Thursday, August 11, 2011

Bacon Bourbon (Drunken Pigs)

As a southern girl I believe that bacon makes everything better.  Every household in the south has a jar of bacon grease in the back of the fridge just waiting to cook anything from frying eggs to grilling onions.  It’s the butter of the Bible belt.

I just can’t believe that I was above the Mason Dixon line when I found the most beautiful pairing of bacon that I ever have. BACON BOURBON.  Two southern favorites in one! Why had I never seen this wonder before?!  Well the bartender at the Savoy in Manhattan certainly knew what he was doing and gave us a few tips on how this infusion was made and before we unpacked our bags from the trip the first batch of MiddleBar Bacon Bourbon (MBBB) was steeping.  

Since 2010 MiddleBar has produced many batches of bacon bourbon and it goes in a flash.  We think we’ve perfected the recipe and there are actually a few very interesting things that we’ve found out along the road.

1 handle of Kentucky Bourbon (60 oz) 
We’ve tried Maker’s Mark and other midrange whiskies but we have found that a cheaper Kentucky bourbon works best.  Jim Beam is what we prefer because of it’s sweetness because something about the sweetness lends itself well to the saltiness of the bacon. 
1 pack of bacon 
It's not necessary to use something fancy here either, less expensive bacon usually has more fat than actual meat, and when making bacon bourbon that’s exactly what you want. I usually pick the fattiest pack of bacon I can find. 
1 cast iron skillet 
1 large bowl

1.)  Heat the cast iron skillet to medium-high heat, lay a single layer of bacon and begin frying. Do not cut into lardons (small pieces) because they are more difficult to remove from the grease.  
2.)  Remove the first layer of bacon and discard.  By discard I mean eat or keep for other bacon-y treats (see bacon bourbon popcorn).
3.)  Drain the pan and save the grease in a small bowl and quickly fry the remaining bacon.  Leaving the original grease in the pan while frying the 2nd and 3rd batch of bacon can burn the grease changing the color and taste. The fewer particles in the grease the better.  
4.)  Pour the entire handle of bourbon into the large glass bowl.  Slowly add the hot liquid bacon grease into the bourbon DO NOT STIR. I repeat. DO NOT STIR.  Stirring and disruption will cause cloudiness in the bacon and will make the bourbon oily which is just gross.
5.)  Let the grease and bourbon stand for 1 hour then carefully move the bowl into the refrigerator without disturbing it too much.  If you see grease around the sides of the bowl 1/2 way through the process you'd just as well throw it out.  The bourbon should remain pretty clear with all the fat on the top.  Let stand for 4ish more hours.  
6.)  Remove the bourbon and skim off the top layer of fat with a slotted spoon. 
7.)  Strain the bourbon twice through cheesecloth into a jug, bottle, etc. 

Keep in mind that I am not sure what the shelf life of bacon bourbon actually is because each batch we have made has been consumed before it could possibly spoil.  Please keep this in mind if you are storing your bacon bourbon for more than probably a week or 2.  Since it's alcohol you should be ok for a while but I'm no scientist so who knows. 

The cocktail

MiddleBar Old Fashioned

Glassware: Old Fashioned Glass

2 ½ oz bacon bourbon
½ oz Vermont maple syrup 
3 dashes of orange bitters

Shake well with ice and then strain over a large block of ice.

Garnish: Flame the peel of orange zest over the cocktail, run the peel around rim of the glass, and drop it in.  This allows the oils to caramelize into the drink which adds to the smoky quality of the drink.  Also a piece of sugar coated bacon is a bitchin' swizzle stick. 

This makes a great late summer cocktail while sitting on the porch and relaxing in the last rays of the summer sun. 

Cheers Ya’ll  

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