Thursday, October 6, 2016

Bacon and Cocktail Pairings

By Liza B. Zimmerman

Luscious ribbons of well-prepared bacon are delicious at any time of the day. They are as great at breakfast as dinner and in the mid-afternoon. I had the great pleasure of attending the second  edition of The Great Big  Bacon Picnic in Williamsburg a few days ago.

Legions of top New York chefs were on duty turning out some of the best bacon-based foods I have had in a long time. They included everything from bacon-dusted burgers to bacon-inspired carnitas. The pairings were a wide range of Brooklyn-distilled spirits; mostly on the brown side of category.

Local distillers in residence included Doc Herson's and the New York Distilling Company. Their products ranged from Absinthe to rye and gin. The gentleman behind all  the distilling magic, Dave Herman, the partner and director of beverages for the festival, enlightened me about how some of the best drinks were pairing with the bacon-luscious food offerings.

The Key to Perfect Piggy Pairings
"The kind of well made bacon from high-quality pork that we use has a natural sweetness along with the unctuous and salty flavors so I like to balance it with sour and bitter drinks. The Paloma is an excellent cocktail ...[and]  I also love a Gin Fizz thanks to citrus acidity, juniper's natural affinity for pork and the light carbonation which helps scrub the fat from your palate. I like to avoid sweeter cocktails here."

Some of my favorite pairings were Rye based, because of its depth and intensity and also mescal infused. That smokiness is divine with many types of bacon. A hint of citrus in the glass also refreshes your palate as you sip and refresh you palate between bites of bacon.

"Whiskey neat can do great things with rich and salty pork, but I avoid Bourbon personally because of the sweetness. I love rye with bacon. But I think gins go well thanks to the juniper and pork connection. And the natural astringency in good mescal might be my favorite pairing," added Hernan.
"I like to provide counterpoint with the cocktails. Let the smoke shine from the bacon then let the cocktail come in and refresh your palate, getting you ready for the next bite," he shared.

"Obviously I edge towards bitter and sour flavors  from the drinks. You can't hope to out-bacon bacon so for me keeping the sweetness in the drink to a minimum and using bitterness and acidity to provide contrast is the way to go," he said. As a resut, I so enjoyed the fantastic drink synergies on a beautiful sunny day in Brooklyn.

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Liza B. Zimmerman has been writing and consulting about wine and food for two decades. She is principal of the San Francisco-based Liza the Wine Chick wine writing, education and consulting firm. She has worked on staff and freelance at national magazines such as Wine Enthusiast, The Magazine of La Cucina Italiana, Wine Spectator, Where SF and the Examiner. She currently contributes to Cheers, Wine Business Monthly and the Examiner, among others.

Zimmerman focuses on demystifying wine and transforming it into a tool for business and networking for companies all over the country. Past clients include Genentech, Roche and IBM.

She has visited all the world’s major wine regions and is one of select few in the U.S. to hold the Diploma of Wine & Spirits (D.W.S.), the three-year precursor to the Master of Wine.

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