Great thread. I just went through a process of reviewing different Carolina sauce variations for a pork butt I coked yesterday. Most are a blend of vinegar, ketchup, sugar and spice. The vinegar component is what I saw as the opportunity. Most get some apple in there with cider vinegar. What I would up with was:
2 parts ketchup
2 parts dark brown sugar
1 part apple cider vinegar
1 part pear vinegar
1 part balsamic vinegar
Crushed pepper flakes (medium heat)
Chipolte pepper (I left whole and flavor leached out)
I brought to a boil, then backed off. Just wanted to coax some pepper flavor and dissolve sugar.
The dark brown sugar gives that raw sugar base. The Balsamic vinegar adds to that. You have the apple in there and that pear really ties it together.
It seemed to make sense so I went with it. It was the kind of sauce that everyone snuck a spoon in the pan on the way by. People licked it off their fingers. The sauce was much better than I thought it would be. Excellent on port as a drizzle. It has this really neat softness on the tongue. A warm heat sensation that comes then goes. Really, really nice balance of sour, sweet and heat.
A really solid recommendation. I strongly encourage anyone to experiment with some of the nicer vinegars out there. I had my eyes opened.