Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Even Better


There is good, and then there is better.
You recall that awhile back I wrote about Eben Freeman's fat-washing technique to impart the flavors of any fat to any spirit. Brown butter rum, peanut butter bourbon, bacon vodka: there is no limit.

All the buzz these days is about bacon, but I expect this will change, as all things do. In the meantime, let a vegetarian teach you an even better way to infuse your spirit of choice with the smoky, meaty flavor of bacon.

Last week I was working on a cocktail for my upcoming competition, the Great Sconnie Sip-Off. The cantaloupe shrub came out nicely, as did the cucumber vodka, but the lavender rock-candy failed to perform in time for the preliminary trials. At the last minute I was left with nothing to present. I did what you would have done: I improvised.

I had some Roaring Dan's Maple Flavored rum in the house, and I bought some bacon. I used Freeman's technique of pouring the fat of the bacon into the spirit to give it bacon's flavor. It gave it smokiness, but it lacked umami. I bought more rum. I bought more bacon.

That night at work, I met a man who claims he makes the best bacon on earth. "What is your secret?" I asked breathlessly. He told me, and I will tell you. Cook it like barbecue: low and slow, paying careful attention to each slice as an individual. It took forever, but what I produced was bacon as gorgeous as any I have seen in life.

I put the fat and the bacon in the jar with the Maple-Flavored rum and what resulted was a spirit I knew would pass muster. Just to be sure, I brought it to my co-worker, Jo Curley. The girl loves bacon not in the obsessional way of hipsters, but in the true way of a connoisseur. She was hesitant to try it, worried I would have wasted perfectly good bacon. She was satisfied, but I was not. I riddled her with a machine-gun volley of questions. Does it taste like bacon? Is it weird? Is it good?

According to Jo, I hit the nail on the head. This is how I did it:

You will need one package of Patrick Cudahy Bacon, one bottle of Roaring Dan's Maple Flavored Rum and the patience to cook that bacon very slowly. You will also need a clean canning jar large enough to hold it all. Pour the rum into the jar, put the cooked, cooled bacon and its fat into the jar and let it sit on the counter in your kitchen overnight. The next day, put the jar in the freezer to separate out the fat. Spoon off the fat and remove the bacon. Strain the liquid through cheesecloth, and then through coffee filters until it is clear and lovely. That is all.

In case you wondered what kind of cocktail I made with it, it is pictured above, and its recipe follows.

Bacon Cocktail

1.5 oz. Bacon Infused Roaring Dan's Rum
.5 oz. Anderson's Maple Syrup
8 drops Bittercube Orange Bitters
Sprecher Ginger Ale
Combine rum, maple syrup and bitters in your mixing tin and shake. Pour into cocktail glass and top with ginger ale. Garnish with bacon.

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