A Bacon Fat-Washed Old Fashioned Recipe That Is Sustainable and Decadent

Rare Society’s take on the classic bourbon drink involves dry-aged steak fat trimmings, spent citrus and other high-end kitchen leftovers

May 15, 2023 6:50 am
Rare Old Fashioned drink at Rare Society in San Diego
The Rare Old Fashioned at Rare Society in San Diego
Matt Furman

Dry-aged steak fat and bacon trimmings — just because something is lumped under the category of “kitchen waste” doesn’t mean it’s not a little indulgent. And that waste is the basis for an incredible take on an old fashioned at Rare Society, a San Diego steakhouse that applies a lot of its kitchen know-how into its cocktail menu. Witness: a spicy margarita made from wood-fired Fresno chili peppers or the abundance of spices making their way into various tipples (thyme in several tequila and pisco drinks, sage in a Scotch cocktail). Plus, according to the restaurant, several cocktails on the menu “have seen the kiss of flame.” 

The restaurant’s Rare Old Fashioned is made by fat-washing bourbon with fat trimmings from their house dry-aged steaks, accumulated using a process that takes nearly 40 days. When the bar team receives the fat, it’s rendered and incorporated into the bourbon while in a liquid state and left to sit at room temperature for at least eight hours to absorb flavor before being frozen and strained. It’s then combined with housemade rosemary oleo-saccharum and garnished with a fried lardon of house-cured bacon, a thin slice of Iberico lardo and an Amarena cherry skewered together on a smoking rosemary sprig.

Rare Society's Bar Director Colin Berger
Rare Society’s bar director Colin Berger
Matt Furman

“I was looking for a signature cocktail that fit the steakhouse mold and represented all that we do on the culinary side,” says bar manager Colin Berger (solid name for a steakhouse guy). “An old fashioned had to be that cocktail, but with our own creative flair. The goal of this cocktail is to mirror the flavors being produced in the kitchen — from the wisp of smoke coming off the smoldering rosemary to the full mouthfeel and nutty punch achieved via our dry-aged, fat-washed bourbon.”

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So, the real question: can you make this at home? Probably not to the same degree as a steak joint that has access to dry-aged steaks, but yes. “The fat washing process is relatively easy as long as you have the ingredients,” Berger says. “You can use any beef fat you may have left over. Any beef fat that has not been dry-aged will lend this cocktail a slightly different flavor profile, but it’s no less tasty or interesting.”

And it’s not just about the steak fat trimmings. Oleo-saccharum, as Berger points out, is a great way to get every last drop out of a piece of citrus and bring citrus flavor to cocktails that don’t include fresh juice. 

Anyway, if you’re feeling ambitious but can’t make it to Rare Society, we’ve broken down this decadently sustainable drink for you. And even if you don’t have access to dry-aged steak, there are lessons here on utilizing kitchen leftovers to craft delicious drinks.

The Rare Old Fashioned

Prep Time: 5 mins

Servings: 1

  • 2 oz. dry-aged bourbon*
  • 1/4 oz. oleo-saccharum**
  • 6 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Instructions
    1. Combine Angostura bitters, fat-washed bourbon and oleo in a large mixing glass.

    2. Add ice to the top and stir at least 15 revolutions.

    3. Strain over fresh ice and top with garnish***.

*Fat-Washed Bourbon: 500 ml. bourbon, 5 oz. fat from a dry-aged steak 

Pour 500 ml of bourbon into a large mason jar (be sure there is enough room for the liquified fat). Use an 86-90 proof bourbon, as anything hotter will overwhelm the flavor of your fat wash. Add fat to a medium saucepan and heat until completely rendered. Pour the fat into the jar with the bourbon and close the lid before shaking well. Allow the jar to sit out at room temperature for at least a couple of hours. Transfer to the freezer and freeze until fat solidifies at the top of the jar. 

**Oleo-saccharum: 3-4 medium-sized lemons, 3 medium-sized oranges, enough sugar in the raw to cover peels (refined sugar works just fine as well), 2 large sprigs of rosemary

Peel the citrus into a small container. It’s important that there is not a lot of extra space in the container because you want as much contact as possible with all of the ingredients. Combine the citrus peels, whole rosemary and sugar, mixing thoroughly to ensure citrus is entirely coated in sugar. You will begin to see results in as few as two hours, but they recommend letting the mixture combine for as long as your bourbon does.

***Garnish: 1 rosemary sprig, 2 maraschino cherries, 1 slice “good” bacon 

Cut bacon into one-inch squares. Fry the bacon squares in a pan until browned but still pliable. While the bacon is frying, pick the leaves off a rosemary sprig, leaving a small tuft at the top. To assemble, wrap one cherry with one square of bacon and skewer with the exposed end of the rosemary sprig.


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