Jones Bar-B-Q Sweet & Tangy
Deborah "Little" and Mary "Shorty" Jones currently helm the family barbecue business, but their life in smoked meats began with their father, Leavy B. Jones Sr, who worked at the Kansas City joint Hezekiah's and had his children lending a hand on the weekends. In 1987, Deborah and Mary's brother Daniel purchased Hezekiah's and turned it into the Jones' family first restaurant. Originally only Deborah was helping out part time, but Mary joined in running the business following Daniel's passing. In 2003, the sisters moved locations and then scaled back to a food cart in 2009. It wasn't until 2015, with the need for extra income to help pay for Deborah's daughters college, that the two opened up a brick and mortar spot again, and it's at this location on Kaw Drive that Jones Bar-B-Q has grown even more in popularity with some aid from a couple television appearances on Steve Harvey's Steve and Netflix's Queer Eye. One of the outcomes of Queer Eye was the bottling of their sauces and rub, which are currently available for purchase online.
A bright. sweet tomato aroma with a strong celery component is the first things to hit when taking in a deep whiff of this sauce. The sweetness has a molasses depth to it and there's a mild tanginess that helps keep the sugars in check. While the celery smell is strong, more spices come out following a few deeper nosefuls, primarily an oniony undertone, but there's a light pepper earthiness mixed in too.
Thickness & Texture
This maroon sauce has a semi-glossy sheen and a light texture to it from the spices. You can easily see a ton of those spices, which come in small and medium specs that are red, orange, white, and black. The sauce has a medium thickness and a pretty syrupy consistency. From a suspended spoon, the sauce falls in a large drip first followed by a fast and uneven pour that quickly changes to a few medium sized drips and then one or two slow, smaller ones before ceasing and leaving a medium coating of sauce left clinging to the silverware.
Out of the Jar
A very sweet tomato flavor starts off the flavor profile. Molasses mixes in to add depth almost immediately and also amps up the sweetness for a couple seconds before vinegar enters and starts to add a contrast to the sugars. The tang is light at first, and at this point the celery flavor hits along with multiple other spices like onion and bits of black pepper that add sharpness. The vinegar then gains prominence and imparts even more tang as the sauce begins to leave the tongue. At the same time, both the black pepper and likely other peppers release a medium heat that melds with the still present sweet tomato, vinegar, and celery to leave a very full bodied, layered, and well balanced aftertaste.
Slathered & Cooked
This sauce coated the chicken in a medium, even layer that baked down very well over indirect heat. When moved over the coals, the leg suffered just a little sauce loss while the rest of the sauce caramelized quite nicely without any burning. The first bite of the chicken had a pleasing balance between sweet and acidic tomato to give it an instant barbecue taste. Then subsequent bites brought in the molasses, celery, and other spices that gave the leg a matching flavor to what was experienced out of the jar, save for the heat, which didn't really build up until closer to when the chicken was almost finished being consumed. The bits of sauce that caramelized brought new pockets of sweetness and some crispness that added unique qualities after being cooked.
Put to Use
I normally would have chosen to start with the original sauce in a pitmaster's line-up, but I put Jones Bar-B-Q Coconut Pineapple first because the bottle said limited edition and, if that was true, I wanted to ensure readers had the opportunity to buy it. I was quite fond of that sauce, and the few qualms I had about it were minor to say the least, but as soon as I tried this original Sweet & Tangy recipe, I got everything I loved about the other sauce with the absence of anything I had an issue with, making this reach the highest rank of sauces in my mind. The flavor overall is a pretty straightforward barbecue profile, but the way the flavors progressed, the balances it struck, and the overall quality made me want to eat spoonful after spoonful. A heavy celery component did add a unique stamp that set the sauce out more for me, but that's not what I'd come to Jones Bar-B-Q Sweet & Tangy for—it would be the fact that I can't imagine anything this stuff touches not being delicious. The flavor is strong without being heavy handed, making it adaptable to so many grilling and smoking applications, and the fact that it was equally good on and off the grill means your good to go to use this as a condiment or baste and come out a winner either way.