Bacon. Washed. Bourbon.
Do I have your attention now? What better way to re-visit this neglected repository than with a tale of bacony-boozy deliciousness?
Basically, it began with me lying to my sister-in-law. I told her I was pretty certain Legacy carried Bakon vodka, which she had been wanting to pick up for caesars. Instead of calling and checking, we drove all the way over to find it sold out (which it had been for a long, long time – go Erin!). She was giving me sad-face, so I did what any good SIL would do – I suggested making our own!
I’ve been meaning to try fat-washing for a while, and I don’t know why it took me so long to get around to it – the process is pretty damn easy. If you can fry up bacon, you can make delicious, porky booze! So after researching a few dozen how-tos, I smushed them all together with some common sense to come up with this method:
- Purchase your desired spirit(s). We chose Russian Standard Vodka (my favourite for infusions – it’s cheap, clean and neutral) and Four Roses Bourbon (same goes).
- Purchase your bacon. Buy more than you think you’ll need. We bought the 1kg package of Harvest bacon, which wasn’t the best choice – while it’s damn delicious, it’s fairly lean. You want something fattier, but still decent quality (because, duh, flavour). I’m going to keep my eyes peeled for the seldom seen pack of (super fatty) bacon ends from Harvest, next time.
- Locate yourself some wide-mouth jars, around a pint in size. We actually ended up using our unreturned Earnest Ice Cream jars, because their tops are nice and wide and, also, we never remember to return them, so we have lots.
- Cook off the bacon in a pan. The pan’s important, as you’ll render more fat than if you cook it in the oven. Be prepared to do lots of batches. As each batch comes out of the pan, pour the fat into some kind of container. We used a pyrex liquid measure, and poured until we got 1/2c or so each time. At that point…
- Pour the fat into your jar, and then add your spirits (we filled them to around 2/3 – 3/4 full altogether). Shake it like a polaroid picture, and set on the counter.
- Leave that jar on the counter for about half an hour while the fat separates from the liquour, and then place it in the freezer for a couple of hours or so.
- Repeat those steps until you run out of bacon or spirits.
- After the alotted time, pull your jars out of the freezer. The fat should be a solid layer on top of the spirits, now.
- Open your jar, and rather gently break through the fat layer with a spoon. Or knife. Or spork. Whatever. Break through, and remove the chunks of solidified bacon fat. You can toss ’em, or reserve them for cooking.
- The straining process depends on how fastidious you are. I’d recommend straining through a fine mesh strainer into/through a coffee filter, though cheesecloth works too. Just be aware that, as it’s not as fine, some solids might make it through, so it doesn’t store as well.
- Pour the brew into your container of choice (I use flip-top bottles). And you’re done! Be sure to store in the fridge.
See, easy! Time consuming, but easy. On the bright side, you’ll be left with a lot of crispy, delicious bacon just sitting on your kitchen counter…I’m sure you can figure out something to do with that. Nancy (the SIL) used a couple pieces in place of beans in her caesers, for instance. I just nommed it.
The nice thing about fat washing is that it’s great for instant gratification. Generally, infusions take weeks, but you can start this in the afternoon and make yourself something delicious that evening. In fact, I have a suggestion for that:
The Maple Bacon Bourbon Sour (because bacon. and maple. of course)
- 2oz. bacon infused bourbon
- 1 oz. lemon juice
- 1/4 oz. maple syrup
- 1 egg white (beaten – stolen tip from Jeffrey Morgenthaler)
- 2 dashes black walnut bitters
Combine all ingredients in a shaker and dry-shake. Add ice, and shake more. Strain over ice into a rocks glass. Garnish as you like – I just dripped a drop of the black walnut bitters for the smokiness on the nose.
Now that I’ve fat-washed, what’s next? Chorizo tequila? Duck confit vodka? Who knows!
While it’s not chiefly thought of as a ‘watering hole’ (I would assume), it’s well enough known that Hawksworth Restaurant boasts one of the more kick-ass bar programs in the city. Hell, beverage programs in general, as their wine & beer are certainly tops as well. In that serendipitous way things sometimes go, yesterday evening allowed me a broader perspective on that program than I’d normally get. And no, that’s not code for me drinking to sloppiness (just short, thanks ever-so).
The plan was to meet up with a friend I hadn’t touched base with in over a year, have a drink or two, catch up. The reality was just that (which was lovely – thanks Jenn!), and then Alex showed up 2 hours in with another cook, a German server, and a freshly-minted sommelier in tow. As much as that sounds like the start of a really questionable joke, it worked out to everyone ordering different cocktails, most via “surprise me!”, and we got to sample a whole lot of excellence.
So I figured I’d give a run-down of some of my favourites for the evening:
The Incognito – Our server recommended this as my first drink, as it’s creator was presiding over the bar. Turns out, never doubt your server (at least here…elsewhere, discretion may be advised). This thing starts with hopped tequila (which I was granted the method for, and which I shall chronicle my attempt at, here, down the road) and carries on in a fairly spot-on cocktail impression of an IPA (Green Flash Brewing West Coast IPA specifically, apparently). Amaro for bitterness, with grapefruit, vanilla & apricot flavours to round it out. I kind of wonder if this is what a good IPA tastes like for people who, unlike me, can taste anything other than ‘beer’ when they drink it.
Red Hook (Meat Hook?) – Someone else’s ‘surprise me’, our server delivered it with the name Meat Hook, though it’s listed on the bill as a Red Hook. Whichever would likely work if you wanted to order one. And if you like peaty scotch, you should. This one’s a bourbon base finished with Ardbeg, so it basically smells and tastes like a campfire – with a bacon finish. Never a bad thing. Well, rarely, but not here.
Nikka White Whiskey – Leave it to the som to order the obscure Japanese whiskey. But hey, it’s delicious – all dried flower-y. Which sounds weird in theory, but ’twas lovely in practice.
Also awesome: Corpse Reviver no.2 (easy on the Absinthe, so it’s nice and herby rather than overbearingly anise-y) and the straightforward Whiskey Sours. And most everything else, really. Oh, and the Hotel Georgia for a never-fail bet.
I’m plotting that hopped tequila now. And though I got the instructions for that, I’ll need to figure out the rest of the drink myself, as well as other applications. Ideas? Suggestions?