Here I am, circa 2010, enjoying a bacon old fashioned and some tater tots.
The Benton’s Old Fashioned, made with orange, maple syrup, bitters, and bacon-infused bourbon, is a really interesting drink, and it’s not just gimmicky - it actually tastes good. Drinking meat seems fairly horrifying, but somehow the addition of bacon gives the old fashioned a smokiness and robustness you never knew it needed. The Benton’s is a staple of the PDT cocktail menu, and it’s one of their most ordered drinks.
While hunkered down during our recent cyclone, I had the idea to make some bacon infused bourbon. And then I had the idea to turn the Benton’s Old Fashioned into a hot toddy, because it is punishingly cold outside and why not? I was a bit worried that bacon in a hot drink would just be incredibly strange, but I shouldn’t have been: my bacon hot toddy was only a little odd, a pleasantly surprising kind of odd. It's warm and full, with a subtle smokiness that resolves itself into a round sweetness. This weird little toddy is the perfect sort of thing for drinking around a campfire, or just in your tiny apartment when the weather outside gets to be too damn much.
Benton's Hot Toddy
1.5 oz (or more, I don't know your life) of bacon-infused bourbon
1 teaspoon maple syrup (grade B preferred)
1 cinnamon stick
1 whole anise star
5 whole cloves
slice of orange
Combine the bourbon, maple syrup, and spices in a mug or heat-proof snifter. Add the boiling water: squeeze the orange slice (but not too much, or it'll get all pulpy) and drop it in.
(This toddy recipe, as ever, is adapted from Art of the Bar, a cocktail book I never get tired of.)