We have always wanted to try washing a Spirit with some type of fat and we finally decided to take the plunge a few weeks back.
We just happened to have some Duck Fat on hand as we were pan frying duck breasts and the recipe called for Duck Fat in the frying stage of the recipe.
So what does “washing” mean with respect to a spirit and what role does fat play in that process?
As Dave Arnold states in his book Liquid Intelligence:
”The concept of washing liquids takes a little getting used to. You wash cloths to remove dirt; you wash ingredients to remove flavours. You can use washing in your cocktail ventures in two ways. You can booze-wash - usually milk, gelatin, hydrocolloids, or eggs - to bind unwanted compounds in the Liquor so that you can remove them. You can also fat-wash to wring good flavours out of a fat and into liquor, and then use that liquor to make something delicious. In the first example you’re washing a liquor; in the second you’re washing a fat.”
As noted our fat of choice was Duck Fat which we purchased from a nearby supermarket (Co-op). We then decided to pair this with an orange liqueur. We chose Pierre Fernand Dry Orange Curaçao. This spirit is based on a 19th century recipe - three separate distillations of spices and the bitter peels of Curaçao oranges blended with Brandy and Ferrand Cognac.
To fat-wash the Curaçao we combined 500 mg of Dry Curaçao and 50 g of room temperature Duck Fat in a small mason jar. We then stirred them together and put the combined mixture in the freezer overnight.
In the morning, the Duck Fat separated and migrated to the top of the mason jar. We then pushed down on the solid Duck Fat and slightly pushed it to the side of the jar to access the washed Curaçao. Then we tipped the mason jar and pour the washed Curaçao into a separate container. Lastly, we discarded the solid Duck Fat and filtered the Curaçao one more time with cheese cloth and put aside the Curaçao for use.
We then prepared our themed cocktail. We opted for a spirit to pair the fat-washed orange liqueur with that included Spicy, and Woody and Carmel notes. Our spirit of choice was bourbon and we paired this with our Charred Cedar Bitters. The charred cedar notes in the bitter provided charred notes that complimented the final mixture. Then we christened the cocktail the "Charred Mandarin Duck".
Charred Mandarin Duck: 0.5 oz Duck Fat-washed Dry Curaçao (Orange Liqueur made from Curaçao oranges blended with brandy and Fernandez cognac), 1.75 oz Eagle Rare #4 Bourbon, 0.5 oz Simple Syrup, and 1 dash Charred Cedar Bitters. Garnish with Mandarin Orange Peel. The fat-washing creates a creamy texture to the Curaçao and transfers a touch of flavour to the Liqueur from the Duck Fat. We only used 1 dash of Bitters as to not take away form the fat-washing effects.
This was a fun project and the resulting cocktail was fabulous. We will add this one to the cocktail page of our website! If you are interested in purchasing the bitter in this post go to our Shop page, find a Retailer near you, or contact us directly.
Next steps, get this on the cocktail menu in the lounges at Mandarin Oriental Hotels!