How to ‘Fat-wash’ Your Cocktails. And Why.

It was a new term to me: Fat-washing. What? Water Witch’s Scott Gardner was making a cocktail to show off American bartending to a group of New Yorkers and he demonstrated fat-washing the glass. “You mix the liquid fat with the whiskey, then put it in the refrigerator or freezer until the fat solidifies. Then you can take it off in one piece and go on with your cocktail recipe.”

The technique is familiar—cooks use it to skim sauces and gravies all the time, and perfumiers use a version of fat-washing in making scents. The result is familiar—fat carries flavor and adds luxury to mouth-feel. You can use butter, sesame oil, olive oil. What about bacon, ghee, chorizo?

If you use your imagination just a tad, you can come up with fantastic variations.

  • Dark rum and melted butter
  • Bacon and bourbon
  • Chorizo and bourbon
  • Brown butter and whiskey
  • Chocolate milk and vodka

I’ll be honest. I don’t know how many of these will work. But the idea of fat washing does set off tastebud sparks.

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For his New York sippers, Gardner made a Fat Manhattan.

How to 'Fat-wash' Your Cocktails

1. Mix the liquid fat with the chosen liquor. Need ideas? Check the list of combinations in above.

How to 'Fat-wash' Your Cocktails

2. Chill the mixture so the fat rises and solidifies, then lift it from the top of the liquid.

How to 'Fat-wash' Your Cocktails

3. Strain the liquid to remove any remaining fat bits.

4. Measure out the amount of fat-washed liquor you’ll need.

5. Strain the fatty liquor into the glass. Proceed with making your cocktail recipe—the fat in the liquor adds extra mouth-feel and umami.

6. The Fat Manhattan: fat-washed Sugar House American Malt whiskey, Oloroso sherry, toasted buckwheat, ginger, aromatic bitters

Mary Brown Malouf
Mary Brown Malouf
Mary Brown Malouf is the late Executive Editor of Salt Lake magazine and Utah's expert on local food and dining. She still does not, however, know how to make a decent cup of coffee.

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