Friday, July 31, 2009

some days I feel like my shadow's casting me

Basically, think of this blog as a place where I list all the words that I know, in no order except as I think of them, and then tell you what I know about the words and some sentences they're useful in.  Only the words are food.

For instance: fat-washing is the infusing of alcohol with flavors from fat or something fatty.  That which is fat-soluble is also alcohol-soluble, so if you combine something greasy and full of flavor with some flavorless alcohol like 100 proof vodka, the flavor tumbles down the hill from the high point to the low one.  (I don't know if this means you can make bourbon-flavored non-alcoholic butter. That would be nifty, though.) 

You've heard about this because you're on the internet and you've seen bacon vodka or bacon-infused bourbon or a bacon Old-Fashioned, and so on. You introduce the fat to the alcohol, let them sit for a while, and then put the thing in the freezer so that the fat becomes solid and easy to remove.  That way you're not dealing with greasy vodka and bacony mouthfeel later.


For instance, I made butter-infused single-malt whiskey. (Not Scotch.  I used Wasmund's, an American whiskey made very similarly to Scotch.  "Whiskey" basically describes a process of distilling alcohol from grains, which may or may not be malted; malted grains are germinated (so that they sprout) and then dried to keep them from developing further. Single-malt whiskey is composed purely of whiskey produced by a single distillery; the term is associated with Scotch, obviously.  Whiskey terminology is complicated, fairly stupid, and widely misunderstood -- keep an ear out for how many times people in movies say "whiskey and bourbon," when bourbon is a type of whiskey.  For that matter, even most people familiar with whiskey think bourbon has to be made in Kentucky; most of it is, but the term describes a specific process and spectrum of ingredients, and bourbon can be made on the moon for all that it matters.)

I melted the butter, combined it with the whiskey, and let it sit for a few days before putting it in the freezer.  Unlike the people who've described fat-washing bacon and the removal of a disk of fat from the top of the frozen bottle, my butter stayed pretty well distributed throughout the whiskey.  But the solids were solid enough that they could be filtered out with a mesh strainer without a problem.

Took the butter-flavored whiskey, blended it up with vanilla ice cream, grade B maple syrup, and some dots of Angostura bitters on top.  Tada.  Butterscotch cocktail.


  1. That's fascinating. You never hear of bartenders and mixologists doing that, at least not in my part of the world.

    There's this great cookbook I picked up recently called "Fat: An appreciation of a misunderstood ingredient" by Jennifer McLagan. Its chapters and recipes are divided according to different animal fats: milk/cream/butter fats, pork fat, poultry fat, and beef and lamb fat. It contains a lot of good info and great recipes, but unfortunately doesn't have any information on adding a fat to cocktails, which is a shame because reading your post here makes me realize she's got a big hole in her book.

  2. Bill,

    Great blog! I enjoy Wasmund's as well. I'm Tom from , I welcome you to check out our blog too. Just came across your articles looking around at bourbon online. Cheers, Tom