The bacon fat-washed Old Fashioned that bar pro Don Lee famously created for PDT several years ago now seems downright quaint. Since then, bartenders have stepped up their game, “washing” spirits with fat from meats (duck fat, Wagyu beef, chorizo), brown butter, even a double whammy of milk fat and peanut butter. Given the culinary bent of these cocktails, not surprisingly most of the below come from bars affiliated with restaurants—where access to a full kitchen makes sourcing ingredients and tools for fat-washing a bit easier.
Wagyu Old Fashioned (Sushi Samba, New York City)
London cocktail guru Richard Woods gave the sushi stalwart’s drink menu a refresh for 2016, including this luscious take on the Old Fashioned, made with Wagyu beef fat-washed Japanese whiskey, maple syrup and housemade salted caramel liqueur.
Chorizo Cocktail (Estrellon, Madison, WI)
At Spanish restaurant Estrellón, chorizo is showcased throughout the menu—including the cocktail menu. Bar Manager Mike Lu mixes chorizo fat-washed bourbon with Spanish vermouth, lemon and orange juice, maple syrup, and Angostura and blackstrap bitters for a libation that hits spicy, bitter and sweet all at once.
At this elegant bar within The Langham hotel, beverage director Priscilla Young mixes brown butter fat washed Death’s Door White Whiskey with cranberry and orange marmalade.
Pierce’s Lunch (The Musket Room, New York City)
Named for chef/owner Matt Lambert’s son, Pierce, this cocktail from bar director Chris Barry is made with housemade peanut butter-infused pisco, white concord grape syrup, verjus blanc, dry vermouth and housemade cinnamon bitters. Yes, it references the classic PB&J sandwich, but it’s surprisingly crisp and quaffable. Note: When Concord grapes are gone for the season, so is this drink.
Follow the Map (Pennyroyal, Seattle, WA)
Bartender Chad Phillips infuses Flor de Caña 7 Year Rum with duck fat, then mixes it with ginger syrup, lemon, honey, and a surprise ingredient: a barspoon of ricotta. “The ricotta adds a creamy texture, similar to an egg white,” Phillips explains. “It provides a rich, full flavor while being surprisingly light.” A sprinkle of grated nutmeg completes this rich sip.
BBQ Old Fashioned (Belcampo Meat Co., Santa Monica, CA)
It’s not just spirits that get treated to fat-washing: Bitters can be fat-washed too, as in this drink from acclaimed butchery Belcampo. Inspired by a pork dry rub, this cocktail blends brown sugar and Balcones Baby Blue bourbon with a trio of bacon fat-washed bitters, smoked bitters and peppered bitters. The cocktail is finished with flamed barbecue aromatics and garnished with a piece of Belcampo’s own beef jerky, creating the unmistakable sensation of sipping on smoky barbecue.
A reference to everyone’s favorite movie about a wee pig with a can-do spirit, this drink, a creation of bar manager Seth Freidus, is made with smoke pork-infused Scotch whiskey, Green Mountain Maple Liqueur, Dolin Rouge vermouth and absinthe.
The Dutchman and the Farmer (Resto, New York City)
Here, beverage director Bill Brooks infuses Solbeso, a cacao-based spirit, with two different types of fat—peanut butter and milk fat—for an unusual riff on the classic White Russian. The double fat-washed drink is rounded out with a triple-infused vodka (coffee, chocolate and vanilla bean) for a nearly-clear glassful that will surprise.