Sichuan Pepper + Sesame Oil Fat-Washed Cocktail Recipes

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Sichuan-Inspired Classic Cocktails

Look no further than these Sichuan-inspired fat-washed cocktail recipes for a new way to step up your hosting game. With a little 藤椒油 (téngjiāoyóu) rattan pepper oil and toasted sesame oil, you can use fat-washing to infuse your drinks—I’m drawing on the martini, gin fizz and Manhattan—with an unexpected savory hit rivaling the experimental chops of your favorite bar.

For home cooks and serious chefs, the intense payoff of tengjiaoyou/rattan pepper oil (a variety of green Sichuan pepper) creates a bright, citrusy, mildly electric buzz unlike any other ingredient, with no cooking required. Married to your gin of choice, the botanical flavors converge in a dazzling symphony of herbal undertones. Moreover, the oil works to round off any harsher notes in the alcohol. Roasty-toasty sesame oil neutralizes whiskey burn in this way, replacing what edginess there once was with warm, nutty richness.

Fat-washing isn’t limited to gin and whiskey. You can infuse tengjiaoyou and sesame oil into other liquors, too. These fat-washed cocktail recipes are just a couple crowd-pleasing suggestions to help get you started.

What is fat-washing?

Fat-washing is an infusing technique that temporarily combines liquid fat and alcohol, using the fat to flavor and soften the alcohol. After an overnight (and freezer) rest to separate and solidify the fat, straining leaves behind only the flavored alcohol. In some cases, particularly when using fats that are solid at room temperature (like butter or animal fats), one might want to infuse the alcohol longer, or with heat.

Almost anyone can fat-wash at home. All you need is your alcohol of choice, a fat or oil for infusing, a non-reactive resealable container for mixing and storing, freezer access, and time.

closeup aerial fat washed cocktails
Fat-washing works to round off any harsher notes in the alcohol. Roasty-toasty sesame oil neutralizes whiskey burn in this way, replacing what edginess there once was with warm, nutty richness.

On Sichuan pepper oil

藤椒 (téngjiāo), called “rattan pepper” in English, is a separate green perennial shrub relative of deciduous red 红花椒 (hónghuājiāo) and green 青花椒 (qīnghuājiāo), also known as 麻椒 (májiāo), numbing pepper. Tengjiao, honghuajiao and qinghuajiao are collectively recognized as types of huajiao, or “Sichuan pepper.” Of these, Sichuan pepper oil is generally made from green tengjiao and red huajiao. Because tengjiaoyou can be called a green Sichuan pepper oil in English, it’s often confused for oil made from the qinghuajiao green Sichuan pepper variety.

Unlike qinghuajiao, however, tengjiao is usually reserved for oil-making. It has a higher natural oiliness and full, fragrant flavor. On the scale of extremely to average “má” (the numbing half of málà), qinghuajiao is the most numbing (as you can guess from its other name), followed by red huajiao, and tengjiaoyou is least numbing of the three. Despite this, it is by no means subtle. Therefore, even those who don’t normally enjoy huajiao can tolerate tengjiao. This makes tengjiaoyou an excellent all-around finishing oil.

What is additionally noteworthy about The Mala Market‘s tengjiaoyou is its producer, Yaomazi. From our website: “Yaomazi, China’s first, largest and most trusted maker of Sichuan pepper oil, grows its own rattan pepper, harvests it at peak ripeness, puts it in cold storage just long enough to test and clean it, then extracts the oil only a few hours after it was still on the vine to ensure peak freshness and a robust, non-musty fragrance and taste.”

That all gets mixed with Sichuan’s signature first-grade, cold-pressed rapeseed oil for a product that cannot be surpassed in taste, quality or freshness.

Fat-washed cocktail recipes ft. Sichuan oils

For these fat-washed cocktail recipes, I wanted to demonstrate the versatility of toasted sesame oil and tengjiaoyou/rattan pepper oil/green Sichuan pepper oil as creative flavoring components.

  • In a dry martini, tengjiaoyou fat-washed gin commands the room. And whether you favor an olive or a little expressed lemon, you’ll find that both work in a Sichuan pepper martini. For those who take a dirty martini, additional olive brine stands up well against bold rattan pepper. Serve as a show-stopping aperitif at your next dinner party.
  • In a lighter egg white gin fizz, tengjiaoyou fat-washed gin really opens up into a bouquet of buzzy lemon. Topped off with a couple ounces of soda water, this drink is straight up refreshing. Since it’s not as stiff as a dry martini, it needs no special occasion or fancy introduction. Serve to a mixed crowd–it’s sure to be a pleaser.
  • In a Manhattan, sesame oil fat-washed whiskey gets yummy. When you leave Tennessee and stop drinking whiskey neat or on the rocks, it’s hard reacclimatizing to whiskey burn. Even in a nice scotch whisky—sorry, Benriach. With fat-washed whiskey, you don’t have to bear the burn. It’s hard to describe until you try it: After a single night of infusing, it seemed like all the sharpness in the original whiskeys vaporized. What was left: all the rich caramely, fruity, woodsy vanilla spice, plus a rounder, lusher finish. Recent whiskey converts will appreciate this, whether it be a traditional rye or bourbon Manhattan, a Scotch Rob Roy, a sugar cube Old Fashioned, or other mixed whiskey drink.

You could also, in a flash, take a leaf from Taylor’s book and float a couple drops of sesame oil atop your next margarita—as she does—or any other drink of choice! When you find an oil + liquor combination you like, you won’t regret infusing a half (or whole) bottle for future cocktail hours.

table of liquor and oils for fat washing cocktails
Fat-washed cocktail recipes, from left to right: gin fizz, dry martini, Manhattan. No need to limit yourself to gin and whiskey. You can infuse tengjiaoyou and sesame oil into other liquors, too.

For more untraditional Sichuan-inspired recipes, check out Taylor’s Sichuan Pepper Ice Cream w/ Brown Sugar Sesame Swirl and my Miso Caramel Ice Cream w/ Maple Sesame Swirl!

Sichuan Pepper + Sesame Oil Fat-Washed Cocktail Recipes

By: Kathy Yuan | The Mala Market | Inspiration & Ingredients for Sichuan Cooking

Equipment

  • 2 nonreactive resealable jars/bottles
  • cheesecloth
  • chinois or mesh strainer
  • cocktail shaker/mixing glass

Ingredients 

To Fat-Wash

  • 12 ounces gin of choice approx. 1½ cups
  • ½ ounce tengjiaoyou (green Sichuan pepper oil, Yaomazi preferred) approx. 1 tablespoon
  • 12 ounces whiskey of choice approx. 1½ cups
  • ½ ounce toasted sesame oil (Cuizi preferred) approx. 1 tablespoon

Sichuan Pepper Martini ft. Tengjiaoyou

  • 2 ounces fat-washed gin
  • ½ ounce dry vermouth
  • ice, for stirring
  • lemon peel, optional
  • olive, optional

Sichuan Pepper Gin Fizz ft. Tengjiaoyou

  • 2 ounces fat-washed gin
  • ¾ ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • ¾ ounce simple syrup ½ ounce if rich syrup
  • 1 egg white
  • ice, for shaking
  • club soda, to top
  • lemon peel, optional, for garnish

Manhattan ft. Toasted Sesame Oil

  • 2 ounces fat-washed whiskey (technically I used scotch whiskey, making mine a "Rob Roy")
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 3 dashes Angostura bitters
  • ice, for stirring
  • lemon peel or Luxardo cherry, optional, for garnish

Instructions 

Fat-Washing (at least 1 day prior)

  • Combine the gin with tengjiaoyou in one resealable jar and whiskey with sesame oil in the other. Seal. Shake vigorously to combine, oncer per hour for 2-3 hours. Chill in freezer overnight (or at least 6-8 hours hours) to separate and solidify the oils.
    The next day, when the oil has solidified, prepare a cheesecloth over a strainer or chinois. Strain out the solids and store the fat-washed liquor in a cool, dark place.

Sichuan Pepper Martini ft. Tengjiaoyou

  • Combine fat-washed gin and vermouth in a shaker or mixing glass. Fill with ice and stir at least 30 seconds, until the aromas have bloomed to your liking. Strain into chilled martini glass. Garnish with a lemon peel and/or olive, as desired. If using lemon, twist it over the poured drink to express the oil content in the peel.

Sichuan Pepper Gin Fizz ft. Tengjiaoyou

  • Combine fat-washed gin, lemon juice, simple syrup and egg white in a cocktail shaker. Dry-shake vigorously, about 15 seconds, to ensure a foamy egg white. Fill shaker with ice, then shake another 30 seconds or until chilled. Strain into chilled tall glass and top with club soda. Garnish with lemon peel as desired.

Manhattan ft. Toasted Sesame Oil

  • Combine fat-washed whiskey, sweet vermouth and bitters in a shaker or mixing glass. Fill with ice and stir 20-30 seconds, until chilled. Strain into a chilled rocks glass with or without ice. Garnish with lemon peel or Luxardo cherry as desired.

Tried this recipe?

About Kathy Yuan

Kathy is a first-gen, twenty-something daughter of two Sichuan immigrants who cooked her way back to her parents’ kitchen during the pandemic and is now helping Ma (you can call her Mala Mama) keep generational family recipes alive. All photos shot and edited by her.

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2 Comments

    1. Hi Bill, thanks for reading. Adding dried green Sichuan pepper directly to the gin can infuse some of the green Sichuan pepper qualities depending on how long you steep. It will not be the same taste or fragrance as tengjiaoyou, which is a different type of Sichuan pepper. Keep in mind you won’t get the same smooth fat-washed finish either unless you use an oil or liquid fat infusion like this recipe calls for. Feel free to experiment and do let us know how it works for you so others can give it a try!