But bacon-flavored vodka? That just makes me want to hurl. Which I know because I tried it about a year ago in a bacon martini, and after drinking just half the thing, I wanted to fucking hurl. It tasted kind of like a shot of bacon fat and kerosene--like a salty martini with the dim flavor of greasy pig lurking in the background. Just writing about it now makes me sick to my stomach all over again.
So imagine the joy with which I greeted the headline from newser.com: Forget fruit and veggies, these vodkas feature the flavor of meat.The piece is all about the new smoked salmon flavored vodka being bottled and distributed by the Alaska distillery in Wasilla, AK (insert Sarah Palin joke here)--meant primarily as a component in fish-flavored Bloody Marys (because who wouldn't love that?), but also being used by some bartenders as a core spirit in other, less savory cocktails.
Like...what? Salmon shooters?
Apparently, yes. The Newser piece quoted a bartender in Alaska who serves the stuff as shots and uses it to make martinis. "Either you eat the piece [of salmon] or you drink it. One's going to give you a buzz, one's going to fill your belly."
The bacon vodka I had was homemade--a process that basically involved soaking some bacon in a jug of vodka, straining and serving. About a year ago, Seattle-based Black Rock Spirits released what might have been the first commercially-available meat vodka called Bakon Vodka and sold with the tag line, "Pure. Refreshing. Bacon."--which, not for nothing, is kind of funny. It took two years for the guys at Black Rock to develop their product. The crew from Alaska went through 47 different formulations and experimental batches before finally hitting on one that they thought was drinkable. I'm fairly sure that the development of the bacon vodka I tried went something like this.
First Drunk Dumbass: What's in the fridge?
Second Drunk Dumbass: Uh... We got some bacon and a bottle of vodka.
Because my first experience with meat-infused spirits was so nasty I am somewhat skeptical about the potential for meat liquor being made even under strict laboratory conditions. I would be curious to see what the bartenders at places like the Zig Zag Cafe or Tavern Law (both reviewed this week) would be able to do with the stuff, but in the meantime, here's a few suggestions--from the recipe development team at Black Rock, from some local bartenders and from me.
1½ oz. Bakon Vodka in a pint glass filled with ice.
Fill glass with tomato juice
1 dash each of celery salt and ground black pepper
2-4 dashes each of Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco
1/8 tsp. horseradish
Shake and pour into a salt rimmed pint glass. Garnish with a celery stalk and your
favorite pickled vegetables.
The Elvis Presley (from Scott Marx at the Rock Bottom Brewery in Bellevue):
1 part Bakon Vodka
½ part hazelnut liqueur
½ part banana liqueur
splash of cream
Shake with ice and served like a Martini or strained into a shot glass.
Gin Tartare (from me):
2 oz gin
1 order beef tartare
Pour gin over ice in a cocktail shaker. Add meat. Shake, strain and serve.
Salmon Vodka Cream Sauce (from me, again):
Salt and pepper to taste
In a hot pan with butter, saute the salmon filets. Remove them from the pan when finished, add shallots. When shallots begin to brown, deglaze with salmon vodka, let flame, then add cream, diced tomatoes and enough tomato paste to pink up the sauce a bit. Touch with a little cayenne pepper and serve over salmon filets.
Perfect Salmon Martini (guess who?):
Splash of dry vermouth
A bottle of salmon vodka
Pour gin over ice in a cocktail shaker. Add a splash of vermouth, shake, strain and serve in a martini glass with an olive. Take the bottle of salmon vodka and throw it away.
If anyone else has any suggestions (or if you're a bartender that actually would consider using this stuff), you know what to do...