Bacon and gin?

We live in a world of infinitely flexible standards. Just about anything is OK with just about everybody these days as long as it makes money and doesn’t result in someone’s Yorkshire terrier being crushed by a runaway Ferris wheel.

(Hey, it could happen – and it’s just not right.)

During the past two decades everything from acceptable air pollution levels to minimum health care standards have been “relaxed” to make it a little easier for all of us to get along.

Somehow “I’m OK, you’re OK” has grown to encompass petroleum price gouging, political pork barreling and the occasional armed robbery.

Last week, however, a popular national bacon producer stepped over my personal line of righteous indignation and roused my ire.

When you hear what these pork-fancying Philistines proposed, I’m sure you’ll share my wrath.

Trouble started last week when the folks at Farmer John pork products sent me “Everything’s Better Wrapped in Bacon – 103 Sizzlin’ Recipes from Bacon Lovers Just Like You,” a flavorful compendium of unique bacon recipes from across the nation.

They were justifiably proud of such concoctions as “Grandma’s Goop Gop” and “Bacon Banana Bites,” but they should have stopped when they were ahead.

Instead they trampled tradition and tossed in a recipe for (shudder!) bacon martinis.

Provided by Mary Keir of San Francisco, the recipe calls for a cup o’ gin, a tablespoon of vermouth and four large pimento olives garnished with strips of bacon.

Farmer John – and for that matter, Mary Keir – how could you?

Bacon martinis?!

BACON martinis?!

Perhaps I should rephrase that:

BACON MARTINIS?!

Here is a unique cocktail native to California (most likely invented in Martinez or San Francisco) that has carried generations of drinkers into benign befuddlement for more than a century. It’s made with gin and a teensy, tiny bit of dry vermouth and is frequently garnished with an olive.

No onions – that’s not a martini, that’s a Gibson.

No pickled baby octopus – they’re for a relatively new outrage known as a saketini which is made with sake.

No vodka – that’s an aberration favored by fans of James Bond and natives of Zheleznodorozhny who have difficulty pronouncing complex English nouns like “gin.”

And, most emphatically, NO PORK!

That means no bacon, no ham hocks, no head cheese and no pickled pigs feet in your martini glass. Not ever.

There’s nothing wrong with nibbling on a bite-sized Vienna sausage or a smoked pork chop while you’re sipping a delightful blend of gin and vermouth. Once you start actually garnishing your martini with bacon strips, though, you’re trampling on a time-honored California tradition and that’s just not right.

Have faith. Stand firm and believe. And if you absolutely must mix pork with alcohol, try floating a hot link in a snifter of Courvoisier.

You’ll be glad you did…

Originally published June 24, 2001

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