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Secret ingredient: Make a marinade tonight with booze, wine or beer

Amber Graefen


Apr 19th, 2017


Here’s a secret that will up your cooking cred: Use a marinade. Yes, a marinade can make the difference between a parched piece of meat and one bursting with flavor and juices.

Nestle your favorite protein in a special sauce, and let it soak in the flavors until ready for the grill, oven or pan. The best marinades are flavorful brews, best concocted using this equation:

Acid + Oil + Herbs + Spices = Marinade

Acids include booze, wine or beer, as well as lemon or lime juice, vinegar, Dijon mustard and, perhaps surprisingly, honey or agave. Acids serve to tenderize meat and distribute flavor. Oils are, well, oils, such as olive oil, butter or sesame oil. They saturate and help distribute herbs and spices. Flavorful herbs are typically leaves such as rosemary, bay, cilantro, basil and parsley. Spices typically come from roots, bark or seeds, such as pepper, paprika, cumin, and shallots and impart earthiness and warmth.

We usually think of marinating as something that takes hours or overnight. However, if you want to grill in an hour, marinate by using a more acidic acid. For example, use a zesty wine, dark beer or brown liquor or double up by using more than one acid.

Here are some marinade recipes using booze, wine and beer that will get the job done when time is tight. For all of these, mix the ingredients, place in a container with the meat and baste if necessary to coat, then cover and refrigerate for an hour.


baby back

Baby Back-Booze Marinade

(use with up to 5 pounds of ribs)

1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup Signature Kitchens honey
1/3 cup whiskey
1/3 cup Signature Kitchens soy sauce
4 tablespoons Lucerne melted butter
2 tablespoons ginger, grated
1 1/2 teaspoons pepper
1/2 teaspoon Signature Kitchens ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Signature Kitchens ground nutmeg
1 or 2 shallots, finely chopped



Sparkling-Sirloin Marinade

(use with up to 2 1/2 pounds of steak or roast)

1 cup sparkling wine or Champagne
1/2 cup Signature Kitchens olive oil
3 cloves garlic
4 sprigs rosemary
1/3 cup basil, chopped
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper



Chicken ’n’ Beer Marinade

(use with 3 to 4 chicken breasts)

One 12-ounce bottle dark beer
1/4 cup Signature Kitchens lemon juice
1/2 cup Signature Kitchens olive oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon each basil, oregano, thyme


A few final tips for all marinades:

Always refrigerate food that’s marinating.

Do not save marinade to reuse another time.

Do not use marinade in your sauce unless you bring it to a full boil first.


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