Browned Butter Brings New Levels Of Flavor To Your Old Fashioned

Old Fashioned on wooden board
Old Fashioned on wooden board - Dr Faulkner/Shutterstock

An Old Fashioned is a truly classic cocktail, an enduring staple that you'll find in some form or another on nearly any bar menu these days -- especially if you're in Louisville, Kentucky, which claims to be the Old Fashioned's hometown. Boozy, aromatic, and a little sweet, the standard Old Fashioned is pretty simple and consists of bourbon or rye whiskey, sugar, water, bitters, and an orange slice.

This standard recipe is delicious on its own, but it's also simple enough that the cocktail is a perfect base for experimentation with ingredient additions. There's a lot of room to steer the Old Fashioned in new directions — so turn your attention to browned butter. The nutty, toffee flavor of browned butter, a distinctive taste that it gets from a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars that's called the Maillard reaction, is an ideal pairing for bourbon or whiskey.

It's not just a matter of dripping butter into your Old Fashioned's lowball glass, though. Adding ingredients like this requires a process called fat washing, wherein the flavors of oils and fats are infused into alcohol. Although fat washing was popularized for cocktails around the mid-2000s, the technique actually comes from perfumers, who used it to extract and infuse aromas.

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Trust The Process

Browned butter in a spoon
Browned butter in a spoon - Candice Bell/Shutterstock

The first step in creating your brown-butter-washed bourbon is to gently heat unsalted butter in a saucepan. You should have your heat at medium, but the browning won't take long — keep an eye on the butter so it doesn't burn. Stir the butter as it melts, and remove it from the heat once it becomes golden brown. Once you've got your browned butter, combine it with your bourbon or rye whiskey (at a ratio of about 1 cup of butter to one bottle of alcohol) in a freezer-safe container or sealable plastic bag. Let it sit and cool, then into the freezer it goes.

You should leave it in the freezer for at least an hour — enough time for the fat to freeze. When it's frozen, skim the fat off the top of the alcohol. The flavors of the browned butter will be left behind in your whiskey, introducing a slightly richer texture and a bold taste.

It may take some preplanning, but browned-butter-washed bourbon will infuse your cocktail with an intense and complex flavor.

Fat-Washed Flavor Infusion

Bacon Old Fashioned on wood
Bacon Old Fashioned on wood - Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

When you've got a process like fat-washing down, it opens up a whole new world of cocktails — because, as you might have guessed, browned butter isn't the only fat from which your alcohol might benefit, and it's easy to experiment. The same steps apply to any fat that you want to infuse in alcohol. Heat the fat up, mix it with any alcohol you choose, put the mixture into a freezer-safe container, and scrape off the fat after it's frozen.

A bacon-bourbon cocktail, called the Benton's Old Fashioned and created by mixologist Don Lee at Please Don't Tell in New York, brought bacon fat-washing to the public eye with its smoky, salty taste. And there are all kinds of cocktail recipes that include sesame or truffle oil, duck fat, pecan or peanut butter, even an olive-oil-washed Caprese Martini — so explore a world of savory and intricately sweet libations through new fat infusions.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.