You're Only 2 Ingredients Away From DIY Bacon Bourbon

Sometimes the simple pleasures in life are what makes it all worthwhile. Like bacon. And bourbon. Together in a glass. And we're not talking about a bacon garnish or a bacon-flavored swizzle stick. We're talking smooth, rich bacon-infused bourbon. Even better? It's not a marketing gimmick designed to reel in bourbon enthusiasts with the promise of bacon-y goodness. It's a do-it-yourself blend — but it may take a leap of faith to give it a shot. The process is called fat-washing and, unlike botanical- or fruit-infused liquors, it changes not only the taste, but also the texture of bourbon, giving it a velvety finish.

Created out of curiosity in 2007 by Don Lee, the longtime beverage director at New York City's PDT (Please Don't Tell), an East Village speakeasy-style bar, the original version has just two ingredients: bourbon and bacon grease. In 2019, Lee shared his inspiration with Punch. And, in an interesting twist, it all started in David Chang's Momofuku Ssäm Bar.

"I remember going there one day and — I don't remember the specific dish — but it had these fat lardons of Benton's bacon," Lee recalled. "I'd never had anything like that before. I thought, 'This is the best bacon I've ever had.'" Kidding, Lee asked the chef to share some of the leftover bacon grease. He did and, the rest, as they say, is history. Lee experimented with combinations of bourbon and bacon grease, ultimately creating PDT's iconic craft cocktail, Benton's Old Fashioned.

Bring home the bacon

Since its debut in PDT's Benton's Old Fashioned, fat-washed cocktails have become a thing, with bartenders across the country experimenting with their own blends by incorporating all manner of fats, from peanut butter and olive oil to brown butter and coconut oil. Ready to give it a try? To authentically recreate PDT's fat-washed bourbon, you'll need 1 and a half ounces of Benton's bacon fat and 750 ml of Four Roses bourbon. If the bacon fat is cold, warm it in a small saucepan until it melts. Combine the bourbon and bacon fat in a heat- and freezer-proof container. Let stand at room temperature for four hours and then freeze for two hours. The fat will solidify at the top of the mixture. Remove the fat and drain the rest of the liquid through a cheesecloth-covered strainer.

Voilá! It's that easy. Ready for more? Take it a step further and make an original PDT Benton's Old Fashioned. Blend two ounces of the fat-washed bourbon with a quarter ounce of grade B maple syrup and two dashes of Angostura bitters. Serve the cocktail over ice with an orange twist. 

As we said, sometimes the simple pleasures in life are what makes it all worthwhile.