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Pro tip: Adding butter to your fall cocktails will elevate your drink game

Strange as it sounds, butter belongs in your drink — Here are some delicious recipes to get started

Butter makes everything better. That’s even the case for cocktails, which could use the extra weight as we transition into cooler weather and need some slightly heavier drinks for fall. Thanks to fat washing, you can do just that.

We spoke to Stuart Weaver, a bartender and general manager at Lady Jane in Denver, for some advice on the subject. He says the benefits of incorporating butter into a drink are many, and you can do so without the fatty or oily mess. Here’s what he has to say about it, along with his recipe suggestions to really get the most out of your fall cocktails.

The Dirty Little Secret cocktail.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Butter in a cocktail? Seriously? Why?

“If you see the word ‘butter’ on a cocktail menu, that usually raises an eyebrow, but once we explain the process and encourage them to try it, they are usually pleasantly surprised,” Weaver says of his bar patrons. “Our guests are extremely fun and adventurous and come to Lady Jane to try new things, so it’s never a struggle to present bold concepts. I am very grateful for this; it also means that we have to continue to impress. But honestly, we love it.”

Weaver says butter has been finding its way into cocktails for ages, and he recalls fat washing being a thing for as long as he can remember. He credits former PDT bartender Don Lee with popularizing the technique with his Benton’s Old Fashioned in 2008. “As bartenders continue to push the boundaries of their creativity, more flavors and ingredients are being utilized, and more techniques are being developed! It’s really an exciting time in the world of bartending,” Weaver says.

Fat washing in particular can do some pretty remarkable things to a drink. “It incorporates the flavor into the booze while also imparting a silky and weighty mouthfeel, but [it’s] not grimy,” he says. “I have also noticed that it helps round out flavors and mellow the cocktail to help with balance.”

It’s a process that Weaver says you tend to see on menus more often in the colder months, but it can be adapted to all seasons. The drink pictured above, for example, is one he serves in the spring. It’s called the Dirty Little Secret and utilizes fat-washed gin, olive oil, vermouth, and more. Lady Jane recently had another drink featured called Dad Jokes, inspired by elote (aka Mexican street corn).

“To get that rich and silky texture for the cocktail, we incorporated butter utilizing this fat-washing technique,” Weaver says. “It may sound intimidating, but it is actually super easy and a great way to add a layer of complexity to a multitude of cocktails. You simply heat up your fat of choice (butter, oil, etc.), mix that into a bottle of booze, shake it up and let it sit for a little while, and then throw it in the freezer. The fat will freeze and form a hard layer on top of the booze (which won’t freeze) that you just pop off. Shazam! Bar magic!”

Ready to give butter a go? Weaver set us up with a few great recipes to try some of these techniques out with next time you make some fall drinks for your guests. Cheers!

An Old Fashioned whiskey cocktail at a bar.

Bacon Old Fashioned

Here’s an Old Fashioned that Ron Swanson would approve of.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces bacon-fat-infused bourbon*
  • 1/4 ounce maple syrup (grade B)
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • Orange peel for garnish

Method

  1. Stir and strain all ingredients over large ice cube in a double old fashioned glass.
  2. Garnish with orange peel.

*Bacon-fat-infused bourbon: Remove two ounces of bacon fat. On low heat, warm bacon fat in a small saucepan. Stir until it melts, about five minutes. Combine fat and 750 ml of bourbon in a nonreactive container (do not pour back into the bottle) and stir or shake to combine. Let the mixture come to room temperature for an hour, then place in the freezer overnight. Strain bourbon through cheesecloth or a coffee filter and bottle. Keep refrigerated. Will last for up to one month.

rum cocktails

Coconut Bombo

Combining a special infusion and an easy-to-make syrup, this cocktail is endlessly tropical.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces coconut-oil-infused aged rum*
  • 1/4 ounce cinnamon syrup*
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Orange peel for garnish

Method

  1. Stir and strain all ingredients over large ice cube in a double old fashioned glass.
  2. Garnish with orange peel.

*Coconut-oil-infused aged rum: On low heat, warm 4 oz of raw coconut oil in a small saucepan. Stir until it melts, about five minutes. Combine oil and 750 ml of aged rum in a nonreactive container (do not pour back into the bottle) and stir or shake to combine. Let the mixture come to room temperature for an hour, then place in the freezer overnight. Strain rum through cheesecloth or a coffee filter and bottle. Keep refrigerated. Will last for up to one month.

*Cinnamon syrup: Toast four cinnamon sticks in a small pot over medium heat, taking care not to burn them. Combine 550 grams of white sugar and 550 grams of water in the pot over medium heat. Stir continually until sugar dissolves. Bring to a low simmer and then let simmer for two minutes. Let come to room temperature for one hour, then strain out cinnamon sticks and refrigerate. Can be refrigerated for up to one month.

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Mark Stock
Mark Stock is a writer from Portland, Oregon. He fell into wine during the Recession and has been fixated on the stuff since…
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