A few weeks ago I was visiting a friend who is a certified bad ass mixologist. Every time I see him, which isn’t often enough, he’s always cooking up strange syrups and brews in which to make me happily drunk.
When I walked into his kitchen on this day there was a strange jar full of some new experiment on his counter. I asked him what it was and he just smiled.
So I opened it and took a whiff. BACON. Smokey bacon. And WHISKEY. Together in one happy liquid.
I took some notes on what he did and after confirming that the results were freakin’ delicious, I thought I’d reproduce the process here for making your own bacon bourbon! It turns out that it isn’t that hard really. Also included in this post is the perfect recipe for a bacon Manhattan!
Yield: 12 ounces bourbon.
12 ounces bourbon. I prefer Maker's Mark.
3-4 thick slices of bacon.
A jar of some sort with a tight lid.
Bacon Manhattan (one drink)
2 ounces bacon bourbon
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
Dash of Peychaud' s Bitters
Maraschino Cherries (garnish)
Crispy Bacon (garnish)
1) Render fat out of bacon by microwaving it for a minute or two or cooking it slowly in a pan. Be sure not to burn the bacon. Just get the fat out.
2) Add the liquid fat to the bourbon in a jar with a lid.
3) Let sit at room temp for 5-6 hours, shaking occasionally.
4) Freeze for at least an hour so fat solidifies.
5) Strain out fat solids. Once you get out the big pieces, use a coffee filter to make sure it's as clear as possible.
6) Store bourbon in the freezer or fridge. It should keep for many weeks.
Starting the Bourbon. There’s really no trick to this recipe. It just requires some time and patience, as do all good things. I definitely recommend using a pretty good bourbon for it though. The bacon flavor is not so intense that the bourbon quality doesn’t matter at all.
The end result is mostly bourbon with a tiny back taste of smokey bacon. So use decent stuff please.
To make this infusion, you just want the bacon fat. I’ve found that the best way to get as much fat as possible out of the bacon slices is to either cook them on low for 20 minutes, or just microwave them (covered) in a bowl until all the fat renders out.
It’ll only take a minute or two in the microwave. Be sure not to burn the bacon or it’ll end up giving a burnt flavor to the bourbon.
Once you have all your bacon fat, add it to your jar of bourbon! Depending on how fatty your bacon is, you’ll get varying amounts of fat from your slices. Ideally you want a few tablespoons of fat for the bourbon.
Add the fat to the bourbon and it should form little globs and float around.
It’ll probably solidify pretty quickly which is fine.
The Waiting. Let your bourbon sit at room temperature now for 5-6 hours. Ideally, you could give the jar a shake every half an hour or so just to stir up the fat. I’m not sure that it’s really necessary to do that though.
After letting the bourbon infuse for a few hours, stick the jar in the freezer for at least an hour. The bacon fat will all float to the top and become really hard. The bourbon obviously won’t freeze because it’s too alcoholic.
This was my bourbon after a trip to the ice box.
You should be able to scoop out some of the fat, but no matter what, you want to strain this through a coffee filter. This will remove any tiny bits of bacon or fat that remain in the liquid.
Straining bourbon through a coffee filter is a slow process. Just work slowly and don’t get in a hurry. It’ll eventually all drain through. Mine took probably 20 minutes to finish.
You can keep the finished bourbon in the freezer or fridge for many weeks without a problem.
It probably won’t last that long though.
The Manhattan. A good Manhattan is one of my favorite drinks in the world. You can make a bacon version now with just a few other ingredients.
Add a few ounces of the bacon bourbon to a mixer along with a small amount of sweet vermouth and a dash of bitters. Shake it well with some ice and then you can either serve it in a cocktail glass or on the rocks.
I’m a rocks guy myself. The bacon garnish is obviously optional, but I thought it looked good.
If I owned a bar, I’d charge $10 for this.
The thing that’s hard to describe about this drink is that the bacon flavor isn’t overpowering at all. After all, bourbon has a pretty intense flavor. It’s hard to overpower bourbon. So when you take a sip of this, you mainly get a familiar bourbon flavor, but then there’s this tiny smokiness near the end. It’s actually pretty subtle, but a really interesting addition.
If you’re a bourbon fan, a bacon fan, or just a cocktail enthusiast, you have to give this a shot.