Give Your Fat-Washed Cocktails A Cheesy Makeover

Picture this: A blend of aged cheddar, mozzarella, or even parmesan mingling with your favorite whiskey or vodka and creating a carefully concocted, fat-washed cocktail. But, what exactly are fat-washed cocktails? Fat-washed cocktails involve infusing spirits with the distinctive flavors of fats or oils, adding a velvety, savory element to your drinks.

Traditionally, fats like bacon, butter, and olive oil have been used. However, cheese has now entered the conversation. When it comes to adding cheese, it's not as simple as tossing a chunk of Velveeta into your cocktail. Instead, you need to transform it and steep it into your spirit first. This can be accomplished by either heating up your cheese and integrating it into your spirit or utilizing a cold infusion method involving the rinds and simply steeping them in alcohol.  

Once your cheese-infused spirit is marinated, you'll then strain it and incorporate it into your cocktails. Explore using it as a cheesy cold foam, oil, simple syrup, or even a base to elevate your cocktail creations. The technique is believed to have been popularized by renowned bartender Don Lee. His exploration of bacon fat-washed bourbon in the mid-2000s paved the way for this innovative trend, inspiring countless others to push the boundaries of mixology. His early infusions included flavors like duck fat, bourbon, brown butter, and even cheese.

Incorporating cheese into fat-washed cocktails

Curious about incorporating different cheeses with fats and alcohol? Start with a straightforward approach. Begin by selecting your cheese, then consider the flavor profile. Is it a hard cheese like parmesan or a softer option like ricotta? Cheeses like mozzarella and ricotta possess more subtle, milky flavors, allowing them to shine as versatile components. They work particularly well in cheese foams that crown your fat-washed cocktail. They also can work as a milk or cream substitution in your cocktail. 

For parmesan, a classic gin martini infused with thyme and parmesan oil could be an excellent choice, blending the richness of cheese with the botanical notes of gin. The key to infusing hard cheeses is to try and avoid heat; this preserves the integrity of the cheese. Use processes like cold infusions to get the best results for your parmesan or havarti cocktail infusion.

Another helpful tip is to think of the fat-washing process as working just like traditional infusions. Think of your cheese as a vanilla bean; your alcohol will naturally absorb parts of the fat and water-soluble part of the ingredient just the same. Fat washing has created crazy concoctions, like fat-washing with peanut butter or even whole grilled cheese sandwiches. So, don't shy away from certain cheeses like gorgonzola. Just remember not to let your flavor combinations become too gouda to be true!