Just how good an idea is fried chicken-infused vodka?

Photos: Kevin Pang

Welcome to Thanks, Commenters!, in which we mine, borrow, and steal ideas put forth by The Takeout’s commentariat.

I’ve never had the pleasure of tasting a cocktail that’s been fat-washed—a drink infused with, say, butter or bacon fat—which was why I was so interested in learning about the practice during Butter Week. My takeaway is it’s less about the slick texture imparted in the cocktail, more so about flavor.

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Then came a suggestion in the comment section from user Spice Spice Gravy, who suggested—holy smokes—making a vodka infused with fried chicken:

I totally made this, and I’m writing about it.

Truth be told, I took shortcuts. I did not, as Monsieur Gravy suggested, use Popeye’s. I did not store in freezer for 48 hours, nor did I strain twice and let chill in the freezer. I did use an 8-piece bucket of KFC Original Recipe fried chicken and let steep in a gallon of vodka for 24 hours. (My guess is if a 72-hour infusion gets you a 100-point fried chicken vodka, an overnight infusion will get you to an 85.)

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Photos: Kevin Pang

After 24 hours, the vodka took on the color of a rich chicken broth. Smell-wise, it wasn’t as appealing. It reeked in a way a liquid soaked with a fatty meat would smell. The taste, however, wasn’t nearly as bad. The burn of vodka dominated, but several second later, the taste of salt, meat, and fry batter appeared on the palate. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t delicious either. The two flavors don’t quite mesh.

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Photos: Kevin Pang

The most obvious application of fried chicken-infused vodka is a Bloody Mary. I mixed myself a iced glass with 2-to-1 Bloody Mary mix-to-fried chicken vodka, and a squeeze of lemon. It tasted like... a Bloody Mary. The sharp tomato and vodka flavors overwhelmed whatever fried chicken savor that was present. I do think there’s a slight bit more umami with this infused vodka, but every person who sampled this in my office couldn’t discern any difference from a standard Bloody Mary. I’m not sure it’s worth the trouble—nor the smell—to make this vodka again, but at least I got to denude a bucket’s worth of KFC fried chicken of its floppy-crispy skin. That was delicious.

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Photo: Kevin Pang

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About the author

Kevin Pang

Kevin Pang was the founder and editor-in-chief of The Takeout, and director of the documentary For Grace on Netflix.