As anyone who’s ever tried Bakon Vodka knows, salty, fatty bacon translates beautifully into drinks. What you may not know? It’s one of the easiest flavors to infuse into your own vodka at home, thanks to a simple technique with an unappealing name: fat washing.
It’s a simple process: Pour bacon fat into a jar filled with vodka, shake, wait, freeze and strain—you can even snack on a couple of strips of bacon while you wait for the flavors to infuse. In the end, you’re left with a rich, savory spirit that adds depth and silky texture to cocktails. But like the type of vodka you choose to infuse with all that salty goodness, your choice of bacon matters.
In the interest of science, savory cocktails and trying as many kinds of bacon as we could get our hands on, we fat washed vodka with four different varieties of bacon to see how different bacons affect the flavor of homemade bacon vodka.
Here, your guide to what type of bacon to choose for your next bottle of salty, savory bacon vodka.
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For a Super Potent Vodka: Applewood Smoked Bacon
On its own, applewood-smoked bacon has a rich, smoky flavor—but that didn’t exactly translate into the vodka. Our homemade applewood smoked bacon vodka had the most potent smell of the bunch, with more sulphuric notes than you would expect (or want) from bacon. The flavor, however, had a mild sweetness and a faint smokiness. This fat-washed vodka would be great in a drink strong enough to mask the scent—think a tomato and spice-smothered Bloody Mary.
For a Peppery Bacon Vodka: Uncured, Dry Rubbed Bacon
We had high hopes for the dry rubbed bacon. The bacon itself was the most flavorful after cooking—it was delightfully thick and fatty, with caramelized edges. Once the fat infused into the vodka, however, it became a pale shadow of its crispy, flavorful counterpart. While the vodka was very savory, it was not immediately clear that bacon was responsible for the flavor. Subtly flavored with spicy hints of black pepper, dry rubbed bacon vodka is a bacon vodka for vodka lovers.
For a Sweet-Savory Vodka: Maple Bacon
If you dream of drinkable pancakes and waffles, maple-cured bacon vodka is an easy and scrumptious shortcut to make that dream a reality. This was our favorite of the bunch by far. The bacon we used was cured with a maple syrup-infused solution and it really showed—not only in the salty maple aroma of the vodka, but also in its balanced flavor. The vodka tasted even more like maple than the bacon itself. This vodka is the perfect base for a bacon-infused Martini or any other spirit-forward cocktail.
For a Mild Flavored Vodka: Cured, Hardwood Smoked Bacon
Basic, everyday cured bacon is just not very exciting. You can find this kind of bacon in any grocery store and on every bodega breakfast sandwich. When used to fat wash vodka, it leaves behind a faint bacon-y smell and flavor, but nothing that could compare to the maple or applewood varieties we tried. Of all of the fat washed vodkas, this one tasted the most like the original spirit, making it a subtle (if snore-worthy) base for just about anything.