Monday, 19 January 2015

How to make Bacon Infused Bourbon

Photo credit: Mark Hardie under CCL
Vegetarians, vegans, pescetarians, and all other non-meat eaters, avert your eyes...

Pig lovers pay attention. It’s time to get that bacon sizzling!

We all know that bourbon and bacon are perfect partners; one’s dark sugary sweet and woody, the other’s salty and smoky. Together, they’re a force to be reckoned with. Last year Jo supplied us with a bloomin’ brilliant Bourbon Bacon Jam recipe, and we’ve also had similar flavour combination recipes with Laura’s Sticky Bourbon Sweet Potato Chips and my Bourbon & Coke Beef Brisket. This time though, we’re not giving you another ‘cooking with booze’ post, it’s all about bridging the gap between eating and drinking, adding savoury to your sweet, and creating more of a sensory experience. So...

How to make bacon infused bourbon.

You might have heard of the process ‘fat washing’ before; not particularly appetising really, is it? But trust us, this method of flavouring any spirit with a fatty food of your choice is a stroke of genius! And actually, it’s not as complicated as you think. All you need to do is a little bit of prep work.

Fat washed bacon infused bourbon was made famous thanks to the Benton’s Old Fashioned, created by Don Lee at PDT in New York, and has really grown in popularity over recent years. Everyone has their own recipe for how to layer the flavours, but thanks to a new Christmas present – Duck & Waffle: Recipes & Stories (as featured in our Cocktail Gift List) – I was able to follow a rather special one from Richard Woods, Head of Spirit and Cocktail Development at Samba Brands Management.

My other half and I decided that this New Years Eve we’d experiment with some swankier cocktails, and having wanted to try fat washing for ages, this was the time do it. The recipe calls for you to make a homemade water bath, so get your science geekery mixed with some chef skills on! It also instructed us to make a Bacon & Salted Caramel Manhattan with the bourbon; yup, you need to make that too, and you’ll find out how at the end of the post.

For now, get to grips with this little piggy that went into bourbon. It’s certainly weird, but super moreish!

Bacon Infused Bourbon
(makes enough for approx 5 cocktails) 

  • 8 rashers of smoky bacon
  • 350ml Bourbon (something like Woodford Reserve) 
  • Also needed: ziplock freezer bag/sugar thermometer/saucepan/sealable non-reactive container/muslin

  1. Cook the bacon in a frying pan until crisp. Once cooked, turn off the heat and let the bacon rest for a few minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare your homemade water bath. Pour water two-thirds of the way up the sides of a deep saucepan or wok and place over a medium heat. Do not let the water boil, as this will damage the quality of the alcohol (you want it at a constant 60C).
  3. Pour the bourbon into a large ziplock freezer bag and add the bacon (complete with any fat and juices). Seal the bag, removing as much air as possible and making sure you don’t tear it. Put the bag into your water bath and leave for 55 minutes, then remove and place on a tea towel to dry. Transfer the mix to a non-reactive container, seal and place in the freezer for 2 hours.
  4. When you take it out of the freezer you will notice that the freezing process has made the bacon fat separate and solidify, allowing the alcohol to be filtered off cleanly and clearly. Line a funnel or sieve with two-fold muslin (a coffee filter or tea towel works well too) and put it over an empty glass jar or deep container. Remove the bacon pieces, then strain the liquid through the muslin – this process can take up to 30 minutes. When ready, put a lid on and reserve. 
Photo credit: Sam Howzit under CCL

Benton’s Old Fashioned
(serves 1) 

Glass: Tumbler
Garnish: Orange twist
  • 60ml Bacon Infused Bourbon 
  • 7.5ml Maple Syrup
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters 
Method: Stir all ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker, then strain into your ice-filled tumbler. Garnish and serve.

Bacon & Salted Caramel Manhattan
(serves 1) 

Glass: Chilled Martini/Coupette
  • 65ml Bacon Infused Bourbon 
  • 25ml Sweet Vermouth 
  • 15ml Salted Caramel Liqueur (see below) 
  • 5ml Sugar Syrup 
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters 
For the Salted Caramel Liqueur
(makes enough for approx 5 cocktails) 
  • 30g Caster Sugar
  • 10ml Water 
  • 1 tsp Salt 
  • 100ml Vodka 
  1. Once you’ve made your bacon infused bourbon, make the salted caramel liqueur. Put the sugar into a large saucepan over a high heat. Allow the sugar to brown and caramelize, then add the water and salt, stirring all the time. Once the sugar has burnt and turned a treacle-like liquid, remove the pan from the heat and add the vodka, stirring constantly to prevent the caramel solidifying. Allow to cool.
  2. Line a funnel or sieve with two-fold muslin (or coffee filter or tea towel) and put it over an empty glass jar or container. Strain the caramel liquid through the muslin to catch any bits of solidified caramel – this will only take a few minutes. Put a lid on and reserve. 
  3. To make your Manhattan, combine all the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice cubes and stir until icy cold, then strain into a chilled glass.

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