If you know, you know!
If you don’t then let me explain, briefly. My witty attempt to beguile you may have been lost in translation unless you’re up on semi-recent popular music. The 2015 DNCE song “cake by the ocean”, specifically, is the tune I was referencing.
I have to admit it’s quite a catchy song with the chorus repeating the phrase “keep on hopin’…cake by the ocean.” In fact, it was so catchy that my wife, teen and preteen daughters echoed the tune relentlessly for months. Full disclosure: I too found myself involuntarily singing the addictive chorus, under my breath of course. It wasn’t until my oldest daughter informed us, blush cheeked and giggling, that “cake by the ocean” was a reference to having “relations” on the beach or at least a reference to the cocktail of similar reference (sex on the beach).
A wrinkle, to say the least.
The frequency of the song being blasted throughout the halls of House Bourboneer dwindled after that. Though still making it’s presence felt on occasion, followed by a good chuckle. Mostly when my youngest bellowed the chorus without reservation, not comprehending the true meaning…thankfully.
So, with all that said, this somewhat metaphorical post is not really about a song. It’s about bourbon! More specifically pairing bourbon with food, in this case Jefferson’s Ocean bourbon with a chocolate cupcake. If you don’t see the intended reference of the above picture (cake by the ocean) by now, then I really can’t help you.
For my preference, I wanted to nuance both the complementing and contrasting flavors provided in the bourbon and the chocolate cupcake. Jefferson’s Ocean pairs very well on many levels with the many decadent layers of chocolate in the cake.
The complementing profiles were the sweetness in both. Chocolate for obvious reasons. However, most bourbon boasts ample amounts of vanilla and caramel, not just in the nose but on the palate as well. Oceans initial sip did not disappoint in that regard. Adding slight notes of some citrus and dark fruit. There was a hint of spice which balanced out the predominant sweetness which was not cloying in any fashion.
What was most interesting about the pairing was the contrasting, not complementing, distinction of Oceans finish after a bite of chocolate. There was a spice tone for sure, which made sense considering the bourbon has at least a 20% make up of rye in the mash bill. Most notably, however, was the slight brine profile at the finish. That’s right…brine! So I definitely tasted the benefit of the salty/sweet contrast of the bourbon and the chocolate. I am truly a fan of the salty sweet combo in my food preference so it’s not a surprise I loved this pairing.
For those of you who are not familiar with Jefferson’s Ocean bourbon, after the bourbon is aged in the barrel for 4 or more years it is placed on a ship and aged at sea for several more months. The idea being, to have the barrel absorb the damp, salty sea air while simultaneously having the bourbon inside constantly moving with the roll of the ship to consistently contact more of the charred staves inside the barrel. Therefore offering the unique flavor profile distinct to Oceans.
So next time you pop open a bottle of your favorite bourbon be sure to raid your fridge or pantry. Look for some different flavor profiles that may go well together with the bourbon. Find what goes well and forget what doesn’t. Try Jefferson’s Ocean and a chocolate cupcake for starters and let me know what you think. Cheers!
References: “Cake by the ocean”, DNCE, Republic Records, 2015.