In general, I am fairly apathetic when it comes to food infused with booze. Would you like to whisky-up your chicken? Okay. Wanna put beer in your chili or maybe your cheese? Sure, why not. Bourbon in your BBQ sauce? Whatever boils your potato, chief. Mostly, in my experience, adding beer or bourbon to your food is fine, but tends to land on the side of “maybe not worth whatever calories it’s adding.”
Especially when it comes to fast food.
While a local gastropub might be able to make you notice the “subtle undertones of oak in a rich BBQ sauce married with a 12-year-old, single batch bourbon,” a fast food place always runs the risk of ending up with something that tastes like your buddy got drunk and accidentally knocked his Natty Light into the cheese dip.
So imagine my surprise when I really ended up liking Wendy’s new Bourbon Bacon Cheeseburger. Wendy’s describes it as “a quarter-pound of fresh, never frozen beef topped with Applewood smoked bacon, American cheese, crispy onions, and a sweet, smoky bourbon bacon sauce that is, essentially, a sauce made with real bourbon and real bacon.” That’s the actual copy.
Anyway, this isn’t a Bourbon BBQ sauce, which is what I kept thinking, but a Bourbon bacon sauce. And how is this sauce? Extremely sweet with only a very subtle tang. You’d be hard-pressed to get anything boozy from it, which, as a person who’d prefer their food to taste as little like alcohol as possible, I’m fine with.
According to Wendy’s, some of the sauce’s 30 ingredients include brown sugar, sugar, molasses, “uncured bacon base,” another kind of molasses, and, as you may have surmised, bourbon whiskey. But once again, I didn’t taste booze, or bacon, just sugar. And it’s good! It complements the salt of the bacon strips expertly. If you’ve ever had the good fortune to eat candied bacon, you will recognize this combination. It works.
The “crispy” onions also managed to stay reasonably crispy, which was a welcome surprise. The bun was warm and soft and seemed fresh, and the cheese was… present. To be honest, I didn’t really notice the cheese. This thing might’ve gotten by without it.
Despite all of these positive attributes, though, there was a pretty big negative -— the meat. While I’ve traditionally championed Wendy’s patties, this particular burger was dry and under-seasoned. Maybe I’ve had too many fantastic non-chain burgers lately, or maybe Wendy’s grill-master was having an off night. Either way, the bland meat puck took this sandwich down a notch or two. Even still, it’s worth a try if you’re looking for something a little different than most fast food offerings currently in the market. (Did you see the part about “candied bacon”? I rest my case.)
Purchased Price: $5.99
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 710 calories, 41 grams of fat, 16 grams of saturated fat, 1.5 grams of trans fat, 85 milligrams of cholesterol, 1400 milligrams of sodium, 51 grams of carbohydrates, 2 gram of dietary fiber, 15 grams of sugar, and 34 grams of protein.