Bake with Bourbon: Smoky Vanilla Whisky Pretzels

Fermented barley and fried dough – whisky and pretzels are definitely a match made in heaven. And, it’s not just because they taste great together. Both their origins can be traced back to monasteries in Europe. Although the first pretzel was possibly knotted together as small gifts for pious children by an Italian monk, distilling whisky was an esoteric art practiced by friars of the Scottish Highlands. We can only speculate where they met on this earthly plain, but such unions have purpose.

The saltiness of a well-baked pretzel is reminiscent of toasted peanuts which feature regularly on bar tops and is a close companion of any whisky – scotch or blended. But, the lye that is used to treat pretzels and give it its signature texture often lends it a flavour which some find a little unappealing. This however should not stand out as a deal breaker. Everything tastes better when you add a dash of whisky to it and this recipe for whisky pretzel will prove to you again how true the aphorism is. We have added a bit of vanilla paste to the formula just to give it a hit of warm sweetness that’ll compliment the smoky saltiness.


  • A 500 grams bag of pretzels
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla bean paste
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • 80 ml Old Scout bourbon whiskey

The Process

Turn on the oven and preheat it to 300°F. In the meantime, soften the butter and stir it together with garlic powder, pepper flakes, and sugar. Once the sugar has blended in, add the vanilla paste, pour in a good measure of bourbon, and whisk vigorously. Once your glaze is ready, place the pretzels on a lined baking tray, and generously brush the mixture on top. Alternatively, you can simply open the top of the pretzel packet, pour in the glaze, and give it a very hearty shake so that everything inside is well coated before you spread it out on the baking tray. Bake for 15 minutes before tossing and putting it back in the oven. Remove and let the batch cool off before you serve these tasty nuggets with some strong coffee over breakfast or with a dram of bourbon later in the evening.