We’ve become a little oil-obsessed of late, have you noticed? Where back in the day oily anything was the scourge of a healthy diet, now it’s practically essential thanks to all the science-y discoveries telling us just how much our brains and hormones and metabolisms need a good fat injection every now and then. And bam, just like that there’s a veritable buffet of A-Okay oils to choose from. Coconut, olive, avocado, almond, macadamia, even butter (an organic one, of course) aint frowned upon.
But something a lot of us overworked humans, hankering for a buzz have always had a love affair with is…alcohol.
Now here’s where the story of my intrigue takes shape. Fat washing – the happy union of using fats to transfer flavour into alcohol.
While cocktails have long since made friends with butters and olive oils in this old-school cocktail technique, I was curious about whether a healthier fat like MCT and coconut oil could soon shape up as main contenders in our cocktails.
Since it’s the season of socialising, I decided to pop out from behind my laptop and head over to the Radisson Blue Granger Bay for some face-to-face expert input. Mixologists AJ Snetler and Melrick Harrison were kind enough to walk me through the yes, no’s and maybes of MCT fat washing.
But let’s take a step back for a sec because I know most of my friends looked at me like I was about to convince them of the latest intestine cleaning health ritual when I started talking about fat-washing.
What is fat-washing exactly?
Fat washing is actually a nifty method of transferring flavour into alcohol. You see, alcohol molecules are friendly folk. One end is positive, which makes it water-loving. The other is negative, which is oil-loving. So, it mixes well with all types and grabs onto the flavour profiles of whatever emulsion you make with your liquor. It’s a simple process. Add a liquefied fat to your alcohol. Mix it well and let it stand in your freezer. The fat and alcohol will separate as the fat sets in colder temps and can then be scraped off the alcohol leaving behind only a subtle trace of flavour and a super silky mouthfeel.
AJ tells me that vanilla butter bourbon and bacon fat Old Fashioneds are pretty common infusions.
When it comes to bringing cocktails into the healthy new age with an MCT fat washing, they reckon you’re better off sticking to coconut oil. MCT (medium-chain triglyceride) oil, the 6% extraction of coconut oil, may be the skinny, flavourless hero in your bulletproof coffee but since fat washing won’t retain any health properties from the fat beyond its flavour, a flavourless MCT oil is better suited to a cocktail tincture. Here’s how AJ and Melrick suggest you put both to excellent and delicious tasting use at your next holiday shindig.
MCT Better Bitters
Allow the MCT oil to infuse with these festive flavours. Go easy on the clove. When whipping up your next Rock Shandy, add a few drops of this improvised bitters tincture into the finished cocktail. The MCT oil will carry and disperse the flavours nicely into your drink without adding its own, while giving you a heady aroma through every sip.
Coconut Oil Bacardi
750ml Bacardi Rum
250ml Coconut Oil
1 stick of lemongrass
Heat the coconut oil with lemongrass for 5-10 minutes. Remove the lemongrass stick and then pour the somewhat cooled but not yet set mixture into your Bacardi. Give it a good mix and pop it in the freezer. Once set, scrape off the oil. Alternatively, you can infuse your Bacardi directly with the lemongrass over a few weeks and then fat wash with plain coconut oil to get the smooth mouthfeel and subtle, tropical taste.
If experimenting with your cocktails is not your vibe, AJ and Melrick would be happy to give you a fat-washed cocktail experience in person at the Radisson Blu Granger Bay Tobago’s Bar.