Butter me up
If you’re making brunch this weekend, don’t ditch that bacon grease just yet. Let’s get a little weird and use it in a cocktail.
No, no – no one is drinking bacon fat! But, it does make for a fun and interesting infusion with whiskey, if you’re feeling adventurous.
“Fat washing,” as those in the biz call it, first showed up on a cocktail menu at the iconic New York bar Please Don’t Tell in 2007. A bartender there, Don Lee, infused fat from Benton’s country ham with bourbon, then stirred it into an Old Fashioned, which he aptly named “Benton’s Old Fashioned.” The result is a smoky, umami-bomb that does, in fact, taste like if bacon and an Old Fashioned had a baby. And thus the fat washing craze began, when you couldn’t shake a stick without hitting a bar with some kind of fat-infused drink on its menu.
It's easy to do at home and makes for an interesting flavor experience, as well as a good story! Another current popular method is using brown butter instead of bacon fat, for a nutty, buttery addition to your cocktail. Today, we’ll show you how to do both; let us know if you try it and what you think! (They’re not exactly crushable, but a well-made cocktail with this technique is a fun and tasty time!)
For the fat washing:
Note: The original recipe from PDT calls for infusing an entire 750 mL bottle of bourbon with 1 ½ liquid ounces of fat. If you’re just making enough for a couple cocktails, around 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons of fat for 4-6 ounces of bourbon is fine.
After making bacon, save the rendered fat. Add liquid fat to bourbon and let stand for four hours at room temperature. Next, move into the freezer for two hours. Finally, strain the bourbon through a cheesecloth-lined fine mesh strainer to remove the solids.
If using brown butter, use the above process, swapping the bacon fat for brown butter and increasing the freezer time to 24 hours. You may need to strain a few extra times to get all the solids out. Need a quick refresher on browning butter? Check out our friend The Cozy Plum!
To make the cocktail:
2 oz. fat-washed bourbon
¼ to ½ oz. dark maple syrup, to taste
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Add all ingredients into a mixing glass with ice and stir until well-chilled. Strain into a chilled rocks glass with a large ice cube. Garnish with an orange twist. Sip & enjoy!