This past September I was over at a labmate's apartment for the Boston area celebration of International Bacon Day. As you might imagine, there's not much to International Bacon Day besides lots and lots of bacon, with plenty of whisk(e)y to wash it down. The brilliance of the festivities comes with the creative applications of bacon.
My initial contribution, bacon chocolate chip cookies, wasn't bad but it was quickly shadowed by the collective efforts of the revelers. The inspiration escapes me now, but it wasn't long into the party that we had set our eyes on a practical bacon straw. While the host and his friend went out for reserves I went to business, wrapping bacon around a bundle of buttered skewers. After half an hour in a hot oven the bacon had cooked into solid, waterproof tube that could be used to sip everything from rye to Bloody Mary's.
The pictures documenting that day were lost due to an unfortunately taxi incident, so the telling has had to wait until today when I finally had time to recreate the infamous bacon straw. This time I used 1/2'' copper pipe left over from an earlier project, wrapping two rashers around in opposite chiralities (one a clockwise helix, the the other a counter clockwise helix). The two layers are critical for a watertight seal.
After 30 minutes in a 400 F oven the meat had shrunk around the pipe and formed a continuous piece of succulence. I had suspected the 1/2'' diameter would be too large, but it proved just fine for sipping from the full glass; it only became a problem when trying to slurp up the final few drops.
Beyond the novelty, the bacon straw adds some welcome notes to spirits. In addition to providing subtle smokey and savory flavors, the bacon contributes fat which dissolves into the alcohol quells some of the more astringent vapors*. It's a perfect addition for overproofed ryes such as Rittenhouse.
Of course, the bacon straw is far from finished. Additional flavors can be added by spicing the bacon before roasting; cinnamon, nutmeg, black pepper, chile, coriander, cardamon... well just about any spice comes to mind. Any structural issues could be remedied by the addition of transglutamtes (think meat glue) in between the two layers of bacon.
The possibilities are near endless. Who's up for some "collaborative research"?
* For those interested in the details: alcohol readily dissolves fat, and once in solution the fat binds with some of the less delicious esters in the alcohol. Once bound, the unfavorable esters don't contribute nearly as much to taste and aroma. Fat washing takes this a step further, adding much more fat and straining it out before serving the spirit.