Perhaps it's the side of bacon that comes with a classic hangover breakfast, accompanied by a hair-of-the-dog Bloody Mary or mimosa. Or it might be when a strip of the delicious, salty treat is deposited straight into said Bloody Mary, adding a smoky protein boost to the tomato juice, Tabasco and pickled asparagus. It just seems like bacon and alcohol are natural allies.
I recently saw a Facebook post from Litz's Bar & Grill in Spokane indicating that the folks at this Logan neighborhood watering hole felt the same — an offer of free bacon at Happy Hour on Monday nights.
Further investigation obviously was necessary.
Was this a trick to get me to order a burger? Would I find a buffet, where I could fill a plate with this culinary delight? Was this just a way for the bar to counteract the bad public relations bacon has endured at the hands of the World Health Organization, and its proclamation that processed meats can cause cancer?
Arriving right at the advertised start of the free-bacon window (5 to 7 pm), there is no bacon to be found. Nine customers dot different corners of the place. One woman plays pinball while a tall, older man in a cowboy hat chats her up. The Cowboy is relentlessly charming, and she laughs easily at his chatter.
A few guys sit at the bar playing pull-tabs and watching the pregame hype for Monday Night Football. Two others sit at a tall table and peruse the night's Happy Hour specials.
One, mulling the $2 PBR tall boy, says, "We have the best intelligence in the world, and some wacko could come in here right now!"
His friend, considering 50-cent hot wings, replies simply, "He ain't going to get far."
I might not be safe from bacon's health effects here, but at least this table seems ready for a shootout.
I order a $3.25 Happy Hour whiskey. Old Grand-Dad, if memory serves.
A head pops out of a doorway next to the bar and hollers, "Bacon's on the way, guys!"
No one seems to pay much notice to the announcement, but the distinct scent of the treat du jour starts to fill the room. The barkeep who updated us on the swine swings by to see if I want some wings with my Happy Hour bourbon. The Sriracha flavor is particularly good tonight, he says, but I decline.
"I'm interested in the bacon," I say. "Is this free bacon a reaction to the whole cancer thing that just came out?"
A blank stare, followed by "I haven't even heard of that."
He disappears into the kitchen just as the Cowboy wanders over from the pinball machine, glances at the TV and starts speaking, quickly and loudly, to no one in particular.
"Cincinnati playing tonight? They're undefeated, aren't they? I'm from Texas. College football. It's like the Baylor Bears. They were terrible, and the last two years, they're kicking everybody's ass! My first wife is from Waco. She got knocked up by another guy. Then she went missing."
As the Cowboy continues his story of love gone wrong — WAY wrong — the barkeep returns from the kitchen with several small throwaway paper bowls, each with two half-slices of bacon inside. His arrival quiets the Cowboy. The barkeep drops my bowl of bacon off first, then in front of the other customers, then strategically through unpopulated parts of the bar where any new drinkers will see them when they arrive.
The quality of the bacon? Not great, but like listening to the Cowboy's tale, a surprisingly quality companion to bad whiskey. ♦