If honoring your calling is the only true way to live, then today is the first day I can say with certainty that I am alive. Because pairing fried chicken with bourbon is what I was born to do.
Last week Kentucky Fried Chicken approached Bourbon & Banter with a challenge: pair their new Zinger Sandwich with Kentucky’s other darling, bourbon.
However, what ensued became less of a pairing and more competition between my meager selections of bourbons for who could match the Zinger’s spicy step? For who could bring out the best in her?! FOR WHOOO COULD WITH SHE TANGO?!?
Before we get to that, I must tell you a little about her. This dear sweet Zinger. Who, despite my initial doubts, did indeed make my heart zang.
The Zinger, which is a well-known KFC staple globally, is just now coming to America for folks in St. Louis and Charlotte to try through May 8th. Hand breaded in-store every day, the Zinger features the Colonel’s signature 11 herbs and spices. I opted for the Zinger as part of KFC’s $5 Fill Up that included the sandwich, wedges, medium drink and a cookie.
Made presentable by two sesame buns, she rested on a piece of lettuce and coyly hid under a blanket of cheese and strips of bacon. A light brush of mayo gave her a finishing touch.
All of that was needless ornamentation. Because she was enough on her own. “Don’t need no makeup to cover up,” as those boys with the hair and the songs say. Her golden, crispy skin guarded an inner spice. She was never overwhelming, but subtly demanded you take notice with every bite.
While I have, of course, encountered many sandwiches far more striking, there was something unexpectedly pleasant about her. As one of my dining companions poignantly said, “Any preconceived Zinger apprehensions have been sufficiently erased.” And I did concur. The Zinger won our praise.
But now to address my burning question of what bourbon is best suited to accompany this Zinger.
Let me introduce you to our eligible suitors (rummages through liquor cabinet):
First, we have Mr. Maker’s Mark. Whose family, we must disclose, has an intimate history with that of the KFC. You see the Colonel Harland Sanders himself hired the distillery founder’s son as the first employee of what would become the Kentucky Fried Chicken Corporation.
But it seems as though a perfect pairing does not a family history make. With a finish smooth and sweet, Makers was a bit too sophisticated for our darling Zinger. Next up, Jim.
By this point, I was getting to know the taste of our Zinger quite well, and the moment I took a swig of Jim I knew he was her perfect compliment. He took the kick she had and gave it right back – his heavy corn aroma and dash of spice were sturdy enough to support her, but his mellow finish still let her shine. A five-star match!”
After Jim, I knew she would not find another love like this in my liquor cabinet. But, as a formality to good ole’ Kentucky Tavern, I poured another glass.
Just as I suspected, he was far too crude for our darling. She may have some moxie, but deserves a little more finesse.
I declared Jim the victor, popped the rest of the sandwich into my mouth and took a swig to let the two consummate their pairing. That was until the cookie and potato wedges I stuffed in my mouth cut in. This $5 box meal is a pretty swell deal.
Now, remember this baby is only available in St. Louis, MO and Charlotte, NC from now until May 8th. So give it a try before it’s gone and let me know what you think. (remember to include the bourbon you paired your Zinger with)
Maybe I blew it! Maybe our Zinger ended up with the wrong bourbon bachelor! Or maybe I am exactly right, as I typically am.
Either way, holla back (as they say) in the comments below.
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by KFC. All opinions are 100% my own.