Traditional Memphis sauces are tangy and tomato-based, yet sweet, almost always with the addition of molasses, and in some cases, brown sugar. Memphis barbecue is also known for flavorful dry rubs that bring out the natural flavor and smokiness without leaving the meat dripping in sauce. These rubs still maintain the tangy, sweet integrity by having a base of brown sugar and paprika, along with various other spices and herbs. Each Memphis sauce and rub is unique, each with its own way of bringing out the natural beauty in each type of meat. Many times when a dry rub is used, it is accompanied by a vinegar mop. The vinegar mop not only enhances the juiciness and tenderness of the meat, but the tangy acidity also complements and enhances the dry rub ingredients. A recipe for a standard vinegar mop has been included in this section. It is up to the chef to decide whether or not to use it, but rest assured it will only bring more life and flavor to your creation. To use the vinegar mop, mix it with a little bit of dry rub mix and baste the meat periodically throughout the grilling process. Near the end, pat the meat thoroughly with your chosen dry rub mix.
An important note when using mops and rubs, make sure that you reduce any risk of contamination by pouring into a separate dish only the amount that you think you will need, leaving the rest in its original container, untouched. This way any basting brushes or spoons will not contaminate the mixtures with meat juices.