Depending on the type of person you are, the term "fat-wash" will either sound delicious or disgusting to you. A fat-washed cocktail might evoke images of tubs of lard, but it's really just the term for a technique of infusing liquors with other flavors. At Washington, DC's Ripple, bar manager Josh Berner is currently offering a series of fat-washed cocktails, featuring gin infused with sesame oil, mezcal flavored with bacon, and vodka enriched with olive oil.
After seeing a few different bars flavoring booze with rendered bacon, Berner got interested in using olive oil and other vegetable oils to add flavor to spirits. The process is basically the same no matter what you use: spirits are mixed with the fatty flavoring agent, then chilled in the freezer until the fat solidifies, then strained to yield a clear infused spirit.
Berner's Play It Sam ($12) is a spin we've never seen before: a sesame-infused gin cocktail. Named for Ingrid Bergman's famously misquoted line from Casablanca, Berner wanted to create a recipe with aquavit, which is flavored with caraway and anise. "When I hit upon blending [the aquavit and gin] with dates, I realized that all the flavors were typically found in Moroccan cuisine." Hence, the Casablanca reference and the choice of sesame oil to infuse the gin. The end result is a very clean, earthy flavor that's a great reprieve from the summer heat.
Can't make it to DC to give the "Play It Sam" a try? It's easy to make sesame-oil infused gin and the entire cocktail at home.