astringent liquor taste. It's an amazing sauce, probably the best barbecue sauce I've ever had." The base of the sauce is Smoky, the most popular sauce at Lillie's Q. Aging took place inside a charred-oak barrel provided by Heaven Hill Distilleries (Bardstown, Ky.), which also produces the private-label Lillie's Q bourbon that the restaurant carries. In fact, the same barrel that produced Lillie's Q bourbon was used to age the barbecue sauce.
As you may recall, a basement fire (due to a malfunctioning water heater) caused significant damage to the dining room in mid-March, forcing the restaurant to close. Luckily, the bottled sauces survived the fire, and now that Lillie's Q is about to reopen (or already has; details were uncertain at press time), McKenna is ready to share his sauce with the world — albeit a tiny fraction thereof.
Bourbon Barrel Aged Smoky (its official name) will not be served at the restaurant (it would be gone in no time), nor will it be offered via the restaurant's website. The only way to get one of these black-label, black-wax-dipped bottles — and there are only 200 bottles for sale — will be to show up at Lillie's Q on Friday, when the bottles will be sold ($15) on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 11 a.m. You can't reserve a bottle. You can't call ahead with a credit card. You have to be there, and there is a five-bottle limit per customer.
"If this is real popular, we'll try to do this more often," McKenna says.
But you might want to be there Friday anyway.
1856 W. North Ave., 773-772-5500.Copyright © 2015, RedEye