Many bartenders today are using a technique known as fat washing, which you may have noticed popping up on drink menus in cocktails infused with savory notes such as bacon. If you’re a fan of the richness of these drinks, we’ll let you in on a little secret- it’s something you can do at home (like on Sundays when we’re closed and you can’t come in to get your fix.)
So, what is fat washing and how can the home bartender pull it off with ease?
First, it is important to note that all fats can be used in the processes. Alcohol can dissolve both water-soluble and fat-soluble flavor compounds. Fat washing is really no different than infusing pineapples into your favorite rum, the only difference is in the technique. If you were to infuse pineapples into rum you would let the chopped up pineapples soak in the rum for a long period of time, usually a month or so, before fine-straining off the contents. The end result leaves you with a sweet pineapple-flavored rum that’s great in tropical cocktails.
Fat washing is a little more complicated, but fear not.
Step one: Choose your fat. The finished product will have the flavor of the fat you chose, so be sure you have a plan for the alcohol once the fat washing process is complete. You may want to bacon fat wash bourbon for a Manhattan, browned butter into rum, olive oil into vodka, or duck fat into… everything. The possibilities are endless. You need to start with room-temperature fat. This means that if you are using a fat such as bacon fat, you’ll need to get it to a liquid consistency without getting it so hot that it begins to evaporate the alcohol when added. Fats like olive oil and sesame oil are ready to go right out of the bottle.
Step two: Get a container with a tight fitting lid. Pour the alcohol into the container, and be sure to save the bottle so you can add the finished product back in. Grab your fat of choice, and add it to the alcohol. Give it a quick stir, cover, and let stand for 2 hours at room temperature.
Step three: Place your container in the refrigerator, and let it sit there for at least 24 hours.
Step four: Remove the container and fine-mesh-strain the mixture into another vessel. At this point you can add it back to the bottle using a funnel and voila!
The process is simple and you can get creative. Try infusing herbs like sage, rosemary and thyme into olive oil. Heat the oil over medium-high heat, add the herbs and cook until very aromatic. Let it cool and strain off. Now you have a flavored fat that you can wash into your alcohol!
Here is a drink we do at the restaurant. Give it a go. If you don’t feel like dehydrating orange wheels then smoking them, we don’t blame you. A fresh orange wheel will do fine.
Kentucky Breakfast Mule
1.5 oz bacon whiskey
.5 oz lime juice
Build in a mule glass over ice, then top with Blenheim’s Spicy Ginger Ale. Garnish with smoked orange peel and enjoy.