Fat Washing Cocktails

fat washing cocktails

Bacon grease is a favorite for fat washing cocktails

Move over Skinnygirl®cocktails… and make way for a trend seemingly at the opposite end of the spectrum. Fat washing cocktails is bursting on to the scene.

The fat washing process involves adding a fat (bacon grease seems to be a favorite) to a spirit, letting it sit at room temperature for a few hours, then freeze. The fat solidifies at the top and can be skimmed off with the remaining liquid strained through cheesecloth or a coffee filter. The spirit retains the flavor of the fat you’ve used. Bacon-infused Bourbon has plenty of bar patrons licking their chops.

Other Fats to Infuse in Cocktails

According to Drinks.SeriousEats.com’sThe Science of Fat-Washing Cocktails,” the bacon-infused cocktail is attributed to Don Lee at Please Don’t Tell, located in the East Village in New York. However, Lee attributes his knowledge of fat washing cocktails to another New York bartender, Eben Freeman, who created brown butter-washed rum.

Other fats that have been used in fat washing cocktails include bone marrow, duck fat, sesame oil, butter, heavy cream, peanut butter, and even a grilled cheese sandwich. As for the latter, it’s the brain child of Shawn Soole (bartender at Clive’s in Victoria, British Columbia), who developed a grilled cheese rum, then adds muddled tomato and basil to create The Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup Martini. (The New York Times T Magazine.)

If that doesn’t seem odd enough, consider venison-washed rye as the primary ingredient in the Deer in Headlights cocktail that’s combined with Averna and bitters. Jeff Faile, bar manager at Washington D.C.’s Fiola, is quoted in Wine Enthusiast’s Bartender, There’s a Duck in My Drink”: “The fat adds a whole new dimension.” About the Deer in Headlights, he said, “It’s like a Manhattan, but because of the wash, the flavors actually coat the mouth and sustain the finish.”

Making a Fat-Washed Cocktail

Some compounds are fat-soluble and others are water-soluble. Alcohol makes it interesting by dissolving both. Although freezing makes it easier to strip out the solidified fat, it’s impossible to strain out every bit of it. Not to worry, there’s probably not enough left to affect the calorie count, but fat washing definitely alters the mouth feel of the drink.

If you’re interested in experimenting with fat washing, noted bartender Jamie Boudreau posted a four-minute video “How to Fat Wash a Spirit” that covers the basics and demonstrates how easy it is to create your own fat-washed cocktail.