Mix It Up: The Pig & Pepe at Maialino
A while back, I tasted the Benton's Bacon Old Fashioned at PDT. This tasty drink combined two of my favorite flavors—maple and bacon—using a technique called fat-washing. The basic idea is to take some rendered fat (in that particular case, the fat from super-smoky Benton's bacon), pour it into a spirit (like bourbon), let it sit for a while, then freeze to solidify the fat, scrape, and strain. The end result is a spirit that contains the subtle essence of meat. The Benton's Bacon Old Fashioned was the first I had heard of the fat-washing technique in cocktails, back in 2008 or so, although since then, it has exploded, and even Time magazine did a piece on it recently.
Taking full advantage of this trend, I took a meat and booze-loving friend out on a "meat cocktail" crawl for his birthday. In addition to the drink mentioned above, I knew that Rye House was using mezcal fat-washed with chorizo in their Creole Daiquiri and a Michelada variation, but was on the lookout for a few more locations in Manhattan—two bars is not enough for a crawl. Luckily, through the magic of Twitter, l learned of a concoction called the Pig and Pepe at Maialino. After a call to confirm its existence, we were good to go.
Maialino, known for its suckling pig, makes use of its fat for the fat-washing of the tequila (Kevin Denton, the beverage manager for the Gramercy Hotel, who created the cocktail, was practical as well as creative). The result is much more subtle than from a chorizo or bacon fat-wash, lending just a hint of porkiness, and the rim garnish brings a dash of spice into play.
Pig & Pepe
2 ounces Siempre Azul Reposado Tequila (fat-washed and sage-infused*)
3/4 ounce lime juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
chili powder & salt for rim
*Maialino uses fat from their suckling pig; you can use rendered pork fat from a non-cured/non-smoked cut of pork of your choosing. Put 2-3 tablespoons of the fat into a non-porous quart container of the tequila. Let sit at room temperature for approximately 2 hours. Freeze until fat solidifies, then strain through a coffee filter. Take a hearty bundle of sage and gently muddle in the tequila; let sit for 5 minutes, then strain. Use the final product to make the drink as follows.
Rim a rocks glass with a mix of chili powder and salt. In a shaker, mix tequila, lime juice, and simple syrup. Shake with ice and strain over fresh ice in the prepared rocks glass.