Monday, May 30, 2011
First, a little history. A number of years ago, while I was living in St. Louis, my good buddy Andy invited me to head on out to Montgomery County, MO for a night of dirt track racing, good food and drinking. How could I resist?
To make a long story short, the night was long on drinking and short on most everything else. The next morning we made for three hungover hombres. I asked Andy what he had for breakfast…and the answer was bacon and a watermelon. Oh, and nothing else to drink (the camp didn’t have potable water). So, bacon and watermelon it was!
Ever since then Andy and I have joked about a watermelon bacon cocktail. Yesterday I decided to try my hand at it (creating the pictured mess in the process!).
I early in the morning by infusing a 1/2 later of vodka with slices of bacon (yes, it was cooked!). I let the bacon sit in the vodka for about 6 hours and then put it in the freezer. The objective here was to get the fat from the bacon to solidify. After a couple of hours in the freezer I pulled it out and strained it, leaving myself with a slightly brownish, bacon tasting vodka. To say that the flavor was unusual would be an understatement. It did taste like bacon and vodka, but the aroma was less than enticing. But I didn’t let that stop me!
Next up was the watermelon. I pureed several cups of fresh cut, seedless watermelon. Then with my trusty sidekick Greg at my side I went to work. The first iteration was 1 oz of the bacon vodka, 1 oz white rum, 1/2 an egg white, 3 oz watermelon puree, 1/2 lime juiced and 1/8 oz of peach liqueur. How was it? Well, it was drinkable, but the peach actually drowned out the watermelon while the bacon as a little too heavy handed. Not a keeper.
For the second iteration I dropped the rum and replaced it with 1 oz of vodka. I also upped the watermelon to 4oz, kept the egg white, dropped the peach and added 1/8 oz of bar syrup (still with me?). This was better, but still … funky. While I was getting the creamy head I wanted from the egg white the whole thing was still disjointed and light on the watermelon flavor.
In the next iteration I cut the bacon vodka down to 1/2 oz, used 2 oz vodka, 4 oz of watermelon puree and 1/4 oz bar syrup. Now I was getting somewhere. The bar syrup was helping to pull the cocktail into balance and the watermelon and bacon flavors were also well proportioned. At Greg’s suggestion I opened up the liquor cabinet, looking for a flavored liqueur to add, hoping that this would be the final piece of the puzzle. After several sniffs of a number of options, I settled on maraschino liqueur. I added just 1/8 oz to the above proportions. Yes, we have a winner! The hint of cherry flavor from the maraschino liqueur was just what I needed to take the flavor load from falling completely to the bacon and watermelon. Both, however, were clearly present, with the maraschino providing a very nice flavor base.
- 1/2 oz homemade bacon infused vodka
- 2 oz vodka
- 4 oz watermelon puree
- 1/4 oz bar syrup
- 1/8 oz maraschino liqueur
Combine the ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake, shake, shake to chill and combine. Strain into a chilled 6 oz cocktail glass. Garnish with a watermelon chunk.
Whew! It was messy and took a lot of tries, but I think I finally got it. Andy, this one’s for you!