Friday, March 23, 2012

Fun Behind Bars with Dy Mixes

Bacon Vodka: Your Questions Answered
Guest Blogger: Dy Mixes
More from her at: Fun Behind Bars

You know I've been infusing for a good long time now, and the infusion program at my bar is strong and healthy. One of our ongoing infusion projects is the Veggie Vodka that makes our Bloody Marys extra-savory and delightfully complex, but not spicier. The large jar is beautifully backlit and sparks conversations with our guests about infusions generally: how it's done, what can be done, how long it takes... then at some point my sixth sense starts tingling and I know what's next. "What if you could make bacon vodka?" I tell them bacon vodka has been made for years, that there's a bar a few towns over that's been making it, I've never tried it (am a vegetarian, or I would), but I bet it's not that hard. Today is my PSA for all the bacon-lovers who want to incorporate the smoky umami of bacon with their favorite spirit.

To make bacon-infused spirit, you'll use a technique called "fat-washing," which NY Bartender Eben Freeman popularized and perhaps perfected. I do love science, so for my geeks I will say that you are about to perform a solvent exraction of fat, wherein the volatile flavor compounds are pulled out of the fat by the spirit.

Back to the practical world. If you actually want to fat wash bacon into spirit, here's what you'll do: Start with a fatty, insanely smoky bacon. In a review of the available literature, most folks swear by Benton's Bacon -- but everyone agrees that whatever you use, it must be smoky to the extreme. Especially fatty bacon will also be helpful, as you're after the fat, not the meat. The ratio of fat-to-spirit is about 6 pieces of bacon for every cup of liquor. You will cook at least 5-6 pieces of bacon, then drain the fat. You will put the melted fat into a heat-proof glass jar (like a canning jar) with the spirit and mix it well. Put its lid on and let it infuse for 4-6 hours, shaking occasionally. Put it in the freezer overnight to seperate the fat, which you will then lift off. Strain the liquid, first through cheesecloth and then through coffee filters until it runs through easily, and is clear and lovely.

This makes me think about a few things, for example, nobody comes right out and says to use salt pork, but insofar as it is salty and fatty, it seems like a good fit for this project. If for some reason it were not smoky enough, you might add a little Liquid Smoke. Also, I think different bacons will lend themselves to different projects. For example, maple-smoked bacon seems particularly well-matched to bourbon, and I bet it would make a fine Old-Fashioned. This is PDT's Don Lee's blissfully-simple recipe:

2 ounces bacon-infused bourbon
1/4 ounce Grade B maple syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Twist of orange

Just to keep you thinking, fat-washing works for any type of fat, so think about fat-washing brown butter into amber or dark rum. A co-worker gave me a bottle of peanut-butter flavored vodka a few years back. The possibilities are only as limited as your imagination. Think duck-fat Grand Marnier for a Duck a L'Orange cocktail. ( pic left)

Finally, for a little extra credit: if you were not making cocktails, but wanted the pure flavor of the bacon, after the freeze, you could evaporate off the alcohol and be left the meaty equivalent of an essential oil.

Look forward to learning more about Dy in an upcoming interview and stay tuned for more of Fun Behind Bars!

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