At some point in the last few years, the country seems to have waken up out of its misguided The Other White Meat silliness and rediscovered that pig plus fat equals transcendent tastiness. Heritage hogs, Italian lardo, the return of lard in pie crusts, pork belly on the menu of high end establishments, bacon dancing the tango with chocolate… You just knew at a certain point someone was going to ask themselves, “I wonder if I can get pork fat into a bottle of booze?”
Of course, since this is America (Fuck yeah!), the answer is “Yes, you can!” The technique is fat-washing , a means for infusing the flavor of a fat into a liquid while leaving behind the greasiness. The alcohol is infused with a liquid fat for a period of time to extract the flavor, then cooled in a freezer to solidify and strain out the fat. For a bacon-infused bourbon, the recipes I have found call for between 1 – 3 ounces of rendered bacon fat, which is achieved easily by cooking approximately a pound of bacon and reserving the rendered fat. (For the cooked bacon, well, eat it!) Once the fat has cooled, but still remains in liquid form, add the fat to a 750ml bottle of bourbon. Allow the fat and bourbon blend to steep for about four hours or more, then put it in a freezer overnight. The next day, strain out the bourbon through a fine sieve and cheesecloth. Bottle and refrigerate.
A bourbon on the sweeter side is recommended such as Bulleit or Four Roses, as a longer aged bourbon with strong oak or smoke tones would crowd out the bacon flavor. Also, use a good quality, strong-flavoured bacon. For mine, I used a combination of applewood smoked bacon and Bulleit. For the first drink with it, I went a little nuts and tried a cocktail that mimics the flavor of a McGriddle. I found it tasty, but others might find it merely odd. A more straightforward presentation would be PDT’s Benton’s Old Fashioned with bacon bourbon in place of the rye and maple syrup subbed for simple syrup. Next infusion experiment: Hot Buttered Popcorn Rum!
1 1/2 oz. bacon bourbon
1 oz. whole millk
3/4 oz. Grade B maple syrup
1 whole egg
Combine with ice and shake hard. Strain into glass. Garnish with bacon salt.*
* I had no bacon salt, so I used some ground cinnamon.
Courtesy of Todd Thasher of Restaurant Eve & PX.