Saturday, March 28, 2009

TBG Eats: The NEW Kentucky Bourbon Burger from Carl's Jr.

Current Weight: 169.0 lbs.

I remember the day I fell in love.

It was April 2003 and I was in Washington DC on business. After returning to my hotel late one evening, I met a pair of my colleagues in the bar. To that point, I'd been nothing but a beer drinker, but the old broad with the smoky voice and decomposing liver was giving oral to a port wine, while our obnoxious pricing analyst nursed a vodka tonic.

Not sure why I went with Jack & Coke – save for the fact that it sounded cool around my fellow functioning alcoholics – but, by the end of the night, I'd racked up a $55 tab by myself and made a new friend in the bartender who helped fudge my expense report by turning my five libations into "appetizer, entrĂ©e, dessert" on the receipt.

I held steady with good ol' Jack & Coke. Universally known and hard to F up. I remember being in Rockville, Maryland a year or so after Jack and I started dating. At the Bugaboo Creek Steakhouse, I sent a Jack & (way too much) Coke back with just a dismissive wave of my hand towards the server. I had arrived at hard liquor. And, I liked it.

Later, the Mysterious Mr. S turned me on to Maker's Mark. Luxuriously smooth and with a hint of vanilla, I would never think about violating God's nectar by mixing it with the soft drink of the plebeians.

So, it goes without saying that Carl's Jr. won me over with their restaurant's in-window advertisements. From 50 yards away, at 35 mph, all I could see was "something, something BOURBON something". Sold!

The Kentucky Bourbon Burger is topped with pepper jack cheese, two strips of bacon, fried garlic-pepper onions, lettuce, tomato and a "Kentucky Bourbon glaze". In the past week, I've taken it to my colon twice. Last Friday, I ordered the Six Dollar Burger version (known as "Thickburgers" in the Hardee's chain). The meat was chalk-dry, the size of the sandwich was a LOT smaller than I remembered and, most egregious, the sweet, sweet sauce was applied with a thimble.

Towards a disbelieving Mrs. Bootleg, I swore that there were the makings of a great hamburger in there. And, for the first time in TBG's short-lived and lightly-read history, I held off on a food review until I could give it a second chance.

This past Thursday, I jumped in again. I beat the dinner crowd to the drive-thru which meant more time and attention from the chain's minimum wage slaves towards my meal. Then, I downsized from the Six Dollar version to "just" the double patty treatment. The end result was moist, messy…magnificent.

This time, CJ's came through with a quart of glaze that – artificial flavoring, notwithstanding – actually had hints of cheap bourbon in there. The sauce's sticky sweetness meshed well with the pepper jack cheese and spicy fried onions while the beef was "fast food" chewy, but yielding. The bacon just sealed the deal, as everyone knows cured pork cures all.

Everyone deserves a second chance.

Grade: 4.5 (out of 5)


that mexican guy said...

4.5??? Sorry Cam but this was WAY better than the Angry Whopper which I believe scored one of your coveted "5 jillion" scores.

Also I went to the CJ website and noticed that the Double Bourbon burger has *1000* calories and 51 g of fat. Might be time to stop blaming the prednisone for your weight gain, chubby.

SHough610 said...

A) I'm a Maker's man myself (I'm pretty reliable: either a bourbon neat, 7 & 7, or a martini. If I don't trust the bartender it's bourbon neat all the way). Have you tried Knob Creek? I like it, don't love it. I find that it's a little more abrasive than Maker's, which is like drinking velvet.

B) Why not just ask for a lot of sauce? I do that whenever I go to fast food to guarantee I get what I want.

That Bootleg Guy said...

I disagree, Mex. The Angry Whopper is a spicy lil' tour de force for the face. It's one of the few spicy fast food items that actually has kick. The Bourbon Burger might well be a "5", but the first one I had was horrible.

Re: Knob Creek, I've never had it straight, but it's been awesome in the mixed drinks I've had it in. Bookers is a pretty awesome bourbon, too. Little pricer than Maker's, but worth it.

Re: extra sauce...I'm *always* that guy who asks for 'extra sauce'. But, I gotta try it normal at least once. Food reviewers' unwritten rule or something.