I love sassy as a food adjective. Sassy means it's got attitude. Sassy means, as my grandfather says, "it's got some wang to it." Sassy won't steer you wrong if you're looking for big flavor. And when it comes to barbecue sauce, sassy is most definitely a good thing.
This one by upstart Iowa sauciers Russ & Frank's is no exception. It's definitely not "mild", but not quite "fiery" either. Unscrewing the top of the mason jar style packaging releases a great robust aroma of sweet tomatoes and garlic. The sauce is moderately thick and has a dark reddish russet color. First taste reveals not the spice, but the sugar. It's a modest brown sugar and molasses sweetness - a pleasant introduction, enhanced by subtle onion and garlic flavors. Soon, however, this sauce is compelled to remind you that it's sassy, and that's when the mild heat of cayenne and black pepper sneaks into the room. It's just the perfect amount of burn, giving you that great flavor without completely dominating the experience. In other words, it's got some wang to it.