Fat-washing sounds like what we feel like we’re doing when we take a shower after overeating during the course of the holidays. In fact, it’s actually an ingenious infusion technique. Oil, butter, nuts, meat, or another kind of fat is placed into a spirit to rest for a short while at room temperature. Then the mixture is put into a freezer, where the fat naturally separates from the spirit over time. Though the fat is skimmed off, its flavor remains. Here are 7 fabulous fat-washed cocktails that showcase this taste-enhancing technique.
Coconut Negroni, Boleo, Chicago, Illinois
Inspired by Chilean cocktail culture, bar star Jess Lambert conceived the coconut Negroni. Starring a coconut fat-washed Kappa pisco, it’s blended with Campari, sweet vermouth, and an orange oil to brighten it up. The results are faintly tropical, like a hazy memory of an afternoon spent on a beach in Viña del Mar. Make a reservation at Boleo.
It’s Foie-nominal, BLT Steak, Washington, D.C.
Decadence: now in liquid form. Woodford Reserve bourbon is fat-washed with foie gras to add an unctuous depth and then mixed with fig syrup and lemon juice. As if that wasn’t enough, it comes garnished with a port-soaked fig. Make a reservation at BLT Steak.
Chorizo Cocktail, Estrellón, Madison, Wisconsin
Excuse me, is that a chorizo sausage in your cocktail or are you just happy to see me? Featuring chorizo-washed bourbon, Spanish vermouth, maple syrup, orange and lemon juices, and bitters, the drink possesses a slight spiciness that finds a counterbalance in its sweet and bitter tones. Make a reservation at Estrellón.
Duck Hunt, The Fainting Goat, Washington, D.C.
Borrowing its name from what may the greatest Nintendo game of all time, it’s sure to appeal to quack addicts. Beverage director Ian Fletcher fat-washes bourbon with duck fat, and then he mixes it with a nutty oloroso sherry. Concentrate and you’ll uncover hints of cardamom, rosemary, and apple in the canary-colored cocktail. Make a reservation at the Fainting Goat.
Blood & Smoke, Manhattan Beach Post, Los Angeles, California
This is not your average Bloody Mary. That’s because it features bacon-washed Koval white rye whiskey. Need more? It’s garnished with a speck-wrapped dill spear and arrives in a Mason jar with a Sriracha-salt rim. Make a reservation at Manhattan Beach Post.
Maple Pumpkin Pie Martini, BALEEN, Naples, Florida
We have a new favorite cold-weather liquor: butter-washed Crown Royal Maple. The we-bet-it-would-be-awesome-on-pancakes spirit takes a starring role in this pumpkin pie- inspired martini. The dessert-in-a-glass is boosted with orange-forward dry Curaçao and spiced pear liqueur. Make a reservation at BALEEN.
Iberico & Bourbon, Herb & Wood, San Diego, California
Consider this tip-to-tail-to-tipple bartending. Lead bartender Will Van Leuven fat washes Old Forester bourbon with leftover Iberico pork drippings. He adds Amaro Montenegro and aromatic bitters to balance out the richness and add a bittersweet bite. Make a reservation at Herb & Wood.
Nevin Martell is a Washington, D.C.-based food and travel writer and the author of several books, including Freak Show Without A Tent: Swimming with Piranhas, Getting Stoned in Fiji and Other Family Vacations. Find him on Twitter @nevinmartell and Instagram @nevinmartell.