The word ‘fat’ can be scary to people. ‘Duck fat’ may not be much better. But let’s try and repress those I can’t believe it’s not butter! years (because now I totally believe) and forget low-fat wraps, low-fat cheese, and low-fat anything ever.
Now. I’m sure you’ve all heard of duck breasts. Duck confit. Duck fat fries. Well, here’s another way to use it: in whiskey. How about duck fat infused spirits for this weekend’s cocktail hour? Yes.
Danny and I are jetting off to Austin soon for a wedding, and it’s also the adopted city of my dear college roommate and bestie, Kay. We booked the flight a while ago and have been counting down the days ever since.
On my last visit, we loved Péché and their wonderful cocktails, but now Kay told us about a new bar with a similar feel to it (and better prices). On the menu: a Sazerac made with duck fat, which is about all you have to say to convince Danny. He couldn’t wait. Within minutes, he had tracked down a duck fat Sazerac recipe (from another Austin bar, if you can believe it). Way before the trip, we decided to try mixing a few ourselves at home.
The duck fat had been in our fridge, in waiting, for a promise of duck confit or something else we’d experiment with but I’m glad its fate was this cocktail. The call for Peychaud’s bitters is specific as this is the one used to make the original cocktail, the Sazerac of New Orleans. It’s definitely different from our standby, angostura, and an essential to add to our bar anyway. We used the rye whiskey we had around (Bulleit) but know that Sazeracs are also made with cognac.
Infusing your own rye with duck fat is easy. (Ha!) I promise, it is. You might want to mix the fat in a bit of the rye before mixing it with all of the rye to make it easier. Shake it and it looks like a lava lamp.
So why infuse rye with duck fat? It makes for an incredibly smooth drink. It’s not at all greasy or fatty; this ‘fat-washing’ process just enriches the rye and makes a harmonious, smooth cocktail. We mixed up the Duck Fat Sazeracs for friends, and it’s one we’ll continue to make around here. We used the infused rye to make Manahattans later, too, and those were great as well. The ice is totally optional and not called for, but it’s been warm here and we don’t always have a chilled glass at the ready.
Did I mention you also get to play with fire for this? Strike a match and hold it up as you squeeze a lemon peel. The essential oils will release and spark. Just another reason we love this cocktail. I think you will, too.
duck fat sazeracs
Infusing rye with duck fat makes for an incredibly smooth cocktail, as at least a couple bars in Austin have discovered. This recipe comes from Haddingtons. Can’t book a flight to Austin right now? Serve this Sazerac at home until then.
for the duck fat-infused rye:
750 ml rye
1 1/2 ounces rendered duck fat
To infuse the rye whiskey, combine the rye and duck fat in a glass container. Combine the duck fat in a little bit of the rye before adding the rest to mix more easily. Shake it up and it will look like a lava lamp. Let infuse at room temperature for 12 hours, and then freeze overnight. In the morning, strain the rye using a cheesecloth into a clean glass container (we used the same one). Store in a glass container (we recycled a whiskey bottle); we store it in the freezer and bring it out for sazeracs or manhattans.
for the sazerac:
2 ounces duck fat-infused rye
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
1 teaspoon simple syrup
Fill a shaker or tall mixing glass with ice. Pour in duck fat-infused rye, bitters, and simple syrup. Stir until chilled, about 15 seconds.
Rinse a chilled glass with the absinthe and shake off the excess. Strain the rye mixture into the glass.
Squeeze the lemon peel to release its essential oils as you light it with a match over the mouth of the glass. You’ll see a small spark as the fire catches the oils. Drop the lemon peel into the glass and serve straight up (or with a big chunk of ice if you want a bit more chill).
Makes one drink. Recipe from Haddingtons in Austin via Serious Eats.