Every week, Mike Augustyniak picks a new cocktail recipe from a local mixologist. This week he’s taking a look at the Strange Relationship from the St. Paul Grill.

Strange Relationship

  • 2 bacon-fat-infused Pike Street St. Paul Grill Barrel Select Minnesota bourbon (instructions below)
  • 1 Cinnamon Simple Syrup (recipe below)
  • 3 apple cider


Mix bourbon, apple cider and simple syrup together in cocktail shaker with ice.
Pour into cocktail glass and garnish with cinnamon stick and Honeycrisp apple slice.

To make the simple syrup:
Combine one cup of water with one cup of granulated sugar, and one stick of cinnamon.  Heat, stirring frequently, until sugar is completely dissolved.

  • To make the bacon-infused bourbon:
    Combine once cup of bacon grease with 750 ml of bourbon in a food-safe container
  • Cover tightly and refrigerate
  • After three days, remove lid and scoop the hardened bacon fat off of the top of the bourbon and discard it
  • Strain the bourbon through a coffee filter, cheese cloth, or tea strainer


Taste Test
If you could drink apple pie it might taste like the Strange Relationship.  This cocktail was easy drinking, and is pretty sweet, given the sugar in the cider and the simple syrup.  The bacon-infused bourbon lends a smoky note at the finish, and has a slightly thicker and silkier feel than a normal bourbon that hasn’t been “fat washed.”

The Double Shot
We’ve talked about infusing flavors into a spirit many times before on Mike’s Mix, and it’s always the same process; allow the flavoring agent and the spirit to sit together long enough and the alcohol acts as a solvent to release the flavor molecules.

This week’s recipe also involves a flavor infusion, but of a different type.

“Fat washing” is the preferred method for infusing more savory flavors into a spirit. And, yes, in most cases, those flavors come from goopy fats.

If you think that sounds gross, you’re not alone. No one wants a mouthful of bacon fat with their swig of bourbon.

So, the key to a palatable fat wash is to remove as much of the grease as possible before serving it.

The process of fat washing begins by pouring liquefied fat into a spirit and letting the mixture sit for a period, during which time the fat will impart its flavor.

When it comes time to remove the fat, simply chilling the mixture in a refrigerator will cause the fat to separate from the alcohol, solidify, and rise to the top of the container.

This will allow you to remove the majority of the fat easily by scraping it away with a spoon.

Smaller pieces of leftover fat can be removed by pouring the remaining spirit through a coffee filter (or something similar); this will result in a clarified liquid that still contains the taste of the fat, which in the case of Strange Relationship is bacon.

Be sure to use a strongly flavored bacon, such as the hickory smoked variety.

If you’d like to use the Pike Street Bourbon that is used in the Strange Relationship you can purchase it at local liquor stores, or at the St. Paul Grill as part of a gift set that also contains a bottle of the St. Paul Grill Barrel Select Minnesota bourbon. The cost is $75.

This article from seriouseats.com is an excellent resource on fat washing, from what tastes the best, to what happens to the drink on a molecular level when fat is infused.

If you’re looking to expand your liquor knowledge this fall, the St. Paul Grill has a Scotch club with 850 members and a wide selection of Scotches to try.

Each sample purchased gets you closer to a complimentary 1-oz pour of The Macallan, a 55-year old Scotch valued at $750 a pour.

The Scotch Club also has a special event coming up. On Thursday, Oct. 16 at 6 p.m. the Scotch Club will feature tastings of five rare whiskeys and Scotches, heavy appetizers and two guests from Laphroaig.  Tickets are $100, including tax and gratuity, and reservations are required.

Additional information can be found on the St. Paul Grill website.