Your Fall Brunch Cocktail Calls for Meat

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The Nebuchadnezzar: a lamb fat washed bourbon cocktail from Bavel in Los Angeles.
The Nebuchadnezzar: a lamb fat washed bourbon cocktail from Bavel in Los Angeles.
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Brunch: the only meal of the week where you’re not only allowed, but encouraged to drink alcohol with a plate of pancakes. The decadent dining phenomenon of brunch deserves a cocktail or two, whether you need some hair of the dog to quell a hangover or want to kick off the weekend right. And a bellini or mimosa will always suffice, something more meaty is a better idea. Not meaty figuratively, we’re talking literally.

Adding meat, either in the form of a fat-washed spirit or straight up bone broth, to your cocktail is the ultimate brunch move. “There are so many flavors inherent in booze. Except, in most cases, for meaty, savory flavors. Doing a bacon or foie gras fat wash can add a meaty richness you simply wouldn’t get with spirit and mixer alone,” says Hacking Whiskey author Aaron Goldfarb. “Plus, it’s really fun to tell any friends that come over, ‘”Hey, wanna try my pork belly bourbon?!’”

Here are a couple ways to get your meaty brunch drink on at home.

The Bloody Mary Au Jus

A Bloody Mary is a brunch cocktail classic. While there’s nothing missing from it, the Bloody Mary only gets better with the addition of meat. “The beef jus adds a lot of texture and richness to the Mary, considering how concentrated our jus is,” says Dave Purcell, bar manager of the NoMad Hotel Los Angeles. “There are a lot of savory vegetal notes from the mirepoix and really toned fattiness from the bones that stew. We boil down the stock to a near gelatinous texture so it is very present in the overall profile of the Bloody Mary itself even though we don’t use very much.”

Purcell warns against using canned jus or bullion cubes for your jus, and emphasizes finding a great recipe for your Bloody Mary mix. “I’d recommend taking beef stock and simmering vegetables and other ingredients, ultimately reducing the entire thing by half,” says Purcell. “Then making sure you have a good Bloody Mary recipe, add in small increments (of the jus) until you have the right profile, then add your spirit. Since this is adding such a full flavor, try a variety of spirits as well—aquavit, bourbon, and mezcal can stand up to the texture in different ways. Have fun with it.”

The NoMad Bloody Bull:

1/2 oz. Jus
2 oz. Vodka or Gin (or white whiskey—this is a Bourbon publication, after all.)
5 1/2 oz. Bloody Mary Mix
Roll the cocktail. Pour into a highball glass with ice. Garnish with a pickle skewer.

Fat Wash Your Brunch Cocktail

Fat washing can be a simple way to add another layer of flavor and texture to a drink. If you’re going the fat washed route, Aaron Goldfarb has some tips for you. Remember that the biggest key is patience and precision. “Fully render the fat before integrating it into the booze. Fully let that concoction freeze (probably overnight) so the fat will completely gather at the top. Then, most importantly, carefully and patiently filter the fat from the booze so no little globules are left behind,” he says.

Not following directions is where most people go wrong. “If you’re really deliberate in all these steps, fat-washing is pretty easy,” says Goldfarb. “The problem is, most of us today do not want to spend hours if not days infusing some booze!” When it comes to what spirits to use, Goldfarb recommends bourbon, and the higher the proof the better (usually). “You’re going to naturally lose a percentage of your whiskey during the process so I probably wouldn’t use, like, Yamazaki 18 or George T. Stagg unless you’re a total baller or really want to troll your Instagram followers with how profligate you can be.”

At Bavel in Los Angeles’ Arts District, bar director Ricky Yarnall makes a lamb fat washed bourbon cocktail: the Nebuchadnezzar. The lamb isn’t overpowering, it’s a textural accent. “I wouldn’t say the Nebuchadnezzar is exactly meaty as it does not really taste meaty. The fat is really just there for the texture.” Yarnall wants the viewers at home to heed safety basics when fat washing. “The fat should be rendered and clean before using it, and food safety guidelines should be followed when handling the fat as well as the bourbon once the fat has been strained out,” he says. “The liquor will not preserve the fat from spoiling if left out and not properly stored.”

Bavel’s Nebuchadnezzar

1 oz. lamb fat washed Wild Turkey 81 Bourbon
1 oz. Clear Creek Blue Plum Brandy
1/4 oz. 1:1 simple syrup
3 dash Amargo-Vallet Angostura
Stir with smoked ice. Strain over a big rock in Double Old Fashioned glass. Grapefruit peel garnish