When Fat-Washing Your Cocktail, Complementary Flavors Are A Must

When bartenders and mixologists talk about taste pairings for fat-washing cocktails, they may say that anything is game. This phrase is meant to encourage creativity, but not carte blanche. Fats affect each spirit's flavor profile differently, so to produce a harmoniously fat-washed drink and avoid a cocktail-making mistake, you'll need to make a great fat-spirit match.

As you experiment, you'll learn to avoid fats that may overpower the alcohol you're using. Gin, for instance, is noteworthy for its flavor profile's botanicals and spices, so you'll want to consider fats that will positively impact the gin without overwhelming it. Olive oil that's infused with herbs like rosemary or thyme could be a good place to start experimenting. Rum, as another example, pairs well with coconut, so coconut milk or pure coconut oil could make great combinations. Just know that the oil will deliver a completely unique texture and a more powerful aroma than the milk. Alternatively, animal fat works nicely when paired with a spirit that has more heft, like a lean scotch.

Channel positive experiences when pairing fats and spirits

The technique of fat-washing cocktails has gained popularity ever since bartender Don Lee of New York City's Please Don't Tell concocted a Benton's Old Fashioned back in the early 2000s. Lee wanted to give his cocktail-loving customers a drink that was more than just delicious — he wanted to give them an experience.

When pairing fat with your alcohol, consider flavors that elicit a memory or a good vibe. For example, Lee chose the best bacon he'd ever had to fat-wash his old fashioned. Keep in mind that fat pairings will also affect the mouthfeel of your wash. Plant oils like extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil deliver a velvety mouthfeel that adds to the drinking experience.

Even getting straightforward fat-spirit combos right takes practice, so be kind to yourself as you experiment through trial and error. A few daring (but still easy) pairs to get you started are vodka with truffle oil, butter with moonshine, and gin with blue cheese. As you progress, you'll rule out pairings that seemed smart but didn't ultimately deliver.