So we started with a stiff pour of Scotch whisky. To dress it up for the occasion — it is a celebration, after all — we spiked it with ice cider, apple brandy and a splash of lemon juice. The result is a bold, lightly sweet indulgence that is just right to set a festive mood.
To go with it, we slowly candied some bacon. This is bacon so good it will haunt you. The process is slow, but effortless. The bacon also can be made ahead of time and kept at room temperature for three days (you are essentially making bacon jerky, so it won't spoil). Just be sure to get thick-cut bacon. You want meaty and bold for this.
WINTER ORCHARD SCOTCH
Can't find ice cider? Substitute ice wine.
Start to finish: 5 minutes
1 1/2 ounces Scotch whisky
1 ounce ice cider
1/2 ounce apple brandy
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in a double old fashioned glass. Stir, then add an ice cube, if desired.
SLOW CANDIED BACON
Start to finish: 2 hours 15 minutes (15 minutes active)
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon ground mace
20 ounces thick-cut bacon
Heat the oven to 250 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, red pepper flakes and mace. Arrange the bacon in a single layer in the prepared baking sheet. The bacon can touch, but should not overlap. Spread the brown sugar mixture evenly over the bacon, covering all the slices. Bake for 2 hours.
Allow the bacon to rest for 10 minutes in the pan before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling. Store in an airtight container between sheets of kitchen parchment or waxed paper.
Nutrition information per serving: 340 calories; 200 calories from fat (59 per cent of total calories); 23 g fat (8 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 35 mg cholesterol; 28 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 27 g sugar; 7 g protein; 380 mg sodium.