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The Easiest Way to Infuse Any Spirit With Real Coconut Flavor |

The Easiest Way to Infuse Any Spirit With Real Coconut Flavor


Photo: Adam Jaime (Unsplash)

If the words “coconut rum” bring forth a small wave of nausea, it’s quite possible your experience with coconut-flavored spirits have been limited to Malibu (or something equally cloying). But real, delicious coconut flavor is a delight and it can be added to any spirit—not just rum—by “washing” the booze with a little coconut oil.

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How can you wash something with oil?

“Fat washing” is a technique that suddenly surged in popularity in the mid-to-late-2000s, resulting in all sorts of meaty cocktails and a whole lot of bacon bourbon. It’s a pretty simple technique—you take a flavorful fat (such as bacon grease or coconut oil), add it to some booze, let it infuse, then freeze the whole thing so the fat rises to the top and solidifies. Scrape off the hardened fat and, thanks to a little amphiphile (a molecule that loves both fat and water) known as “ethanol”, one is rewarded with a flavored spirit.

What about the mouthfeel?

I have never noticed an oil slick character in any of the many fat-washed cocktails I’ve enjoyed, but the process does give your booze a kind of “round” or “soft” character. If anything, I’ve found fat washing makes a spirit easier to enjoy straight-up—yes, I’m am speaking of shots—as it tempers harshness and adds fun flavor.

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So, just any coconut oil will do?

No, and I’m so glad you asked this question. It is imperative that you use virgin, not refined coconut oil, as refined coconut oil has a neutral flavor, which is great for baking cookies but terrible for flavoring rum (or gin, of vodka, or whiskey). About 3/4 of a cup of coconut oil for 750 milliliters of spirit is plenty. Just melt it down (either on the stove or in your microwave), pour it in a big jar with the booze, and shake it up. Let it hang out for at least three hours or overnight, giving the jar a shake every once in a while, then pop it in the freezer until it is frozen. (By “it” I mean the oil, not the booze; the booze will not freeze.) If you can pop the oil cap out easily, do so, otherwise carve a hole in the solid oil, and pour the booze out through that hole, straining through a sieve lined with a couple layers of cheese cloth.

Use your refined-but-still-tropical spirit to add a little sunshine to your cocktails (and life), perhaps sharing it with a few friends. I particularly enjoy a martini made with coconut gin, though I recommend garnishing with a lime twist, rather than a lemon. (Certainly not an olive.)

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