Food Trucks: Maker’s Mark is the key ingredient.

By Fred Minnick

Your favorite lunch spot these days is likely to have wheels: in American cities, the hottest lunch destinations are food trucks. Fans follow their favorites on Twitter or Facebook and show up in parking lots or on street corners just to get grub.

Watching this craze develop, Maker’s Mark started working with food truck owners in 2011. Since then, some 50 restaurants, bakeries and mobile eateries nationwide have partnered with Maker’s Mark to create sweet and savory dishes. You can chow down on Maker’s Mark short-rib tacos in Texas or throw down on a bacon-and-whiskey glazed smoke chicken in Los Angeles.

There’s Big Gay Ice Cream’s “apple gobbler,” a sundae with bourbon caramel butterscotch; and Eddie’s Pizza Truck’s fig-with-caramelized Maker’s onions pizza. And who can pass up the New York-based Frites N Meats’ a Maker’s Mark Kobe beef burger, or Louisville’s Lil Cheezers’ pork tenderloin sandwich glazed in Maker’s Mark with a Maker’s chutney on wheatberry bread?

“When Maker’s approached us to make a grilled cheese sandwich, we turned it into a gourmet sandwich,” says Matt Davis, owner of Lil Cheezers in Louisville, owner of one of Kentucky’s most popular food trucks. “We strive to cook with local ingredients, and well, bourbon is local,” Davis says. In the three major markets—New York, Los Angeles and Texas—where Maker’s Mark is not local, food trucks sold more than 11,500 Maker’s Mark items in 2011 with Texas’ Coolhaus’ Southern Belle ice cream and Maker’s Mark ice cream sandwich accounting for 2,000 of the total.

Maker’s fans are hooked. “Bourbon drinkers walk by, stop and see the bottle, and get the bourbon-flavored ice cream,” says Lindsay Yuhasz of the Melt Ice Cream cart in New York. “They love the chance to taste their favorite flavor in different ways.” Celebrity chef Lee Anne Wong agrees; she says Maker’s Mark ice cream bars “are changing lives.”

Look for Maker’s Mark food trucks in your travels. Fan favorites include the Maker’s Baconana Wafel at Wafels and Dinges, New York: a light-and-crispy Brussels waffle, topped with Maker’s Mark, bacon, bananas and drizzled with Belgian chocolate, topped with powdered sugar. For Midwestern decadence, try the Maker’s Mark paczki (a Polish pastry, pronounced “poon-shkee”) at the Pierogi Street food truck in Chicago: paczki stuffed with Maker’s pastry cream, drizzled with a maple glaze and topped with a piece of candied bacon.

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