Bacon, Not Stirred
weenicello, and other meat cocktails
by Rachel Khong
illustration by Jen
and Cy de Groat
WHEN THE TERM “MARTINI LUNCH” was
coined, it referred — in
all likelihood — to the vegetarian martini: a libation
to be consumed alongside one’s steak, not incorporated
into it. Even Jägermeister — the traditional hunters’ drink
of choice — is suitable for herbivores: Contrary to popular
lore, none of its 56 ingredients is elk blood.
In recent years,
however, an increasing number of foolhardy souls have sought
to blur the line between meat and drink. The Seattle-based
Jones Soda Co. sells a “Turkey and
Gravy” flavored soda, as well as a holiday season ham
variety, allegedly as kosher as its latke-flavored beverage.
Eschewing the ever-popular pimiento, Applebee’s, the
popular casual dining restaurant chain, serves its Mucho Mary
cocktail (essentially a Bloody Mary) with Slim-Jim stuffed
olives. In San Francisco, salmon-stuffed olives and jerky-stuffed
olives accompany martinis at Blondie’s Bar and No Grill.
The Beefytini (on offer at the Circle Bar in New Orleans) is
a combination of Beefeater gin, vermouth, and jerky juice (a
brine and jerky mixture), a meaty twist on the dirty martini.
When it found itself with an excess of pig skin, the Brooklyn
restaurant Porchetta put the abundance to good use in its “pork
margarita” — rimmed with pork cracklings in lieu
In August 2006, blogger Andrew Fenton shocked
online epicurean circles when he unveiled the “weeniecello” — a
package of Hebrew Nationals soaked for five weeks in 100-proof
vodka — at the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts and
Letters, an online forum. Along with vermouth and a splash
of sauerkraut brine, weeniecello served as the basis of the
weenie-tini, a drink that possesses, as Fenton put it, “a
richness and subtle beefiness not to be found in traditional
vegetarian cocktails.” Weeniecello also features prominently
in Fenton’s “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” cocktail,
garnished with boiled peanuts, its rim dusted with dry mustard.
Just as not all meats are created equal,
some fare better than others when combined with alcohol. “The
bad news,” announced
Fenton, following some early experimentation, “is that
a hot dog that has been soaking for weeks in alcohol tastes
like a lab specimen. You remember that kid in high school biology
who, for $10, took a bite of his fetal pig? He might like these.”
and time again, swine has proved to be the most swill-worthy
meat. When the New York–based blogger-cocktailian Josh
Karpf steeped four different meats in Absolut — sweet
dried pork, sautéed ground pork, Italian dinner sausage,
and sautéed Spam — he found jerkies to be “less
than optimum,” while sausage softened the martini’s
proper crispness. Concerning his Spam-laden drink, Karpf determined, “Spam
doth not a martini make.” The ground pork martini, however,
was a force to be reckoned with. “Not a cocktail for
the pork martini dilettante,” it is a potent concoction
that “packs a pork wallop.”
At its zenith, a meat cocktail almost invariably incorporates
bacon. Jocelyn McAuley, who documents her culinary travails
at the Brownie Points Blog, is one of many at-home bacon/vodka
alchemists. She created her bacon-infused vodka by leaving
fried strips of bacon and vodka to sit in a cupboard for three
weeks before freezing, straining, and decanting it. She found
her pale yellow vodka ideal for a martini paired with a bleu
cheese–stuffed olive. It was also excellent when “poured
into a spray bottle and used to spritz just a touch of smoky
bacon flavor to salads, toasts, or stews.” Where many
cocktails come too close to cloying, those prepared with bacon
vodka maintain a savory complexity. Bacon vodka combined with
date syrup in “a sweet bacon cordial” achieves
an ideal marriage of flavors — the liquid version of
the bacon-wrapped date.
There exists, perhaps, no greater meat
cocktail success story than that of the Double Down Saloon.
Home to such ingenuities as “ass juice” — the
dregs of various liquor bottles combined and sold as shots — the
bar boasts, on its menu, a bacon martini and bacon bloody that
are popular drink choices at their Las Vegas and New York locations.
The bacon martini was invented by P. Moss,
the owner of Double Down, inspired by bacon-loving employees
and a personal desire to develop cocktails that made use of
honest, actual ingredients. “I
always found it rather pathetic that popular drinks such as
the apple martini were made from chemicals and not real apples,” says
The bacon martini, in contrast, is straightforwardly
executed: Strips of crisp bacon from Gatton Farms, Kentucky,
are slid “carefully” into
a bottle of vodka, and left to sit for 24 hours, imbuing the
vodka with ideal meatiness. The vodka is strained, then incorporated
into a traditional martini as usual.
As for opposition, there
was none, according to Moss. “The
only person who opposed the bacon idea was Porky Pig,” said
Moss. “Everybody else, both staff and customers, encouraged
the hell out of it.” Moss reports that only one individual
has ever become sick from the drink. The customer, setting
his sights on the bacon at the bottom of the bottle — as
one might the worm in mescal — imbibed six bacon martinis
in his quest.
“He was fine with the martinis, but
that vodka-soaked bacon put him on the floor,” explained
All this meaty drinking may be an American
novelty, but centuries-old eastern “cocktails” have long joined
booze and meat for medicinal purposes. In Vietnam, scorpion
wine — made
by immersing scorpions in rice wine — is said to be a
tonic for weak joints and tendons that also alleviates general
fatigue. Many Thai imbibe “snake wine” as a cure-all
for hair loss, farsightedness, and impotence. The wine is prepared
by letting a (preferably venomous) snake soak in a jar of rice
wine for months, ample time for the ethanol to deactivate the
poison in protein-based snake venom.
The western world’s
seemingly newfound interest in marrying meat with alcohol is
unsurprising, however, when you consider one possible etymological
origin of the “cocktail” itself.
In fact, the original English cocktail may have been protein-based. “Cock
ale” was a poultry-infused, 16th-century ale, made by
combining a large, elderly rooster with sack (a dry sherry),
along with raisins, cloves, mace, and other spices.
how to make it:
Take ten gallons of ale and a large cock,
the older the better. Parboil the cock, flay him, and stamp
him in a stone mortar until his bones are broken (you must
gut him when you flay him). Then, put the cock into two quarts
of sack, and add five pounds of raisins of the sun, stoned,
some blades of mace, and a few cloves. Put all these into
a canvas bag, and a little before you find the ale has been
working, put the bag and ale together in a vessel.
In a week or nine days bottle it up, fill
the bottle just above the neck and give it the same time to
ripen as other ale.
Rachel Khong lives
in San Francisco but is moving to Gainesville, Florida.
She makes a mean — albeit meatless — Bloody
This article originally appeared in
Meatpaper Issue Four.