Today I’m checking out the Raspberry Vodka BBQ Sauce from Luscious, bottled by CaJohns. This is one of those odd situations where you get a sauce to try, and you don’t know if you should be taking it seriously. Luscious, you see, is a character from a comic, and in either an art-imitating-life or life-imitating-art situation, there exists an actual person who this character is. So, you see my dilemma, in which I have this oddly assembled situation of a comic book sidekick that has come to real life and happens to do food reviews of places he visits while traveling between comic conventions, and is now a manufacturer of a BBQ sauce that I’m supposed to review. Normally, I would think this is someone playing a poorly executed joke on me, but knowing that CaJohn is involved has assured me to some degree that at least this could be a real-deal sauce.
Looking through the list, I’m seeing a heavy load of fruit and sweeteners on the top and then layers of salty flavoring, rounded out with spices and aromatics. My only reservation so far with the sauce is the vodka. Don’t get me wrong, booze are great to cook with, but from what I’ve seen in the past, going strong with booze in sauces tends to kill the flavor-layering effect. It seems to do its job as a solvent quite well and ends up taking flavors that stand out and then just turning them in to a single flavor in the bottle. Hopefully with the vodka and all the sweeteners in this, it does just come out like a one-note sugary sauce. Here’s what we’re working with: Tomato paste, Raspberries, Brown Sugar, Sugar, Corn Syrup, Soy Sauce, Vodka, Worcestershire Sauce, New-Mex Chiles, Garlic, Onion, Salt, Spices and Natural Mesquite Smoke Flavor.
Smokey-sweet booze is the first thing that hits your nose when you open the bottle, but once it’s had a few moments to breathe and open up, the raspberry becomes much more noticeable and the salty and savory components step up. It does a definitely good job of kicking off the salivation, which is typically a good sign of things to come. There isn’t anything that gives a hint for the New-Mex chiles, as the sweet and salty components are more dominant. The sauce is a deep brown with a touch of purple hue to it, likely from the berry component. It has thickness to it, but still pours easily, with a bit of some thicker bits that seem to be the less processed berries.
The forefront of this is a sweet and slightly smokey berry flavor, the salty and savory components are muted, but supporting, and there is a subtle tang to it. The thicker bits are definitely the berries and they add a nice bite, and have a tendency to bring in a little extra tomato paste mixed between, but don’t change the flavor much. The booze does as it’s done before, taking all of the flavor layers and smashing them down to a single one or two dimensions, but it seems they went bold enough with some of the flavor, that it survived to have something to it. Essentially being sweet and smokey, there are some hints of savory and salty. As far as the heat level, it’s a complete Mild – no noticeable heat at all. The flavor rating is going to come in at a Nominal. The caveat here is that you have to cook with it for the flavor to develop right; using the sauce on its own, it falls a bit flat. It doesn’t bring in big raspberry flavor, so don’t expect that to be the highlight of the sauce, just expect it to be a slightly different take on sweet BBQ sauce, and you’re going to want to go white meat with this, so chicken or pork. The sugar content on this, while being the primary flavor component, is not all that high for a BBQ sauce, so you could actually use this one for more than just a final glaze.