Sweet Smoke BBQ and Blacksmith Artisanal Spirits come together for some flavorful pairings.

As the cool weather approaches, it may be time to put some meat on those bones, and there’s nothing like a full plate of barbecue and a stiff beverage to warm you up.

When walking by Sweet Smoke BBQ, you can’t help but take in the wafting smell of meat slowly cooking in the smoker. Sweet Smoke has been cooking up delicious barbecue since it opened its doors in downtown Jefferson City in 2018, and it’s now running a second location near Capital Mall. As you might expect from the smell, their food comes packed full of flavor.

The same can be said of the products from Blacksmith Artisanal Spirits. With four generations of family recipes and traditions under their belt, Blacksmith remains the first and only distillery in Cole County. Located in Lohman, the distillery produces a full line of handcrafted, small-batch spirits, wines, ciders, and, most recently, a Cole County 200 Missouri Bourbon Whiskey created to celebrate Cole County’s 200th anniversary. 

Pairing this artfully crafted liquor with some of the most flavorful barbecue in Mid-Missouri? You can’t go wrong. 

The Caramelized Pig

If you love the simple pleasures that pork has to offer, then the Caramelized Pig sandwich is the perfect fit for your palate. The best part about cooking with pork belly is that the longer you cook it, the more tender it becomes. John kicks this dish off by smoking the pork belly and then roasting it in the oven to give it a nice texture. 

“The pork belly is smoked and roasted with hickory wood, so it has a heavy smoke flavor,” John says.

If juicy pork belly isn’t already enough, the sandwich is also topped with sweet caramelized red onions and Carolina barbecue sauce that gives a hint of sour from its vinegar base. 

To balance out these flavors, this dish is paired with an apple gimlet featuring the Quench Tank Gin with muddled apple and lime. The Quench Tank Gin isn’t your average gin, however. Infused with sugar snap peas, cucumber, mint, cilantro, and a rare Japanese mountain pepper, it has a green, refreshing taste with a subtle hint of heat. 

The acidity in this citrus-forward drink also helps to cut the smokiness and fat in the meat. 

“The subtle hints of fresh cucumber and mint brighten the richness of the smoky pork belly. A peppery heat in the gin lingers in your mouth, accentuating the sauce, and adding muddled apple pairs beautifully with pork,” Russ says. 

Brisket Taco & Corn Whiskey

There’s nothing like some hickory-smoked brisket cooked slowly for hours in the smoker to fill you up. But slap it with a bit of roasted corn relish and fresh slaw on top of a corn tortilla? Then these big, bold flavors hold up to its topping of tangy Texas barbecue sauce. 

While the brisket’s flavor makes for a mouth-watering experience with each tender bite, it’s the corn features in this dish that works in tandem with a glass of good whiskey. It’s only fitting that this dish was paired with the Iron Forge Corn Whiskey, which also happens to be a crowd favorite and the spirit that started it all for Blacksmith Distillery. 

The original recipe from Grandpa Mike and Uncle Johnny was updated after 100 years, is made with 100% Missouri corn, and has a sweet, mellow, and smooth taste.”

— Russ Broker 

“The original recipe from Grandpa Mike and Uncle Johnny was updated after 100 years, is made with 100% Missouri corn, and has a sweet, mellow, and smooth taste,” Russ says. “The sweetness of the corn in this whiskey balances out the tang in the barbecue sauce while echoing the flavor from the corn relish and corn tortilla. The whiskey’s mellow oak smoothness allows the wonderful brisket to shine.”

Mac Rib Sandwich & Bicentennial Bourbon

This dish may seem like just a sandwich, but it’s “the mac daddy of sandwiches,” as Sweet Smoke BBQ owner John Biggs describes. 

To put this dish together, John starts with a large handful of smoked baby back rib meat that is pulled apart and doused in a corn syrup and apple juice mix, known as “rib crack” to John. Put between two slices of white bread and topped with Kansas City sweet barbecue sauce, raw onion, and a helping of Nathan’s dill pickles, the sandwich is thick and meaty with a kosher tang, making it the perfect match for bourbon. 

This classic bourbon from Blacksmith has caramel, toffee, and vanilla tastes and is aged in Missouri oak barrels for a warm finish.  

“The oak of the bourbon complements the wood smoke of the meat…”


“The oak of the bourbon complements the wood smoke of the meat, the extra alcohol proof balances the bite of the raw onion and zing of the pickle, and the spice of the rye in the whiskey blends perfectly with the sweet barbecue sauce,” Blacksmith Distillery co-owner Russ Broker says. 

With flavors like these, it’s no wonder Sweet Smoke BBQ works so well with Blacksmith Artisanal Spirits. Before you bite into your savory piece of barbecue, consider pairing it with a beverage that is just as delicious as the food.