The Third Rail: A Tale of Two Bacons


Bacon has alternately been praised and vilified. Viewed as divine or anti-religious, delectable or disgusting, high brow or low class. I am talking, of course, about Francis Bacon. But the same could be said of bacon the meat. (See what I did there?) Right now both are at their cultural peak: one of them is the subject of a new book

and the other has a show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I’ll let you guess which is which.

Anyway, one key way Bacon the Painter and Bacon the Pork have long deserved to be connected is through drinks. Bacon the meat is the LOLcats of Internet food meme, so I’m definitely not the first to find a way to connect its salty, greasy charms with the even more debauched practice of mixology. The fine folks at faux-speakeasy PDT have created the best-known bacon bourbon cocktail, The Benton’s Old-Fashioned.

In case you’re not up for watching the video, the full recipe is also included here. But be warned: it involves a process called “fat washing.”

Francis Bacon likely never had the chance to savor bacon bourbon, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t savor (or at least swallow) plenty of other liquors. Among his many haunts, he was a founding member of Soho members’ club The Colony Room. In exchange for bringing in his rich friends when it first opened, he received free drinks, perhaps including the signature Colony Room Cocktail: 1 dash Ricard Pastis, 2 oz gin, 2 dashes Noilly Prat French Vermouth, 1 dash Angostura bitters. Coat the inside of a cocktail glass with the pastis, pouring out what’s left. Then stir the remaining ingredients with ice in a shaker and strain into the glass.

Then again, judging from many reports, Bacon was more a champagne man (if there is such a thing), who favored the classic Irish saying: “Champagne for your real friends and real pain for your sham friends.” Which just goes to show that even high art likes lowbrow toasts.