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Review – Bakon Vodka

Posted by Reese On October - 4 - 2011

Everyone who enjoys cocktails, or rather, drinking in general, has dabbled in infusing spirits.  Most stick with straightforward combos: mango vodka, strawberry tequila, vanilla rum, etc.  The next step in that process is fat washing.  Specifically you’re adding a flavorful fat to a spirit and the alcohol and water soluble flavors in the fat are pulled into the spirit.  Once you’ve infused you remove the fat and you’re left with flavorful spirits.

The first time I heard about this method was Don Lee’s Bacon Bourbon.  Don used the infused bourbon to make PDT’s Bacon Old Fashioned.  Seeing this I was inspired.  I tried it myself and, I won’t say I failed, but I certainly didn’t succeed.  What I ended up with was an under-flavored bourbon that tasted okay in an Old Fashioned, but really wasn’t any better than it would have been with unadulterated bourbon.  And, what’s worse, I couldn’t find anything else to put it in.  It met the drain shortly thereafter.

With that, my homemade attempts at fat washing ended and I put savory infusions on the back burner and never really looked back.  So, when a bottle of Bakon Vodka (it’s bacon flavored, in case you hadn’t figured that out) turned up on my doorstep, my brain was immediately filled with concoctions of bacon delightfulness.  Think of the amazing bacon pairings people have been coming up with lately…bacon chocolate chip cookies (made them, they’re amazing), chocolate covered bacon (had it, also amazing), candied bacon (had it, amazing)…okay, this is getting repetitive.

The common theme there though is the sugar component, and while I definitely wanted to try that avenue, you’ll have to come back later for those results.  The first place I wanted to start was what seemed like the obvious use for this spirit, the Bakon Bloody Mary.  But first, let’s talk about the vodka itself.

Bakon Vodka has a distinctly bacony aroma.  It’s not the kind of bacon flavor you might get when you cook up your Sunday breakfast, though.  It was singularly porky.  No maple, very light smoke, very.  But, none the less definitely bacon.  And, while the flavor is good, it’s not something I’d ever drink on its own.  I think it’s the idea of it all that gets to me.  Okay, let’s see how it mixes.

Bakon Bloody Mary

Bakon Bloody Mary
2 oz Bakon Vodka
4 oz Tomato Juice
1/4 oz Lemon Juice
3 Dashes Worcestershire Sauce
1 Dash Hot Sauce
Pinch of Chipotle Powder
Heavy Pinch of Kosher Salt
2 Grinds of Black Pepper
Garnish with Veggies and Pickles
1) Combine ingredients in shaker with ice
2) Shake until well chilled
3) Strain into an ice filled Collins glass
4) Garnish with lemon and celery

I used my basic Bloody Mary recipe with one minor tweak.  I wanted a hint of smokiness so I added a pinch of chipotle powder and cut down the hot sauce.  The bacon comes through in the aroma quite clearly.  In the flavor it’s much less intense, but still present.  And, while it doesn’t added a super bacony punch, it adds a mellow, savory backbone to the cocktail that I really enjoy.  As for the added chipotle it did its job perfectly.  There was a light smokiness and just the right amount of spice.  This is definitely a must try for the folks in your life who lie in the intersection of bacon lovers and Bloody Mary lovers.

As for Bakon Vodka itself, I’ll give you this advice.  It’s tasty stuff, when properly applied.  Definitely don’t get this expecting to be able to use it in any vodka recipe.  The results will not be pleasant.  Though, when mixed in the right recipe the added complexity and savory quality, even in sweet drinks, is worth it.

† The product reviewed here was provided to me as a free sample. If you’re wondering what that means check out my sample policy.

Alcohol Helps Make You Sick

Posted by Reese On September - 30 - 2011

I’m a positive kind of guy. I don’t like to share bad news, but this one I felt needed to be told. We all know that alcohol is a diuretic and a mild poison. As a result if you drink too much you feel like death (e.g. the dreaded hangover). But, now comes the really sad news, it seems alcohol may also make you more susceptible to sickness. A new study shows that alcohol reduces the activation of pathways in the body responsible for responding to viral and bacterial infections.  “Such a reduction would impair the body’s ability to fight off infection.”

Now for a more happy note.  The results are based on drinking the equivalent of 4-5 drinks per day for 7 days straight.  Might explain why some folks get sick when they get home from vacation.  So, on the bright side, having a Hot Toddy when you’re feeling sick probably isn’t going to make you much worse off.  Just don’t binge on them for a solid week.  Which is probably solid advice anyhow.

[Via Gizmodo]

The Bären Pear

Posted by Reese On September - 29 - 2011

As promised, here is another tasty cocktail with Bärenjäger.  The original was a bit sweet for my taste so I tweaked it and got the levels just right.

The Baren Pear

The Bären Pear
1 oz Bärenjäger
1 oz Pear Vodka
1 oz Triple Sec
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
10 Small Mint Leaves
1) Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice
2) Shake until well chilled
3) Strain into a chilled cocktail glass
*) Double strain if you want to remove the mint bits

To add a bit of credence to the deliciousness of this cocktail I’ll simply say that Elisabeth has had 3 in the last week.  That says a lot.  The pear and honey flavors play together very nicely, neither overwhelming the other.  The triple sec and lemon add nice citrus notes with just a touch of sourness.  Finally, the mint plays through subtly.  This is a great end of summer drink.  Enjoy, friends.

Review – Bärenjäger

Posted by Reese On September - 27 - 2011

Ever sat down after a long day and craved a nice glass of honey?  Neither had I, emphasis on the had.  I sat down a couple nights back to write this review and ended up simply sipping the Bärenjäger and vegging.  And you know what?  I’d do it again.  You see, until you’ve sipped Bärenjäger, you assume it’s simply going to be a sweet, honey flavored liqueur.  Not so, well, not entirely so, at least.  Bärenjäger is, most definitely a sweet, honey flavored liqueur.  But it’s more than that.  Tasting it makes me think it literally is honey with some alcohol added.

Seems rather one-dimensional just hearing about it.  It goes deeper than that though, to use a lame pun.  Honey has a natural complexity to it.  The unique flavors from the flowers and the more complex sugar flavor.  You see, honey is a mix of molecules of fructose and glucose giving it a different flavor than table sugar which is purely sucrose.  For you sugar geeks out there, this is old news.  For the rest of us, a quick primer.  Sucrose is a disaccharide comprised of both glucose and fructose bonded as a single molecule of sucrose.  Seems like a sugar is a sugar, but not quite.  Here’s one of the interesting bits.  Glucose is less sweet than sucrose on it’s own, but, fructose is far sweeter, nearly doubly so.  So, where am I getting with all of this?  Simply put, the sweetness of honey is different than the sweetness of table sugar and you definitely pick it up sipping on Bärenjäger.

The color is that of thinned honey.  Funny, that.  The mouth feel is pretty incredible.  Barenjager is viscous, close to the texture of pancake syrup.  The flavor highlights the honey with spice notes filling in the background.  The sweetness masks the 70 proof punch exceedingly well.  So, how does it mix?  Wonderfully.  Here is my take on the Bäron von Bourbon from the Bärenjäger site.

Baron von Bourbon

Bäron von Bourbon (Cocktail Hacker)
1 1/2 oz Bourbon
1 oz Bärenjäger
1 oz Lemon Juice
1 Dash Aromatic Bitters
1) Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice
2) Shake until well chilled
3) Strain into a chilled cocktail glass

Bourbon and honey are a classic pairing and the lemon adds a crisp sour note.  I added a single dash of bitters to bump up the herbal complexity.  You don’t want as much as you’d use in a typical whiskey sour as you want the Bärenjäger to be able to shine.  If the drink is a too sweet for you as noted, try adding a bit more bourbon.

Check back later in the week for another tasty Bärenjäger recipe.

† The product reviewed here was provided to me as a free sample. If you’re wondering what that means check out my sample policy.

Drink Like A Pirate Day

Posted by Reese On September - 18 - 2011

Yar, me mateys.  On the morrow ye’ll be talking like a salty sea dog, but will ye be drinkin’ as much?  I’d bet me grog you haven’t planned for it.  Yarrrr, I can’t do that anymore.  To you native pirate talkers, my hat is off to you.  But seriously, tomorrow is Talk Like a Pirate Day.  What say we also drink like pirates and do the day up right?


Jolly Roger by JDM77

Grog is what you’ve likely heard that pirates drank.  And, to be traditional, you could certainly drink that as well.  Though, seeing as it’s simply a mix of rum and water, I think I’ll be going with something a bit more tasty.  As an interesting side note, the whole reason grog came about is because the sailors were originally given their water and rum rations separately.  Problem is, when some sailors saved up a few days rum rations and had them all at once, bad things happened.

So, let’s see what other options we’ve got.  Sticking with the rum I’m betting pirates often had punch when they came in to port.  The fruits were readily available and I’m certain they would have put them to good use.  But, if you were out at sea where fruit wasn’t readily available you likely would be drinking bumbo.  Bumbo is a mixture of rum, water, sugar and spices.  This drink seems like a natural offshoot of grog.  It was far more flavorful and the sugar would make it even better.

Let’s do a thought experiment.  Say you’re a pirate and you’re cruising the seas.  Being an opportunistic bunch, were you to come across a British Navy vessel, chances are, you’d raid them.  And during that raid, you’re likely to plunder some gin and lime cordial.  Can you say Gimlet time!  Same would go for brandy and whiskey.  You’re definitely not going to be seeing cocktails like those that I usually mix, but I think you’d be drinking far more than just grog.

All that aside, we’re not pirates and thankfully we have a lot more ingredients at our disposal.  So, here’s my vote.  Let’s drink like a pirate would have given they had the means.  For me and my friends that means we’ll be drinking Salty Dogs, Navy Grog and Rum Old Fashioneds, for the classic bumbo feel.

Yar, me friends.  Drink well, let yer sails be full and yer booty be plentiful.