Sunday, June 15, 2008
Mixology Monday- The Screen Door Cocktail
I know that I've been MIA for the last couple of MixMo's. My schedule has been completely crazy recently, with my consulting for a restaurant that just opened, helping to open another one due mid-July, my day job, etc etc. I could make excuses all day, but when I saw that the fine gentlemen at Scofflaw’s Den had chosen to host Mix Mo with a Bourbon theme, well, count me in. I'm probably missing some other deadlines somewhere, but I had to be a part of this.
Recently, I've been experimenting with a lot of Jerry Thomas' old drink recipes, especially a number of the ones featured in David Wondrich's great book, "Imbibe! From the Absinthe Cocktail to Whiskey Smash..". I've been interested in incorporating modern ingredients or styles into classic recipes. If you look past the unusual preparations on some of these ingredients, you'll see that this is simply a Fancy Whiskey Cocktail, nothing more, nothing less.
I also need to add a caveat to this cocktail. I'm using a bacon bourbon for this cocktail, and, while I would like to take credit for bacon bourbon, I actually saw Jim Meehan and Don Lee do this at the Grand Marnier Mixology Summit in Vail this year. I had been experimenting with fat washing before, and I am bacon obsessed, so when I tasted their bacon bourbon, I knew I had to attempt some of my own. For this batch, I used Bulleit bourbon as I felt both the flavor profile and the price point lent themselves to fat washing, and I'm very happy with the result.
In order to make your own Bacon Bourbon, the process is really pretty simple. Get some good bacon (I bought a pound of bacon at Whole Foods), cook it off, reserving the bacon fat, let the fat cool (but do not let it solidify), add to a fifth of bourbon, cover and keep in a cool dry place for 2 weeks. After 2 weeks, place the container of fat/bourbon in the fridge overnight, then strain the bacon fat out from the bourbon using a coffee filter lined chinois. Voila! You've got bacon bourbon, and thats the basic idea behind any fat washed liquor.
I was inspired to create this cocktail after a visit to the Screen Door, a wonderful restaurant here in Portland that makes a praline bacon with brown sugar and pecans that is to die for. Its one of the greatest bacons that I've ever eaten, and I wanted to take some of the qualities from this bacon (sweet, smoky, pecan) and translate this into a drink.I already had the bacon bourbon, so I had to find a way to get some smokiness into the cocktail. While a classic Fancy Whiskey Cocktail uses plain gum syrup, I decided to smoke some brown sugar, turn it into a simple syrup (1-1) and cold infuse it with toasted pecans to try to achieve the flavors that I want to create. Hot smoking the brown sugar isn't the easiest thing to do, but after 3 hours of hickory smoke, I had a large, rock hard cake of brown sugar with a heady barbecue aroma of hickory smoke. I shaved the cake of sugar back down into granules and made a 1 to 1 simple syrup to which I added some toasted pecans, and then did a 2 week cold infusion in my refriegerator in order to extract as much flavor as possible from the pecans. I will add one caveat to anyone attempting to recreate this simple syrup. However many pecans you decide to toast, double it. You'll thank me, as the cold infusion takes a lot of toasted pecans (I used 1 c pecans to 1 1/2 c simple) for the flavor to pull through.
Lets get to the recipe shall we?
The Screen Door Cocktail
2 oz Bacon infused Bulleit Bourbon
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
1/2 tsp Citronege
1 tsp Hickory Smoked Pecan Simple Syrup
garnish with a lemon peel over the top of this cocktail
I felt like this cocktail achieved what I was setting out to do. I didn't end up with a cocktail that was sickly sweet, instead, its a balanced cocktail with depth from the smoke and pecans. The lemon oil really seems to brighten some of the background flavors. Overall, I'm really happy with this one. I drink this and imagine myself sitting outside on the porch, somewhere on a humid, August night in Mississippi (I lived there once), watching fireflies dance in the air and listening to the symphony of cicadas as the sun slowly sets. Some drinks are just evocative of a time or a place, and for me, the Screen Door Cocktail has done just that.
Thanks for reading.