Next in our How-To series, we take a look at fat washing, or flavouring alcohol with cooking fats.
What is Fat Washing
Fat washing is not a new technique nor is it an up and coming trend. It was popularised around 2007 by bartender Don Lee from PDT (Please Don’t Tell) in New York with the Benton’s Old Fashioned, a drink he made using bacon fat-washed bourbon. You can read more about the cocktail in The PDT Cocktail Book.
The principle of fat washing is based around flavouring alcohol with molten fats such as bacon, butter, coconut oil and duck fat. It may sound unappetising at first but the technique imparts a richer texture and a silky mouthfeel to the drink rather than a strong flavour.
For the home bartender, fat washing is a simple method that doesn’t require special tools and can be achieved overnight. The process involves infusing a spirit with molten liquid fat in a jar, leaving it at room temperature for the molecules to interact then freezing the mixture overnight, scooping off the fat and straining the spirit.
Popular Fat Washing Combinations
- bourbon and melted smoky bacon fat
- rum and coconut oil
- vodka and truffle oil
- moonshine and butter
- vodka/gin and olive oil
- gin and olive oil
- rye whiskey and duck fat
- butter and moonshine
- gin and blue cheese
Other fats include peanut butter, foie gras, clarified butter or ghee, chorizo, lamb fat and avocado.
Fat Washing Ratios
The Liquid Intelligence book by Dave Arnold recommends 120g/4 oz per 750ml for strong tasting fats like smoked bacon and 240g/8 oz for less strong fats such as butter and olive oil though it is worth nothing that the ratios needs experimentation to reach the desired outcome. He also states that the fat should be fresh and of good quality. The fat you use must in liquid form, so if you’re using butter or duck fat for instance, make sure it is melted, and if you’re using bacon fat, cook the bacon first and collect the fat.
The following are generic instructions for fat washing alcohol which can be adapted to any spirit and fat combination. The ratios can be scaled down if you plan to use smaller quantities.
How to Fat Wash Alcohol
- 120g/4 oz strong tasting fat OR 240g/8 oz for less strong fats
- 1 bottle (750ml) of spirit such as bourbon, gin, vodka
- pan (for melting non liquid fat, or cooking bacon rashers)
- wide mouth glass jar
- fine strainer
- coffee filter
If using non liquid fat such as bacon fat, heat a fry pan and cook the bacon until crisp and the fat has rendered. Remove the cooked bacon and once it has cooled down, pour the liquid fat into a glass jar. Add the spirit, put the lid on the jar and give it a hard shake. Leave it at room temperature for about 4 to 5 hours for the flavours to infuse then put the jar in the freezer overnight.
The next day, the fat would have solidified on top of the spirit. Using a knife, make a hole through the congealed fat and pour the spirit through a fine strainer lined with a cheesecloth. If required, fine strain again through a coffee filter to remove any left over solids.
You may also like: Olive Oil Washed Martini
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