Apparently, taking shots off an ice sculpture is so 2008. Now, we’ve moved on to bone marrow.
Tonight only — to get everyone in the spirit of the holiday — the expert, experimental and excellent folks who run Proof on Main at 21c are offering up a Wild Turkey Rare Breed Bone Luge shot, which also serves as a snack.
But more on that in a second.
As you know, Thanksgiving Eve is one of Louisville’s biggest nights for going out — I dare say it might even be the biggest, since New Year’s Eve jumped the shark years ago. People go out to their familiar haunts to run into other people who managed to move away from the city — or just secure a babysitter for the night.
Plus, most of us don’t have to work the next day and can just lay around watching football and stuff ourselves with stuffing. You’ve been hiding things from your parents for years, so what makes a little hangover any different?
But let’s get back to shooting bourbon through a cow bone, shall we? I often get some strange emails, but this one tops the list. It basically said, “Would you like to drop by the Proof on Main bar sometime this week to be the first to try the Wild Turkey Rare Breed Bone Luge?”
It’s against my nature to turn down anything free, especially bourbon, so of course I said yes, not knowing exactly what a bone luge was or entailed. I also don’t eat much meat that contains bones, other than hot wings, because I don’t want to really know where it’s coming from.
And I’m one of those people who take about two or three bites of a chicken wing and am done with it. Once I hit something slimy or tendon-y, I’m out. I basically just crave the hot sauce.
Anyway, one Friday afternoon I met up with Proof Executive Chef Mike Wajda to experience the bone luge, and it’s something I won’t soon forget. I was hoping they would just hand me a cow bone and a shot of Wild Turkey — but apparently they wanted me to see the whole setup.
But first — the details. For $13 starting at 5:30 p.m. today, Nov. 22, you can order the Wild Turkey Rare Breed Bone Luge, which consists of a plate of bourbon barrel kraut, an English muffin and XO butter, along with a bone with marrow and a shot of Wild Turkey Rare Breed.
When Chef Wajda sat the whole shebang in front of me, I almost panicked. But thankfully, he had a plate of his own as well, so I wouldn’t be doing it alone. But my main concern was: How am I going to pretend to eat and like bone marrow in front of the man who cooked it? And: Can’t I just shoot the Turkey and call it a day?
Chef Wajda explained the reasoning behind the snack. He said he enjoys blending Asian cuisine with ingredients from local farmers, and this dish implements both Asian flavors and local ingredients — like the beef femur bones and Benton’s bacon. And surprisingly, bourbon and fat pair well together.
“This is an extremely fatty dish between the XO butter and marrow fat, so it needs something to help cut all the richness,” he said. “The Wild Turkey Rare Breed is great for cutting richness, complementing the flavors and helping digest all them.”
As I watched him scrape the mushy marrow from the bone and put it in his mouth, I conjured up some courage to take his lead and at least try the stuff. The marrow’s consistency reminded me of oysters, which I also don’t eat, so I focused on the parts that were well-cooked and contained some bacon.
“I’m from Ohio, so I’m not used to eating fancy stuff like this,” I told him in case he saw me cringe.
“Oh, what part? I’m from Ohio, too!” he said.
There goes that excuse.
I finally had to ask how he came up with shooting Turkey from a bone rather than an ice sculpture, and he looked at me like I had two heads. Basically, he said, why water down the bourbon if you don’t have to?
“We use a bone to luge because you get a fat wash to complement the bourbon rather than ice that would just be diluting the experience literally,” he explained.
I enjoyed the English muffin and butter, and finally scraped enough marrow from the bone to make a smooth surface for the bourbon to Slip ‘n’ Slide down. I let Chef Wajda go first to prepare my tastebuds for the 112-proof shot.
He positioned the bone upright over his mouth, with a slight slant, almost as if he was funneling a beer, and then simply poured the Turkey down from the top. It looked simple, but when I followed suit, I had to do mine in two takes and ended up with bourbon and bone marrow all over my chin.
But my prize, the Turkey Rare Breed, definitely stole the show and was worth it in the end. I have a feeling I’m in the minority with my disdain for mushy marrow — so if you really love the stuff, I’m guessing the entire plate, from start to finish, would be enticing.
I also detected a richness to the bourbon I never had before, which came from those fats in the marrow, and was glad I experienced it.
If you’re tired of those boring old ice-sculpture shots and want to be bad to the bone, head over to Proof tonight for the Wild Turkey Rare Breed Bone Luge. They’ll be serving them until midnight at the bar and in the restaurant as well.