Listen Up Folks, There’s No Bourbon in This Bourbon Chicken


with Michael Kimball
Test Kitchen Chef
June 6, 2019
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Listen Up Folks, There’s No Bourbon in This Bourbon Chicken

Insert Clever Tagline For Our New Bourbon Chicken Spice n’ Easy Here:___________

You may have noticed the quippy little taglines featured on each of our Spice 'n Easy packages. If you haven’t, consider being a little more observant in your day-to-day life because you’re missing out on some choice food puns. I mean, come on. “Soup, there it is!”? Classic. Most are intended to entertain (or at least mildly amuse), but they can also serve to inform or highlight a special ingredient or characteristic of a dish. For example, the “Soup, there it is!” tagline really drives home that our Toasty Tomato Bisque is literally soup.

Enter stage left: Bourbon Chicken. A brand new Spice 'n Easy with a sweet personality and a smoky past. Also, a misleading name because spoiler: there is no bourbon in it. *Woman sitting in the front row of my TED talk raises hand* “Then why is it called Bourbon chicken?” Good question, Karen. Prepare yourself for some name-ception. Bourbon chicken is named after Bourbon Street in New Orleans, which was named after France’s ruling family in 1721, the House of Bourbon, who were named after the historic French province, Bourbonnais, which is also a great name for a product idea I had just now: bourbon and mayonnaise!

That being said, some recipes for Bourbon chicken do call for bourbon. Good for them. As a potentially costly and polarizing ingredient, especially for those with kiddos, we chose to forgo the spirits after rigorous recipe testing and customer polling. Add a splash of bourbon if you like, but we (and our trusted recipe testers) think it tastes great as is. Now let’s focus on the textured history and tempting flavor of this classic dish.

What is Bourbon Chicken?

Bourbon Street, in the heart of the historic French Quarter, is known for its colorful night-life, celebrated restaurants, live jazz, and legendary parties. It was here that a Chinese chef developed a sticky, sweet, and smoky sauced chicken that blended Asian flavor favorites like ginger and sesame with classic Cajun characters like white and black pepper, tomatoes, and garlic. Add a touch of honey sweetness and hickory smoke and you have Savory’s elevated take on the fusion cuisine that is currently being sampled at a mall food court near you.

Bourbon Street Marker. Photo Credit: https://www.frenchquarter.com/bourbon-street/

Before we could release our latest creation, Bourbon Chicken needed a tagline. Enter stage right: the marketing team that brought you such hits as “Feta is bettah” and “You had me at taco.” Tasked with dreaming up a telling tagline of Bourbon Chicken’s New Orleans origins, mall food court staple status, and lack of any and all bourbon, the team prepared to share their most inspired witticisms and most desperate bids to get their names on the board (did I mention there’s a big whiteboard where the winning taglines and their authors are displayed for “points?”). Only one can make it onto the board and label, but there are always a few gems that don’t make it out of the meeting. I thought you might enjoy a behind-the-scenes peek at some of the losers.


These honorable mentions focus on the dual-heritage of this saucy dish.

  • New Orleans, who dis?

  • What happens in New Orleans doesn’t always stay in New Orleans…

  • Pairs well with hot rice and cool jazz.

Have you ever been offered a free sample of Bourbon chicken while minding your own dang business in a mall food court? So have about 50% of the people I polled while standing in line at Starbucks this morning (who were also minding their own business). The reason it’s used for samples? It’s addictive.

  • Like a food court in your kitchen.

  • Food court is adjourned.

  • Satisfy your mall food court cravings at home. In your pajamas.

And then there’s the whole bourbon thing. These taglines attempted to clarify (or further confound) the issue of bourbon being in the name, but not in the recipe.

  • No mall? No bourbon? No problem!

  • Bourbon sold separately.

  • Why did the chicken cross the street? To get sauced.

  • It’s neat.

  • Made with really drunk chickens.

You can probably see why some of these didn’t make the cut, but they each garnered at least a couple pity laughs and led to the selection of the winning tagline: “It’s Asian. It’s Cajun. It’s ragin’.” It hints at the unique yet familiar flavor profile of Bourbon Chicken and lets you know that this chicken is mad delicious.

Think you could come up with a better tagline? Make some Bourbon Chicken this week and tag @savoryspiceshop on Instagram with your best one-liners. We’ll be sharing our whiteboard-worthy favorites!

Comments on this Article

(guest), on October 17, 2020

Chicken bourbon in the suburban

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