We've talked about infusing flavors into a spirit many times before on Mike's Mix... and it's always the same process; allow the flavoring agent and the spirit sit together long enough, and the alcohol acts as a solvent to release the flavor molecules. This week's recipe also involves a flavor infusion, but of a different type. "Fat washing" is the preferred method for infusing more savory flavors into a spirit... and, yes, in most cases, those flavors come from goopy fats. If you think that sounds gross, you're not alone; no one wants a mouthful of bacon fat with their swig of bourbon. So, the key to a palatable fat wash is to remove as much of the grease as possible before serving it.
The process of fat washing begins by pouring liquified fat into a spirit and letting the mixture sit for a period, during which time the fat will impart its flavor. When it comes time to remove the fat, simply chilling the mixture in a refrigerator will cause the fat to separate from the alcohol, solidify, and rise to the top of the container. This will allow you to remove the majority of the fat easily by scraping it away with a spoon. Smaller pieces of leftover fat can be removed by pouring the remaining spirit through a coffee filter (or something similar); this will result in a clarified liquid that still contains the taste of bacon. Be sure to use a strongly flavored bacon -- the hickory smoked variety, for example. If you'd like to use the Pike Street Bourbon that is used in the Strange Relationship you can purchase it at local liquor stores or at the St. Paul Grill, as part of a gift set that also contains a bottle of the St. Paul Grill Barrel Select Minnesota bourbon; the cost is $75.
This article from seriouseats.com is an excellent resource on fat washing -- from what tastes the best, to what happens to the drink on a molecular level when fat is infused.
If you're looking to expand your liquor knowledge this fall, the St. Paul Grill has a Scotch club with 850 members and a wide selection of Scotches to try. Each sample purchased gets you closer to a complimentary 1-oz pour of The Macallan, a 55-year old Scotch valued at $750 a pour.
The Scotch Club also has a special event coming up, on Thursday October 16th at 6pm, that will feature tastings of five rare whiskeys and Scotches, heavy appetizers, and two guests from Laphroaig. Tickets are $100, including tax and gratuity, and reservations are required. Additional information can be found on the St. Paul Grill website.