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 recently told you about the apple pie-infused bourbon that one of our friends gave to us for Christmas. If you don’t recall and want a brief explanation: it tastes like bourbon and apple pie, and it’s delicious. An old fashioned cocktail is also delicious, so BOOM: APPLE PIE OLD FASHIONED!
Apple Pie Old Fashioned
2 oz. bourbon
Make this like you would a normal old fashioned. Put the sugar cube in a glass, dash bitters on it, add a little water to help muddle, and muddle until the sugar mixes into the water. Add orange twist into the glass and muddle lightly. Add ice then bourbon.
This is easily one of our favorite cocktails. We were a little worried about adding sugar to a bourbon that already had sweetness added to it, but it wasn’t a problem at all. The barrel-aged bitters temper the sweetness a little while adding a nice depth and complexity. We made this drink a few days ago, and we’ve been thinking about it ever since.
Recently, one of our sweet friends gave us a bottle of apple pie-infused bourbon as a holiday gift. It tastes so good that we couldn’t resist highlighting it here.
You can easily find a number of recipes for this infusion online. Our friend said she used Corner Creek bourbon, and we think it turned out great. The flavors are primarily vanilla and a great burst of spice (think apple pie spices, like cinnamon and nutmeg), with a sweet fruitiness from the apple. It is deliciously fragrant, and the scent actually lingers in the air for a long time.
We tried this bourbon by itself for this review, but we can imagine that it would be great mixed with ginger ale or used as a twist on a classic cocktail. Apple pie old-fashioned, anyone?
We have awesome readers. We often receive fun messages and comments from you guys, and recently we got such a great email that we wanted to share it here. The following text and photo are by Randy Lieberg of Grand Forks, North Dakota, who recreated a bourbon infusion he tasted at Bourbon House in New Orleans.
750 ml. Quality small-batch bourbon whiskey
10 oz. Package Dried Figs (used California Mission)
1 tsp. Dried Nutmeg
2 oz. Cranberries (used whole frozen)
½ oz. Triple Sec
½ t. Cinnamon
¼ t. Allspice
4-5 Whole Cloves
Combine ingredients in airtight container, preferably glass bottle. Store in cool dark place while infusion occurs. Some people quarter the figs before infusion for a greater dispersal of flavor, but this will allow seeds to free themselves and require straining.
Suggested infusion time ranges from a few days to one month. See individual batch notes below.
BATCH 1: Bottled 12.4.12/Opened 12.22.12
Woodford Reserve Whiskey as base
• Notes: Checked and stirred weekly. Infused in plastic Ziplock bag and then kept in plastic container with plastic wrap and rubber band. Stored next to large amounts of stored pipe tobacco—likely no transfer of flavor from this but bears noting.
• Tasted 12.15.12—Very strong fig taste, bordering on a tongue bite/burn. Instant flavor burst, slightly spicy notes over the fig taste, finish is smooth with slight orange/citrus hints. Very smooth palate and almost no “whiskey burn” going down the gullet. Overall extremely strong infusion flavor, and not much natural bourbon flavor left.
• Final tasting 12.21.12—Overall taste still very strong but mellowed slightly. Spices have come through a bit more on the immediate aftertaste. Final required mixing with straight bourbon to achieve finished product.
• Final opening/bottling—Strained through kitchen colander, some sludgy spices left in infusion container. Mixed ratio for final bottling. Mixed gently in pitcher and poured into original bottles.
o 750 ml. infused
o 750 ml. straight Woodford Reserve
o 250 ml. Maker’s Mark (approx.)
• Final Thoughts: Matches my recall of initial version we had in New Orleans. Pleasant nose, easily noted fig and sweetness. Smooth on the tongue, infusion flavors very noticeable. Taste reaction was “this is a great tasting drink,” not “this is bourbon with extra flavors.” Body is smooth; palate is very flavorful and sweet; finish is extremely smooth.
What is better when it’s midweek and you’re feeling a little icky? A spritzer—more specifically, a spritzer made with bourbon.
Cherry Bourbon Spritzer
1½ oz. cherry-infused bourbon
4 oz. seltzer
Add bourbon to an ice-filled lowball glass and top with seltzer. Garnish with maraschino cherries or bourbon cherries.
This drink is perfectly light and refreshing. Maybe not very autumnal, but that’s OK. The cherry taste is just present enough without overpowering or becoming too sweet.
Yesterday we posted about the cherry-infused bourbon that was the byproduct of making bourbon cherries. In that post, we mentioned that it would make a nice addition in some cocktails, and today we have just such a cocktail. The suggestion for this cocktail actually came from @TheCocktailGeek, who is a person you should be following if you are on Twitter and like tasty libations. The cocktail is also in Diffords Guide, which is a great resource for cocktail lovers. The original Sir Thomas calls for cherry brandy, which we switched out for our cherry bourbon.
2 oz. bourbon
½ oz. cherry bourbon (or brandy)
½ oz. triple sec
½ oz. dry vermouth
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir until chilled. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a cherry.
The result is a delicious and pretty pink drink. It’s tasty and easy to drink, but don’t let the pink color fool you because the Sir Thomas is strong. The vermouth balances out the sweetness of the triple sec and cherry bourbon and then delivers the final kick through the aftertaste to remind you that this cocktail will in fact get you a little bit intoxicated. @TheCocktailGeek also suggests adding an absinthe rinse and a lemon twist. We’re definitely going to try that next time we say hello to Sir Thomas.
Not too long ago we made bourbon cherries. What we didn’t mention then is that after you’re done with the cherries, you can carefully strain the liquid through some cheesecloth to end up with cherry-infused bourbon.
I know what you’re thinking: cough syrup. Well, it is ever so slightly thicker than bourbon, but it is not syrupy. And while we wouldn’t necessarily recommend drinking this infused bourbon on its own, we do think it would add a lovely note to certain cocktails.
Last week we jarred up our apple-vanilla bourbon to let it steep for the week. We tasted it after about three days and decided it needed a lot more time. At that point, the apples hadn’t affected the bourbon flavor at all, while the vanilla smothered everything. We let it sit another three days, hoping the apples would grab hold. Fortunately, that’s exactly what happened.
The final product is a pleasant infusion. We used Berkshire Bourbon so we could end up with a super New Englandy product. I could imagine apple-vanilla bourbon as a fine addition to some Autumn orchard excursions. There’s an apple tartness followed by the vanilla smoothness to the flavor, all without completely masking the bourbon’s flavor.
That being said, this probably isn’t something we’re likely to drink straight. We’re more interested in how we can use it in cocktails. Of course we’ll be posting those results here as well.
As you can see, we repurposed an empty Hudson Four Grain Bourbon bottle to store this new creation in. Its label washed off easily and the cork is still sealing well. It looks like the multi-purpose aspect of these bottles is helping to offset the expense of the Hudson bourbon.
Another potentially fun situation we have on our hands is we now have a mason jar full of apples that have been soaking in bourbon for a week. There has to be something fun we could make with them, right?