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Discover Fat Washing

Understand the interesting practice of fat washing in mixology and learn how to use it to create inspired cocktail serves.

Estimated Reading Time: 7 Minutes  

Fatten Up Your Serves

As the boundaries of traditional mixology continue to be pushed, bartenders worldwide are turning to unconventional techniques to redefine our cocktail experiences. Among the intriguing methods rising in popularity is fat washing, a culinary technique that introduces rich, savory undertones to drinks.  

Fat washing allows bartenders to break convention and explore new taste profiles and blends to craft sensational drinks.   

Delve deeper into the creamy, luxurious realm of fat washing in cocktails and learn what flavors it complements and how to do it effectively.

What is Fat Washing?

Fat washing in mixology incorporates fats and oils from fruits, poultry or dairy products into spirits to infuse them with new flavor. These fats can be from things like:

  • Butter  
  • Bacon  
  • Duck fat   
  • Olive oil   
  • Coconut oil   

Once the infusion is complete, the spirit is chilled, solidifying the fats, which are removed, leaving their unique flavors behind.

To fat wash, you will need a few key tools to succeed

  1. Quality Fats: Whether it's bacon fat for a smoky whiskey, coconut oil for a tropical rum, or butter for a velvety bourbon, the choice of fat is crucial. 
  2. Sealable Containers: These are necessary for combining the fats and spirits during the infusion process.
  3. Fine Strainers & Cheesecloth: Essential for removing solidified fats and ensuring a clear, clean spirit. No one wants lumps in their drink. 

The process of fat washing is pretty time-intensive, but the reward for your patience is a unique, decadent liquid that can turn your drinks into genuine showstoppers. Follow these steps to fat wash effectively:  

  • Simmer the chosen ingredient you wish to incorporate into the fat/oil in a frying pan, making sure you do not burn the fat/oil as it will not taste good. 
  • Pour the fat into a container with the chosen spirit you wish to infuse. 
  • Place the fat/spirit mixture into a freezer for 6-8 hours. 
  • Once you take it out of the freezer you will see the fat has risen to the top of the container and the liquid to the bottom. 
  • Fine strain off the fat and you will be left with a fat washed spirit with great flavors. 

Getting the Most out of Fat Washing  

Fat washing is a complex process, and a lot can go wrong during it. To get the very best out of every droplet of fat, you need to follow the best practices adopted by some of the best bartenders in the world.  

Enhance your fat washing capabilities by considering the following 

  1. Choosing Your Fat: The choice depends on the desired flavor profile. Dairy fats like butter provide a creamy, rich note, while meats like bacon introduce savory, smoky undertones. Vegetable and nut oils, like olive or sesame, add nuanced, earthy flavors. 
  2. Infusion Time: Once the fat is melted and added to the spirit, the mixture should be left to infuse. This can range from a few hours to several days, depending on the intensity of flavor desired. 
  3. Solidification and Straining: After infusion, the spirit needs to be chilled, typically in a freezer, until the fat solidifies. Using a fine strainer or cheesecloth, the solid fat is then separated, leaving behind a spirit infused with its flavor. 
  4. Multiple Strainings: To achieve a clean, pure spirit free from any residual fat, it might be necessary to strain multiple times or even use a combination of cheesecloth and coffee filters.

Amazing Ways To Use Fat Washing

As it combines culinary elements, fat-washed drinks are perfect options to serve as digestifs and aperitifs to bookend a meal. There are so many fantastic ways to play around with fat washing, and it’s a technique that encourages experimentation. 

To get inspired, try some of these popular applications that are making waves in the industry:

Try these methods

Bacon-infused Bourbon  

Ideal for Old Fashioneds or Manhattans, infuse American whiskey or Bourbon with bacon fat to add a savory twist to classic recipes. 

Butter-infused Rum 

The creamy fat of butter is perfect for elevating tropical drinks or can simply be sipped on its own. 

Sesame-washed Gin  

Introducing nutty undertones that pair beautifully in East Asian-inspired cocktails by washing your spirits with sesame oil.  

Fat washing is more than just a fad; it's a testament to the ever-evolving artistry of mixology. While the technique demands precision and patience, the resulting flavors —rich, layered, and captivating — are worth the effort.

In the hands of the adventurous mixologist, fat washing is not just a process but an opportunity to bring many previously unexplored flavor profiles into the bar and create engaging new guest experiences. 

Key Takeaways

  • Fat washing infuses the flavors of various fats to add new flavor profiles.   
  • You can fat-wash drinks with duck fat, bacon fat, and fat from oils, butter, and more.   
  • The process involves cooking the fat you want to use, collecting it, and chilling it with the liquid so it freezes and can be removed.   
  • The time you leave the fat to infuse will affect the intensity of the flavors.   
  • Fat washing goes great with bourbon, rum, and gin.