Ham has always graced my family’s holiday table. It could be prepared the day before and tastes so good with deviled eggs. Having a ham from happy, healthy hogs makes for a healthier, tastier, more enjoyable dinner.

Hogs from Grass Roots Farmers’ Cooperative aren’t confined to a pen. They roam the woods foraging for acorns and feasting on wildflowers and sweet grasses and enjoying the sunshine (which adds to higher vitamin D levels). Many studies, such as this one from Temple Grandin, have shown that animals raised in a natural, stress free environment result in a meat product with lower pH levels. When adrenaline is kept at lower levels, muscle tissue break down is reduced and less acid is produced resulting in more flavor and richer color. 

My family has always used some form of cola to baste our holiday ham. The recipe comes from an older cousin of my dad’s who chose to baste the ham with a cola the night before in preparation for the next day’s dinner. Instead of gathering up extra ingredients, he simply used what he already had on the counter—bourbon and Coke. Resourceful, wouldn’t you say? This recipe is extremely easy and the ingredients might be just the approach you are looking for, especially when you’re expecting a house full of family for your holiday dinner.


4 hours – 4 hours 25 minutes
About 10 servings


  • 8 pound fresh ham
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup bourbon
  • 4 cups cola


  1. Preheat your oven to 325°F.
  2. Using a sharp knife, score the ham in a crisscrossing grip pattern about ½ inch deep.
  3. Combine salt and other spices in a small mixing bowl then rub evenly all over the ham.
  4. With the fat side up, place the ham in a roasting pan and rub in the sugar, pressing into the score marks.
  5. Mix 2 cups of the cola and bourbon together and set aside. Add the remaining 2 cups of the cola to the roasting pan and bake for an hour.
  6. Pour the bourbon and cola mixture over the ham, basting every 15 minutes with the combined liquids and juices in the pan. Continue until the ham is thoroughly cooked with a meat thermometer reading 165°F and the skin is crispy and dark, 2 to 2 ½ hours.
  7. Take the ham out of the oven and allow it to rest for 20 minutes before slicing.