I dug into the archives for this recipe. When I was fresh out of graduate school, living in my first apartment, this was a dinner party staple for me. I guess I thought it was sophisticated, cooking with liquor. I always cooked it in my one ceramic baking dish, and served it with rice. I have no idea where the recipe came from, but I copied it out into my vine-patterned recipe journal, and the page has soysauce stains on it now. I am sure I used to call it something more sophisticated, like Whiskey Shrimp, or Bourbon Baked Shrimp. In my notebook, it’s written as Tipsy Shrimp, which sounds a little too twee for this bold dish. At some point, the recipe was stuck in my memory and I could make it by heart. I started thinking of it as Drunk Tank Shrimp, and the name stuck.
Like many early triumphs, this recipe eventually faded away, out of circulation, as I moved on to bigger and fancier things. But when I became the proud owner of both an indoor grill on my range, and a monster of an outdoor grill, I started digging through the archives for food to cook over fire. And this is a whopper of grill recipe. The sweet, tangy marinade gives simple shrimp a dose of bourbon fire and mellow stickiness. The reduced, syrupy sauce is half the joy. If you don’t have the grill going, this dish is also great baked in the oven. It’s a saucy version than the reduced-sauce grilled style, so I like to serve it with rice to soak up the goodness.
Drunk Tank Shrimp
½ cup bourbon
½ cup soy sauce
½ cup Dijon mustard
½ cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire
½ cup finely chopped onion
2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined (26- 30 count)
Combine the bourbon, soy, mustard sugar vinegar, salt and Worcestershire in a small bowl and whisk to dissolve the sugar and combine the marinade. Stir in the onions. Place the shrimp in a ziptop bag and pour over the marinade, tossing to coat the shrimp. Place on a plate in the fridge and marinate for 30 minutes, turning the bag over a couple of times.
To grill the shrimp, remove them from the marinade, and pour the marinade into a sauce pan. Bring the marinade to a boil, then lower the heat and cook until it has thickened and reduced by about half. Thread the shrimp onto skewers and grill over medium heat. Baste with the reduced sauce, turn the skewers over and continue cooking until the shrimp are cooked through. Drizzle over the remaining sauce, or serve it as a dip.
To cook the shrimp in the oven, pour off half of the marinade, then place the remaining marinade and shrimp in a 9 by 13 inch baking dish. Bake the shrimp at 350 degrees until they are cooked through and tender and the marinade is hot, about 20 minutes.
Serves 4- 6