What Is a Fat-washed Cocktail?

At some of Denver’s top restaurants, mixologists are infusing the drinks with the flavors of the kitchen with wow-worthy results.

The Fifth String’s I Like Me Butter cocktail
Photo by Jake Holschuh.

It’s time to put aside your preconceived notions about fat. With the rise of fat-washed cocktails, Denver’s mixologists are proving that fat is not just a guilty pleasure but a groundbreaking flavor innovator. These lipid-infused libations are taking the Mile High City by storm, marrying familiar spirits with unexpected fats to produce an intoxicatingly unique and sumptuous experience.

At its core, fat-washing is a simple infusion technique that imbues a liquid, boozey or otherwise, with the flavor and texture of the fat. The process begins by melting a fat—such as bacon grease, butter, or coconut oil—and blending it with a spirit. The mixture then chills, allowing the fat to solidify and separate from the fluid. Finally, the bartender strains the concoction, leaving behind a spirit infused with the luscious essence of the fat.

Why go to the trouble of fat-washing? The answer lies in the complexity and depth it adds to the drinking experience. Fats enhance mouthfeel, imparting a silky smoothness that lingers on the palate. More importantly, fat-washing unlocks flavor compounds that are otherwise unattainable, revealing unexpected dimensions to classic cocktails.

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Fat-washed cocktail
Photo by Jake Holschuh.

In the world of fat-washed drinks, there are no limits to creativity. Bourbon, for instance, takes on a whole new persona when washed with bacon grease, producing a smoky, savory delight. Coconut oil can lend a tropical touch to rum or gin, while butter elevates the velvety warmth of whiskey.

Denver’s bars and restaurants have fully embraced the fat-washed trend, with innovative concoctions appearing on menus citywide. Take, for example, The Fifth String’s I Like Me Butter beverage, which uses Legent Bourbon that has been infused with a rich and nutty flavor from the brown butter wash. Ararat VS, Maraska Walnut Liqueur, Nardini, Angostura, and orange bitters are added to create a smooth and velvety finish, with complementary buttery notes and a touch of sweetness. At Guard & Grace, the herbal Bénédictine liqueur is washed with fat from A5 Wagyu for the High Roller Vieux Carre, while at Skybar in Stanley Marketplace, a margarita is transformed by avocado-soaked mezcal.

Fat-washed cocktails are more than a fleeting fad; they’re a testament to the endless possibilities of flavor exploration. Don’t shy away from these lipid-infused libations. Embrace the revolution and indulge in the rich world of washed spirits.