Sometimes it’s easy to focus on the classics. The crisp, dry bite of a perfectly stirred Gin Martini; the nutty richness of a well made old fashioned; the smoky depths of a Sazerac or the rich fruity and herbal notes of a Woodford Manhattan.
Other times you need to push the boat out. Sometimes a reply of ‘make me whatever you want’ unlocks an impish desire to do something a wee bit silly, something unexpected, something like a bacon martini.
It might surprise you, but there are a huge number of variations of a bacon martini online. Most, posted by Canadians and the calorie consuming southern cousins are thick sweet and rich with maple syrup and occasionally sugar as well. Personally, my preference is for liver failure over obiesity so I’m going to lave the syrup for my pancakes and focus on the bacon and booze.
The Bacon Martini
Take a couple of rashers of bacon, streaky if you must, home cured wild if you can. Slap them on some foil and throw them under the grill, the grill should be hot and you should keep an eye on it, lest you be left with a charcoal martini. The idea is to get the bacon crispy, with most of the fat out of it (the surface of the finished drink should have tiny grains, NOT pearls of fat on the surface. Pat the bacon down with some paper towels to remove any excess grease and place one rasher into a mixing glass for each drink you intend to make. (you might want to do a couple of little rashers, as pictured above as a garnish, I’ve also found pancetta useful for this…)
Muddle the bacon with a big stick, it should break into little chips, increasing the surface area and releasing its bacon-y goodness. Add 55 mls of 42 Below vodka & 5 mls of 42 Below manuka honey flavoured vodka to the bacon. Ice the glass and stir it for about 20 seconds to achieve a silky level of dilution. If you have an excess of fat in the drink, it can be clarified by dipping a piece of bread quickly into the drink, absorbing the fat.
Strain the liquid into a martini glass and garnish with a small piece of charcuterie. Olives or roasted garlic could work too.
A big thanks to Jacob Prain, once upon a time barkeep at the Matterhorn in Wellington, New Zealand and more lately of Hamilton House and Chinatown in Shanghai for letting me in on this little gem of a drink.