Fat-Wash Your Tequila With Chili Oil For A Unique Spin On A Spicy Margarita

Head to a swanky cocktail bar, and you might see the unfamiliar term "fat-washed" on the menu. Fat-washing is an infusion practice that imbues strong liquors with the savory flavors of fat, whether it be butter, oil, bacon fat, or even peanut butter. Because alcohol molecules have one side that's attracted to water and one that's attracted to fat, they can bond with and enhance fat-soluble flavor compounds. All kinds of fatty ingredients can add a rich flavor and smoothness to spirits like whiskey or tequila. In particular, tequila tastes marvelous when infused with chili oil.

Chili oil can impart its smoky, spicy elements into your favorite tequila, giving an extra flavorful kick to cocktails like margaritas. The fat-washing process is simple enough that it can be done at home. To easily elevate your go-to spicy margarita recipe, simply mix chili oil (or even DIY chili crisp) with tequila that's been brought to room temperature. Allow the mixture to sit for a few hours, and then transfer it to the freezer and let it chill for at least 24 hours. 

Lastly, strain out any residual solids from the liquor using a cheesecloth or fine sieve. You'll be left with a uniquely spicy spirit that's ready to be swapped into any marg recipe, from a classic shaken version to a frozen pineapple margarita.

Fat-washing benefits beyond flavor

Fat-washing is one of the quicker ways to infuse your booze, as traditional infusion methods can take up to a week to produce a strong flavor. On the other hand, proper fat-washing can be done overnight. The process will do more than making your tequila spicy, too. The dissolved fats make for a luxurious mouthfeel that instantly elevates any spirit.

Because tequila, especially the un-aged blanco variety, is known for having a bit of a bite, it benefits wonderfully from the savory, smoothing effects of fats. The spice of chili oil adds a bit of burn back in, and also complements the natural smokiness found in these agave spirits. This added depth and complexity makes fat-washing a no-brainer for anyone looking to truly wow their guests' taste buds.

The ratio of fat to alcohol you use will depend on how strong the oil is, and how flavorful you want your booze to be. Chili oil has a much more robust flavor than milder oils like olive or avocado. A good starting point is ½ cup of oil for every 1 cup alcohol. From there, you can play chemist in the kitchen and experiment with different measurements. The shelf life of oil-washed spirits is debatable — some sources say they last a few days, and others for two weeks. Either way, store them in the fridge and sniff or taste before every use. Rancid oil is not an ideal tasting note for a spicy margarita, after all.