Monday, March 31, 2008

Fat washing and you: Grand Marnier & Navan Mixology Summit edition

I take a lot of notes. A lot. When I talk to bartenders I sometimes like to glean info on techniques as well as recipes. Many times I tend to file it away in my on repository of cool things to keep in mind or it gets buried in an entry, and that's kind of unfair. So, in the spirit of freedom of information, I decided I'm going to try and do "...and you" blog entries that break out shop talk separately. And if possible, try to illustrate these with photos.

Luckily, the Mixology Summit has a seminar hosted by Steve Olson with his Wine Geek staff holding stations explaining different techniques and styles of bartending.

In this edition of "...and you" I grabbed a visual of fat washing, demonstrated by Mr. Don Lee himself, who with Phil Ward, was also explaining how to make bitters. I've mentioned fat washing plenty of times before, and not that it's hard to understand the process, but I really wanted to show a visual of how it looks. Also, I wanted an excuse to talk about the Buttered Popcorn Rum cocktail.

When I previously talked with Don, he had mentioned the bacon-infused bourbon and brought some to the seminar. And yes, it definitely has smoky bacon flavor. He also showcased his buttered popcorn rum.

The buttered popcorn rum starts with 10 Cane Rum. Air popped popcorn is added to the rum, then processed through mesh bags to get all the popcorn flavor, but none of the kernels. Then clarified butter is infused in the rum for four hours before being fat washed.

Don did a quick ice bath demonstration of fat washing to illustrate how easily the fat solidifies for extraction.

When Don makes his fat washed spirits, he makes five gallons at a time and uses a blast chiller, but for those of you who want to make smaller batches and fast, Don said he's previously used liquid nitrogen as well for quick demonstrations. As long as you can chill the spirit enough to solidify the fat, that's what matters.

Don also mentioned that another thing to keep in mind when fat washing is to not use a bottle or any container that tapers to a small opening. Try to use wide-mouthed containers that allow as much surface area contact between the spirit and the fat for maximum flavor transfer.

Don said that adding coke to the rum created a flavor experience that's like "going to the movies." Cocktails using the buttered popcorn rum and bacon bourbon are both currently on the menu at PDT.

Mixology Summit, seminar bonus!!

Making bitters, and you: (Don Lee, PDT)
" really takes a long time. When you're making new drinks you can mix one up, taste it, and if you don't like it dump it out in 30 seconds. With bitters it takes months."

So instead of making large batches of bitters, Don suggested that if you want to play around with different flavored bitters, make small batches of tinctures, alcoholic extracts made by leaving herbs and herbal ingredients in alcohol. Don prefers neutral grain spirits, but you can experiment with other spirits, just remember the infusion time may differ depending on the spirit used. They don't require as much time as bitters and they provide single note flavors you can test before moving on to more complex bitters.

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