We have been thinking about uses for our bacon-infused bourbon since we made it. The first thing that came to mind was, of course, the old fashioned cocktail, but we wanted to make it a little more interesting. Chocolate bitters to the rescue!
Bacon Bourbon Old Fashioned
1 Sugar cube
3 dashes Chocolate bitters
2 oz. Bacon-infused bourbon
Place sugar cube in the bottom of a lowball glass. Douse with bitters, add a little water if desired, and muddle the bitters into the sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Add bourbon and orange twist.
If you love bacon, this is the old fashioned for you. The first flavor to hit your palate is the smooth chocolate while with the orange scent reaches your nose. The bacon flavor comes on strong after that. It is honestly too much bacon flavor for us, but we know there are bacon fans out there who will love this cocktail.
Bacon-infused bourbon has been gaining in popularity, probably because bourbon and bacon are both delicious. It’s a simple equation, really: bacon + bourbon = happiness. MATH NEVER LIES! Anyway, we’ve had some bacon-bourbon cocktails at numerous bars, each with varying degrees of deliciousness. We’ve been hesitant to try making it ourselves because when it’s not done right, bacon-infused bourbon can be fairly disastrous. Luckily for us, the internet exists. This video of Jamie Boudreau showing how to fat wash bourbon was exactly what we were looking for. (The video also includes a cocktail to make after the infusion.)
5-6 strips of bacon
1 cup bourbon
Make bacon. Eat bacon. LOVE BACON. Pour the fat into a heat-proof jar. We let the fat cool a little so it wasn’t at full heat when we poured it. Add bourbon. Shake once, then let the mixture cool in the freezer until the fat solidifies at the top. Use a spoon to get the solid fat out, and strain the liquid mixture through cheesecloth to remove any remaining solid pieces.
The end result is bourbon that also tastes like bacon. That’s really all you need to know about it, right? As you can see from the picture, the bacon-infused bourbon is clear of any floating debris. Even though our bacon fat was pretty dark (we think from using a cast-iron skillet, the best way to cook pretty much anything), the bourbon still turned out pretty light. We recommend using the highest quality bacon you find, since you are going to be putting that flavor directly into your whiskey.
We are not always walking around with glasses of bourbon in hand, though this blog may leave you with another impression, but we do find it easy to incorporate bourbon into many areas of our normal eating habits. Butternut squash soup is one of my favorite cold-weather dishes to make, and since my go-to recipe calls for bacon bits, I took the opportunity to add bourbon to the mix too.
The final product is an earthy, tangy soup complemented nicely by the subtly sweet bourbon and maple flavors in the bacon. A bonus of this recipe is that it allows me to organize the chopped ingredients neatly. I am one of those clean-as-I-go cooks; a messy kitchen makes me crazy.
To make bourbon maple bacon, simply lay out raw bacon on a Silpat mat-lined baking sheet (it’s best to use one with a bit of an edge on it to contain the grease) and drizzle a bit of bourbon maple syrup on each slice. Then bake at 375° for 30 to 40 minutes, or until crispy. Note: it is important to put the bacon into a cold oven and let it rise to temperature with the oven, otherwise it won’t turn out crispy.
Put four pieces of the cooked bacon into the refrigerator to chill. When your soup is ready, crumble a bit of the bacon on the top. This is comfort food at its finest.
Since starting this blog, Rachel and I have gotten more and more texts, tweets, and emails on the lines of, “OMG you need to see/taste [insert bourbon thing]!” (Note: we totally love when this happens.) This time it was Walt “Crimedog” McGough alerting us to the bourbon and bacon cocktail he was about to drink. You might remember Walt from the time he gave us a surprise Blanton’s tasting. He’s back to tell us about The Fig’N Pig. Walt is an amazingly talented playwright. If you’re in the Boston area this weekend, go see his play The Farm, which has been receiving rave reviews.
Last Sunday was a great day. Lovely fall weather, great company, a trip to the South End Arts Fair, and more. I thought things couldn’t get much better, until we decided to stop in at Post 390 and get a drink, and upon looking at the menu I saw this:
Needless to say, it was ordered immediately. When “bacon” and “bourbon” are used in the same sentence, there’s really not much discussion to be had. Had I had my wits about me, I would’ve asked the bartender what exactly “House Smoked Bourbon” entailed (or at least what brand they started with), but I was a bit overwhelmed by the prospect of my future beverage. Luckily, in no time at all it was there:
This drink was pretty fascinating, overall. The aroma really does have a heavy bacon presence: It’s salty, it’s warm, and it’s inviting. The first sip, on the other hand, is all about the sweet: the fig and orange mix together to give you something akin to an old-fashioned. It’s good, but it had me thinking I’d been had a little bit. “Where’s the bacon?” my mind shouted. “I was told there’d be bacon.”
And then the aftertaste hit. And hoo boy, was there bacon. After that initial sweet taste, a satisfying, smoky, bacony goodness cuts through, and leaves you with just the right hint of deliciousness. Without the initial sweetness, it’d be completely overpowering, but as it is it’s more of an afterthought that leaves you feeling good.
The last thing to notice: this drink is smooth. There’s no fire or burn to speak of (only smoke). I’m sure that has a lot to do with the mountain of crushed ice that it’s served with, but I also think the citrus and simple syrup go a long way to neutralize it.
In all, the Fig’n Pig is a very satisfying cocktail that probably works better as a one-off than a staple. It’s probably not something that I’ll be trying to replicate at home, nor will it enter into my rotation, but it is absolutely recommended, and not just for the novelty factor. It made for a sweet, smoky capstone to an already great afternoon, and there’s not much higher of a recommendation that I can give.