Noticed bacon-infused bourbon on the cocktail menu at trendy bars? Then you already have an inkling of just how knee-wobblingly terrific bourbon can be when infused with the smokiness of bacon. What you may not be aware of is just how incredibly simple it is to make at home. All you need are coffee filters, a funnel, bacon, and booze.–Angie Zoobkoff

What Can I Make With Bacon-Infused Bourbon?

Bacon-infused bourbon is an ingenious way to make America’s most beloved spirit even more amiable, says Steven Raichlen, the creator of this recipe. The subtle smokiness can be indulgently intense when sipped straight, although perhaps its finest moment is when its smokiness  is employed in cocktails, such as Manhattans and Old Fashioneds, bacon strip garnish optional. Or use the bourbon in any recipe to which you’d add a splash of straight-up bourbon.

Two glasses of bacon bourbon with strips of cooked bacon in each glass and a bottle of bourbon in the background.

Bacon Infused Bourbon

5 / 5 votes
Bacon-infused bourbon tastes exactly like what you’d expect. Bacon that’s slowly cooked to smoky loveliness and then dropped in your favorite bourbon. Sip it neat or use it to doctor up your favorite drinks.
David Leite
Servings26 (1-oz) servings
Calories70 kcal
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time12 hours


  • Funnel; several paper coffee filters


  • 8 ounces smoky bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch (6 mm) slivers
  • One (26-ounce) bottle of your favorite bourbon or whiskey


  • Place the bacon in a cold skillet and place it over medium-high heat on the stove or on a grill set up for direct grilling and preheated to medium-high (400°F or 204°C). Cook the bacon, stirring often, until the bacon has browned and quite a lot of bacon fat has been rendered, 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Remove the skillet from the heat and let the bacon cool slightly. Pour the fat through a fine-mesh strainer into a large metal bowl. Save the bacon for garnishing, noshing, or another use—oh, the options!
  • Pour your bourbon into the warm bacon fat and whisk to mix, reserving the bottle and cap. Let the bourbon mixture rest at room temperature for 2 hours and then cover and place the bowl of bourbon and bacon fat in the freezer overnight.
  • Remove the bourbon from the freezer. The bacon fat will have risen and congealed on the surface. Skim it off and reserve it for cooking or basting.
  • Line a funnel with a paper coffee filter. Place the funnel in the neck of the bourbon bottle and strain the bourbon back into the bottle. If the paper filter becomes clogged, swap it out for a new paper filter.

    ☞ TESTER TIP: Be patient. The infused bourbon will drip slooooooowly. It’s worth the wait.

  • Recap the bottle before storing. Your bacon-infused bourbon will, in theory, keep at room temperature for up to several weeks—not that it stands a chance of sticking around that long, natch. For a more aromatic experience, swirl the bourbon in a snifter or a wide glass before sipping.
Project Smoke Cookbook

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 70 kcalCarbohydrates: 0.01 gProtein: 0.1 gFat: 0.4 gSaturated Fat: 0.1 gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.2 gTrans Fat: 0.002 gCholesterol: 1 mgSodium: 8 mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Photo © 2016 Matthew Benson. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This bacon infused bourbon was delightful! I used a smoky maple bacon and Jim Beam Black Bourbon.

The process was simple and the bacon fat lifted off cleanly after spending the night in the freezer. The bacon added a nice smoky sweetness to the bourbon on its own, but the final product was a real standout in a new fangled “old fashioned” cocktail made with 2 ounces bacon bourbon mixed with 2 teaspoons brown sugar simple syrup (1 part demerara or raw sugar and 1 part water) and 3 to 4 dashes Angostura bitters and a twist of lemon peel (do not include the pithy white part or flesh of the lemon as you want to release the oils and drop it in the cocktail). Stir well. Add plenty of ice and a splash of soda water. Garnish with a bacon strip, of course! Serves one.

At first glance, I thought bacon infused bourbon was probably not a good idea. Yet the more I thought about it, the more sensible it seemed. Bourbon and bacon are BOTH on my list of desert island items, along with my Hozier album and my favorite Wayfarers, so the adventure began.

I used the remainder of a bottle of Maker’s Mark. I carried along as per the instructions and everything seemed to go just as planned. After the allotted time and subsequent filtering, I had a reasonably full bottle of what should be a nice smoky, bacon-infused bourbon. I poured a shot and tossed it back. Unfortunately, no wonderful, smokey, bacony sip of bourbon deliciousness. After my initial disappointment, I wondered, wouldn’t much of the sensation involved with this experiment involve my sense of smell? I quickly grabbed a small snifter and added a few ounces of the bourbon. I swirled it in the glass, brought it slowly to my lips and, VOILA! Much to my delight, that perfect mixture of bacon, smoke, and bourbon that I had unknowingly searched for my entire adult life was now mine. VICTORY!

Bacon. Bourbon. Boom. There really isn’t a whole lot more to say except that this bacon infused bourbon is such a cool and surprisingly versatile addition to the pantry as well as the bar. I’ve infused a fair number of liquors in my day (and, let’s be honest, plenty of moonshine) but never with bacon, which seems like an absolute travesty. Thankfully, I overcame my newfound handicap this week. The stuff is definitely different but in a good way.

Anything that’s amped up with bacon—think some tree and stone fruit flavors, spices, etc—could use a splash of this stuff to make a nice twist on a range of classic drinks. I have some pear and cinnamon brown sugar simple syrup that this went REALLY well with on the rocks. I really like using bourbon and brandy in and as marinades and deglazing agents, too, so I’d imagine this would be awesome in that respect, too. The recipe also suggested using some bacon bourbon in BBQ sauce, so that’s my next experiment!

This bacon infused bourbon is a fun home-mixology experiment and an easy infusion you can make relatively quickly. Having sampled a bacon-infused bourbon at a swanky bar, I was happy to discover it was something I could do with nothing more fancy than a cast iron skillet and my trusty Melitta coffee filters.

I made a small batch, using about 12 ounces Bulleit Kentucky Straight Bourbon and just under 4 ounces smokey bacon from my local butcher, Thistle Meats. The blend of bourbon and strained bacon fat sat overnight in the freezer and came off in a solid disk. The flavored bourbon tends to clog the paper filters, so I swapped the filters twice, replacing with fresh filter paper and also moving to a smaller filter with more holes. The resulting liquid was translucent without any particles or obvious fat. That did mean that the paper absorbed a bit of the bourbon, but the results were perfect. Be patient—it will drip slowly.

We tried the bourbon straight as well as with a piece of ice and a splash of water, and it was distinctively smokey with a bacon note. I feel it really shined best in a mixed drink where the complexity results in something greater than the sum of the parts. I made a Manhattan. This was a fun experiment, sort of alcohol enfleurage, if you consider bacon a special perfume! This extraction is all about essential yumminess. This is an easily scalable recipe based on what ingredient you have more or less of.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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  1. I just put a batch in the freezer to congeal. I will filter it tomorrow. Would the shelf life be increased if kept in the freezer?

    1. We haven’t tried freezing it, Ed, but in theory, yes I think it would prolong the life.

  2. Can the bottle with bacon fat infused sit on the bar cart for some time without spoiling?

    1. Gregg, as long as you have strained out the fat after the initial infusion, the bourbon should keep at room temperature for several weeks without spoiling.