Pork-Infuse Your Old-Fashioned: Fat-Wash Some Bourbon

We are lucky to be experiencing a libation renaissance --

when everything from vanilla beans to mint to rosemary can make old

drink favorites shiny and new again. The modern bartender seems to be a liquid magician, infusing alcohol with a bit of this, a bit of that. Why else would you belly up to the bar and throw down your hard-earned cash on a pricey cocktail?

So what makes bourbon better? Uh, bacon, of course. A small dose of smoky bacon flavor adds the unexpected to an old-fashioned, but drinking it straight from the bottle isn't entirely out of the question (yes, we did that). We'll give you a bacon-injected bourbon old-fashioned recipe, using with maple syrup, but first you need to learn a process called "fat washing."

Fat washing is basically like laundering your alcohol with a meaty, fatty substance to give it that bacon-fresh feeling. Then you freeze it and strain out the smoky, saturated good stuff. It's easy to do and might permanently alter your cocktail repertoire. Ready?

6 slices bacon
Heat-resistant container (to let bacon fat cool)
750 ml bourbon
2 seal-able glass containers (large enough to hold just over 750 ml each)
2 large bowls (large enough to hold 750 ml)
Fine mesh strainer
Coffee filters

1. Cook the bacon over very low heat. The purpose here is to render the fat. Once all the fat is rendered, pour it into a container and let cool to room temperature. Discard the cooked bacon (or consider it a salty snack-time bonus).

2. Once the bacon fat has cooled to room temperature, pour half the bourbon into a sealable glass container. Pour in the bacon fat. Pour in the rest of the bourbon. Shake well.

3. Let the fat-infused bourbon rest at room temperature for two to three hours.

4. Making sure the bottle is tightly sealed, place it in the freezer. Try to keep the bottle upright. Over time, the fat in the bourbon will congeal into large lumps, while the alcohol remains in liquid form. Leave in the freezer for at least four hours (or overnight).

5. Once the fat has solidified, remove the bottle from the freezer. Pour through a fine strainer into a bowl.

6. Line the strainer with coffee filters and slowly pour the bourbon back through the strainer into the container (or use another bowl if that's easier). You might need to remove and replace the coffee filters with new ones several times during this process.

7. Pour the finished bourbon into a sealable glass bottle for storing.

Bacon Maple Bourbon Old-Fashioned‏ Recipe 

(adapted from Don Lee, mixologist at PDT in the East Village, NYC)

2 ounces bacon-infused bourbon

2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 teaspoon pure maple syrup

1. Combine bacon bourbon, bitters, and maple syrup in a cocktail mixing glass. Add ice. 

2. Stir gently for about 20 seconds (it's better to make this drink stirred versus shaken).

3. Strain over ice in a chilled rocks glass, and garnish with a twist of orange.

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