How to make vodka bacon-flavored?
March 29, 2008 8:54 PM   Subscribe

How can I infuse bacon flavor into vodka? The product doesn't need to be vegan or kosher or anything special---just want to go into a kitchen and whip up some bacon-flavored vodka.

I know you can leave, say, lemon zest in a bottle of vodka for a few days and get lemon-flavored vodka, but will it work with bacon? My primary concern is whether the lovely greasy flavor of bacon is fat-soluble, in which case it probably won't partition out into a polar environment like water and ethanol. Has anyone tried this?

I'm only interested in methods that can be done in a reasonably stocked kitchen, without even specialized bartender-ware, if such things exist, so please no industrial or laboratory sep-funnel-and-reflux solutions. Although if bacon-flavored vodka exists, I would dearly love to know how they make it.
posted by d. z. wang to Food & Drink (19 answers total) 48 users marked this as a favorite

Well done, Inspector! You beat me to it.
posted by mostlymartha at 9:04 PM on March 29, 2008

I wonder if you could cut down the three weeks by cutting up the bacon (as to increase the surface area).

I love vodka and I love bacon, but that's disgusting.
posted by 0xFCAF at 9:18 PM on March 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

Sir, would you please add an infusion of onion and sour cream as well - then you will have the Lithuanian national drink. Labai ačiu!
I wonder if liquid smoke would be of help here. Or perhaps some of the vegetarian alternatives to bacon. I'd look in to the less degradable ingredients of Fake-Os, and go from there.
Good luck on your fine quest!
posted by ikahime at 9:28 PM on March 29, 2008

You could also try dissolving bacon salt in the vodka if you're impatient.
posted by backseatpilot at 9:56 PM on March 29, 2008

I use ethanol at work to dissolve previously-extracted water-insoluble food components. You don't get all of it but certainly most, ethanol is a pretty reasonable organic solvent. My resulting extract slurry retains a lot of the flavour and scent of the original food, although the colour is usually different by then.

So I see no reason why the method linked by Inspector.Gadget won't work. Lots of the good stuff in bacon is in the meat after all, not just the fat, and with vodka you should get a pretty good mix of organic and aqueous compounds so the flavour won't be too weirdly skewed.

I'd use fairly lean bacon, since the fat isn't going to add too much flavour and could trap volatile compounds that would otherwise end up in the vodka, and I'd chop it up to increase surface area as 0xFCAF has already suggests. Keeping it in the dark makes sense, volatile compounds tend to degrade in the light, and straining the fat would get right of the chopped bacon as well.
posted by shelleycat at 10:21 PM on March 29, 2008 [2 favorites]

I have a friend who does this, as he bartends at a fancy speakeasy in NYC and has created a signature bacon-infused cocktail. He uses high quality Benton's bacon, fries it up, reserves the fat, and infuses Elijah Wood bourbon, only with the fat. After freezing, the fat is easy to remove, but the flavor from the fat has worked its way into the bourbon. No actual bacon pieces are required. Just the fat.

My bartender friend then adds some angostura bitters and maple syrup
to make a Benton's Old Fashioned. I am convinced he is a genius. Discussion on eGullet about fat washing and bacon flavored vodka.

This general technique is called fat washing, and you can use any fat to do so. My friend also makes a knockout drink called a Cinema Highball. Coca Cola and popcorn-and-butter-infused rum. I've also seen brown butter rum at a restaurant in NYC called Tailor, where the resident mixologist is experimenting with fat washing and other craziness.
posted by kathryn at 10:35 PM on March 29, 2008 [26 favorites]

I haven't tried this with bacon, but having played with other cured meats you should be cautious about saltiness. Salt will probably be much, much more soluble than the various delicious bacon chemicals, so I'd try to start with something as low on the sodium as possible to avoid having an unbalanced drink at the end.
posted by Schismatic at 10:37 PM on March 29, 2008

I am going to make some bacon vodka and make a Bloody Mary with a strip of fried bacon and a peeled hardboiled egg. This will be my new Sunday breakfast.

Oh... you're a writer!

There are bacon-flavored candies out there. I bet those dissolve nicely in vodka, and the sugar would probably even improve the overall effect. Sort of like bacon kool-aid with a kick.
posted by rokusan at 10:43 PM on March 29, 2008 [2 favorites]

(Note: this also solves the saltiness problem, perhaps.)
posted by rokusan at 10:43 PM on March 29, 2008

Followup: Here's someone infused Marker's Mark with bacon, using only the fat, and in a 48 hour time period.

I'm guessing that it doesn't take a lot of bacon fat (the thread I linked recommends 1oz per 750 mL) and it doesn't take a lot of time to get good results, so it that's the case, saltiness won't be an issue. Three weeks, as cited in the aforementioned recipe, seems like overkill. Of course, YMMV.
posted by kathryn at 10:54 PM on March 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

posted by toxic at 10:59 PM on March 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

I was obviously totally wrong about the fat (I work with fruit so is understandable). So you probably want streaky bacon then, to give lots of those yummy fat soluble flavours.
posted by shelleycat at 11:15 PM on March 29, 2008

Smoked malt from Bamberg (check your homebrew supplier) adds a distinctly bacon-like aroma and flavour to beers. Steep some in your vodka. I suppose you could just add liquid smoke, but I'm not sure it'd be the same.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:34 AM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

I don't know if it will help with vodka, but you can sprinkle bacon-flavored goodness on everything else thanks to the invention of Bacon Salt.

It's also the only company I know of that got it's initial financing from money won on America's Funniest Home Videos.
posted by Frank Grimes at 8:56 AM on March 30, 2008

Wired just had an article on making your own infused vodka. They stuck with boring old fruit instead of the new hotness, bacon.
posted by ikahime at 9:13 AM on March 30, 2008

jonmc, stynxno, and I had bacon martinis and bloody marys at a NYC meetup, with Slim Jim swizzle sticks. The martinis were really nasty. I didn't try the bloody mary, but it didn't appear to be too bad. If you're in the NYC or Las Vegas area, hit the Double Down Saloon, and you can try one before you go through the trouble of making your own.
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:59 PM on April 3, 2008

Update: Recipe for The Benton's Old-Fashioned with detailed instructions on how to infuse bacon into bourbon. Note that he specifies 1 oz. bacon fat per 750 mL of your spirit, infused at room temperature for 4-6 hours.
posted by kathryn at 9:00 AM on April 7, 2008 [2 favorites]

A guy I know did some research on a similar topic several years ago.
posted by bink at 11:14 PM on April 8, 2008

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