Cocktail Challenge: Bacon bits 

Jonathan van Herik of Rainbo Club makes a meaty cocktail with a vegan ingredient.

Challenged to make a cocktail with fake bacon bits by Celina Dzyacky of Lula Cafe, Jonathan van Herik, a bartender at Rainbo Club, chose to work with McCormick Bac'n Pieces, made of artificially flavored textured soy flour. A vegetarian since age 14, van Herik is initially troubled by the ingredient's meatlessness. "For some reason that makes them more disgusting to me," he says. "Why not just eat dehydrated bacon? They're gross."

Van Herik says he didn't have much time to experiment with recipes because he's been recording with his band, Disappears, for ten hours a day for the last week; but the recipe came together pretty organically. "I remembered being at a party years ago, and everyone was talking about the bacon-wrapped figs," he says. "I actually ate one that day, because I was challenged, and I said sure. It was delicious."

He tracked down some black-fig vinegar and made a "shrub," a sort of concentrated syrup, by soaking the bacon bits in it and then straining them out. He used "just a touch" of the infusion in his cocktail, the Dr. Baconstein—"because it's nearly toxic, I think." Other elements included overproof white rum, ruby port, and a little egg white.

"It ends up a little lighter than you'd expect," van Herik says. "The port's got a lot of plummy, date, fruit flavors. It goes well with the fig." Though the Saint Valentine, the cocktail that inspired his creation, is usually served up, van Herik says he decided to pour the Dr. Baconstein over crushed ice so that it would be more appropriate for those summer days when, you know, "you feel like drinking a bacon-bit-based drink in the hot weather."

Dr. Baconstein - PETER HOLDERNESS
  • Dr. Baconstein
  • Peter Holderness

Dr. Baconstein

1.5 oz Wray & Nephew overproof white rum
1.5 oz Niepoort ruby port
.5 oz egg white
.5 oz black-fig vinegar/bacon-bit shrub*
Crushed Ice

Pour rum over crushed ice. Dry shake egg white, shrub, and port. Add ice, shake again. Strain into glass over the rum. Drizzle black-fig vinegar on top. *To make the shrub, soak a half teaspoon of McCormick Bac'n Pieces in a half ounce of Cuisine Perel Black Fig Vinegar.

Who's next:

Van Herik has challenged Aaron Dexter of the Owl to create a cocktail with asafetida­—"aka devil's dung," van Herik says. Used in Indian cuisine, the spice is known for its foul odor.

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