Bacon has been a running food trend for some time now. Chocolate bacon candy bars, bacon cupcakes, bacon peanut brittle, you get the idea. You can buy shirts, boxers, and tea towels proclaiming your love for bacon.
Bakon Vodka was released in 2009 as the first “commercially available bacon-flavored vodka,” according to a press release from the drink’s founding company Black Rock Spirits. Bacon and alcohol sounds like a great idea and winning combination, at least to most people I’ve asked. Many mixologists have only good things to say about Bakon. And yet, it took me until the end of 2011 to actually try it.
I love bacon as much as the next person and am drawn to unusual cocktail ingredients. So when I first saw Bakon Vodka at Sam’s Fine Wine, Spirits & Beer in Lexington, it was tempting to lay down the $30 for an entire bottle and try it. But I didn’t. Something held me back. And I’m somewhat glad.
Sitting in a bar on a trip to Iowa at the end of December, I looked up to the very top shelf and saw Bakon Vodka. The waitress told me the bar finally stocked it because so many customers wanted it for their Blood Marys. Before they had it, they’d taken to frying up fresh bacon and blending it into their cocktails instead. I ordered some.
Color: Clear and slightly viscuous.
Nose: Smoky, warm, a little pepper. It really is a little like sticking your nose up to the fatty part of a piece of lightly fried bacon.
Taste: On first sip, remarkably like the fatty part of a bacon strip. I was prepared to enjoy the rest. Second sip, however, a chemical flavor sneaked in underneath. Some critics have called this vodka “clean,” and I’m not sure why. The flavor, even on the first sip, tasted muddied to me. Third sip, almost all I could taste was a minerally, chemical taste that gave me a headache. My drinking partner, by contrast, was done after the first sip.
Mouthfeel: Although the vodka feels dry on the tongue and palate, it left me with a oily or greasy sensation on my lips, not unlike real bacon.
Some critics, like The Tasting Panel magazine, have given the product much more positive reviews. Also, it may be much better mixed into a drink with tomatoes or chocolate, but I think I’ll stick to frying up the real stuff if I ever want a bacon-y cocktail.
If you would like to try for yourself (and I encourage you to), the vodka is now available in most states, including South Carolina in the Columbia area. But I would recommend looking for it or asking after it in a bar first before you buy all 750 ml. And maybe try it in a Bloody Mary or chocolate martini.