Fat Washing Your Bourbon Cocktail

April 25, 2023
Fat Washing Your Bourbon Cocktail

I'll have to admit that when I heard the tag line "fat washing" as it related to bourbon, I had to do a short double take to ensure I was reading it right.  It was a phrase that I wasn't terribly familiar with, though was however quite well versed with the nuances that fat can bring to the experience of tasting bourbon.  Fat can be quite important actually when you think of Foods that Pair with Bourbon and can really add a lot of depth to the experience, helping pull forward flavors that you may not otherwise experience in your dram.  When you think of fat washing you may think greasy and unpleasant, which is where my mind went initially, and you're obviously not going to find drinks which use this method marketed as "fat washed" if you're out and about either.  I may not be the best promoter, but even I know that "fat washed cocktail X" isn't exactly a winning ticket in the marketing department. In reality however, fat washing helps yields nuanced cocktails which may elevate your overall cocktail experience and which you may have already seen marketed as something like "Bourboneur's bacon infused old fashioned"...which, definitely rolls off the tongue a lot nicer and may actually be something you'd consider buying!

What is Fat Washing?

Simply put, fat washing is the process of flavoring bourbon using fat.  Beyond using bacon for fat washing, other fats that are used include coconut oil, duck fat, olive oil, sesame oil, etc.  Where you get the fat from isn't necessarily important, but all depending on your choice, a variety of nuanced flavors can be imparted.

How Much Fat Is Required to Fat Wash Bourbon?

In general, you should plan on about two ounces or a smidge more for a typical 750ml bottle.  Two ounces equates to about a dozen teaspoons in case you were wondering.

How to Fat-Wash a Bourbon

To fat-wash a cocktail you'll take your fat of choice, such as bacon fat and if necessary, heat it up to the point at which it becomes a liquid.  You'll then infuse it in whatever variety of bourbon you're looking to use in your recipe by pouring it into a container such as clean Tupperware and shaking gently to combine.  Allow the combined liquid to set for approximately an hour and then freeze it overnight to let the fat separate further and harden.  Once set you can simply scrape it off or take a cheesecloth and strain the liquid to remove.  Most likely, a combination of both will be required; plan on having to strain the bourbon two or three times to thoroughly remove the unwanted solids.

Differences Resulting from Fat Washing Bourbon

When it's all said and done, you'll have a spirit that looks pretty much like how you started with the only difference being the sweet aroma of the bacon fat or other infused fat being noticeable.  You'll also notice that the feel of the bourbon in your mouth has changed, coating your lips and tongue with a unique, silky fattiness, shocker right?  Another difference, and an important one in fact is that if you're infusing your bourbon with fat from a meat like bacon or dairy even, you'll need to store the resulting bourbon in the fridge and probably work your way through the batch within three weeks or risk getting ill.  I know that won't be a problem for many of you Bourboneurs out there.

Bourboneur's Bacon Infused Old-Fashioned

To make our suggested recipe, we use Four Roses bourbon that is infused using the method described above.  We also use what was at one time at least referred to as a "Grade B" maple syrup, which is thicker and darker in color and yields a more robust flavor profile.

  • 2 ounces bacon infused bourbon
  • 0.25 ounces maple syrup
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Orange peel garnish

Directions:  Combine ingredients over ice in a double old-fashioned glass and stir to combine ingredients.  Add garnish.  Drink!!!

If You Know, You Know...

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