Whenever weekends allow for 10 hours of uninterrupted time spent sipping beers next to the smoker, we take advantage. Those chances are few and far between, but last weekend, we picked up a couple of pork shoulders, invited over a bunch of friends, and let the beer consumption commence.

Smoking meat demands little effort, but it does demand some planning and a little regimentation. Although we like to keep the lid closed as much as possible to maintain a consistent temperature in the smoker, we do allow for the hourly opening to mop the meat.

Mopping is a method of applying a mop sauce to meat while it cooks. A mop sauce is generally much thinner than barbecue sauce, and a good mop sauce is what sets apart the champion meat smoker from the Average Joe. It should add moisture, color, and flavor.

Traditionally, mop sauces are applied with a small mop, which you can find in many kitchen or grilling stores, but we prefer to use a silicone kitchen brush. It works just as well and is so much easier to clean.

For our mop sauce, we mixed up Mexican Coke, apple cider, and of course, whiskey. The flavors are perfect for fall, and the Coke and cider help create some caramelization on the outside of the meat.

Whiskey mop sauce

Whiskey Mop Sauce
½ cup whiskey
1 cup apple cider
1 cup Mexican Coke
½ cup apple cider vinegar
Juice of 2 lemons
1 medium onion, cut into fat rings
2 tablespoons barbecue rub
salt and pepper

Place all ingredients in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat and let simmer for about 5 minutes. Allow it to come back to room temperature before you use it.

Glaze hourly on ribs, pork shoulder, brisket, chicken, or anything else you want to make more awesome on a smoker.