Fat-Washing Alcohol: No Longer Just Used For Cocktails

One of the unsexiest words in the culinary world is also the mastermind behind some truly delicious concoctions.
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It all begins back in 2007 with the Benton's Old-Fashioned. Jim Meehan, owner of popular NYC bar PDT (Please Don't Tell), instructed one of his bartenders to come up with a fat-washed bourbon in the kitchen of his own home. The result: A bacon fat-washed smoky spirit that became the base of the bar's most popular cocktail.
Now, fat-washed spirits are making their way into more than just cocktails.

At Jimoto Ya, owner Sean McCully has been busy experimenting with ways to amp up the flavours of the restaurant's signature Ebi Ramen — a recipe created by chef Nobumasa Mieda of Michelin-starred restaurant MIEDA in Hokkaido, Japan. Together with new food e-commerce start-up Saucy, McCully came up with the idea to add a shot of Yamazaki whisky to his ramen.

Here, the premium Japanese single malt is fat-washed with pure ebi oil, then left in the freezer overnight to mellow out the spirit. A 20ml shot is then served with a bowl of Jimoto Ya's Ebi Miso Ramen, where diners are recommended to try the broth as is first, before adding in the fat-washed whisky. On its own, the broth packs a punch with the umami oils from the crushed amaebi (sweet shrimp) heads used to make the stock. The extra shot of fat-washed whisky, though, laces the aromatic soup with a lingering smoky finish. Almost like a warm hug you won't easily forget.
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At Jimoto Ya, a 20ml shot of Yamazaki whisky fat-washed with ebi oil is given to diners to add to their Ebi Miso Ramen.
At Jimoto Ya, a 20ml shot of Yamazaki whisky fat-washed with ebi oil is given to diners to add to their Ebi Miso Ramen.
To be sure, the technique has similarities to that of infusion. In fat-washing, cooking fats such as beef trimmings are added to alcohol and left to marry. The fats are then fine-strained out of the spirit to remove cloudiness.

SEE ALSO: Technique Thursdays - Why Tempura Is No Longer Just A Cooked Food Menu Option 

Over at Aburiya along Boat Quay, the restaurant uses the fat trimmings of their imported Hokkaido A4 wagyu to fat-wash their whiskies. The fats are cooked over low heat at 60 deg C for about 10 minutes, before the bits that don't melt are sieved out and disposed. The creamy liquid is then mixed with whisky and chilled in the fridge for eight to 10 hours before the fatty lipids are filtered out.

"You realise that when you taste the whisky (before and after it has been fat-washed), there is a difference to the fat-washed version. There's a mellow, sweeter edge. It's a good way to not waste our beef trimmings, and to give consumers a full dining experience," says Alex Abramov, manager at Aburiya and The Container. 

It might have started with a cocktail, but it looks like diners now have more ways to take the edge off a hard day's work.
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