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A5 old fashioned: Wagyu fat-washed bourbon

The essence of the richness of steak

Anthony Belcufini
Anthony Belcufini
  • Anthony Belcufini
  • Animae
  • 969 Pacific Highway
  • Downtown

“Every single night, it’s probably the top seller,” says Anthony Belcufini about Animae’s A5 Old Fashioned. “And it ties into what we do in the back of the house with our steak program.” The cocktail’s name is a nod to the Japanese A5 Wagyu fat-washed bourbon made in-house, using cuts of meat ordered for the restaurant. “We get these long, long tenderloins and strip loins — and if you’re familiar with A5 Wagyu, the big thing is the fat content and marbleization. So there’s a tremendous amount of fat, that’s what makes it so good. But when we have to trim off all the excess fat, it costs us the same amount as the steak we’re serving ourselves.

Place

Animae

969 Pacific Highway, San Diego

In order to make the cost of the A5 more approachable to a lot of our diners, we use that fat throughout the menu, including the A5 Old Fashioned.” It seemed an obvious answer to him: “committing to using all of that beef that we’re importing, but also putting a much more elevated twist on something that’s been done.”

Each week, the chefs cut off the excess fat and render it down. “And then when I make my batch of bourbon, I basically get a big ol’ stock pot, put it on an induction burner and put one or two quarts of that fat in there,” he says, estimating his cooking temp at around 140-60 degrees. “Warm enough where that fat turns into an oil, but it’s a temperature low enough where the alcohol won’t evaporate.” After infusing the bourbon for several hours, the batch is stored in the freezer, “where the cold temperature is going to bring all that liquid fat back into a solid that rises all the way to the top.” The top layer of fat is then removed the next day, “and what you’re left with is a bourbon that’s richer, a little bit nutty, buttery, super smooth — I don’t like using the word ‘beefy,’ because I think that’s off-putting,” he clarifies, “but what you do get is the essence of the richness of that steak.”

To top it off, Belcufini adds a bit of Shio Koji. “It’s almost like a rice-based salt liquid... after it’s been softened, I find that it opens up your palate a lot more.” Angostura bitters and an orange twist complete the cocktail recipe. “You get a lot of the aromatics from that. You get the strength, the punch of a nice stiff Old Fashioned, you get a lot more savory quality to it.” The fat-washing technique also produces a different mouthfeel. “I hope it’s the smoothest Old Fashioned that anybody will ever have,” he says earnestly.

The base bourbon changes depending on what they have at their disposal. “Sometimes a little scotch might make it in, sometimes a bit of rye. It’s a very consistent drink,” he maintains, “but like a snowflake, each one is just a little unique.”

Old Fashioned
  • Animae’s
  • A5 Old Fashioned
  • 2 oz. A5 Wagyu fat-washed bourbon
  • 1/4 oz. Demerera Syrup
  • 3 dashes aromatic bitters
  • Fat-wash the bourbon: cook ½ cup (roughly 100 grams) of Wagyu tallow on low heat, allowing it to melt down completely. Remove from heat and make sure the temperature is under 150°F before adding 1 bottle of whiskey. Stir periodically to incorporate the fat oil with the whiskey. Freeze mixture for 4 hours, then remove the fat that rises to the top and strain bourbon back into the bottle. Add ingredients to a mixing glass, stir and strain over a large rock into an Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with a twist of orange.
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Anthony Belcufini
Anthony Belcufini
  • Anthony Belcufini
  • Animae
  • 969 Pacific Highway
  • Downtown

“Every single night, it’s probably the top seller,” says Anthony Belcufini about Animae’s A5 Old Fashioned. “And it ties into what we do in the back of the house with our steak program.” The cocktail’s name is a nod to the Japanese A5 Wagyu fat-washed bourbon made in-house, using cuts of meat ordered for the restaurant. “We get these long, long tenderloins and strip loins — and if you’re familiar with A5 Wagyu, the big thing is the fat content and marbleization. So there’s a tremendous amount of fat, that’s what makes it so good. But when we have to trim off all the excess fat, it costs us the same amount as the steak we’re serving ourselves.

Place

Animae

969 Pacific Highway, San Diego

In order to make the cost of the A5 more approachable to a lot of our diners, we use that fat throughout the menu, including the A5 Old Fashioned.” It seemed an obvious answer to him: “committing to using all of that beef that we’re importing, but also putting a much more elevated twist on something that’s been done.”

Each week, the chefs cut off the excess fat and render it down. “And then when I make my batch of bourbon, I basically get a big ol’ stock pot, put it on an induction burner and put one or two quarts of that fat in there,” he says, estimating his cooking temp at around 140-60 degrees. “Warm enough where that fat turns into an oil, but it’s a temperature low enough where the alcohol won’t evaporate.” After infusing the bourbon for several hours, the batch is stored in the freezer, “where the cold temperature is going to bring all that liquid fat back into a solid that rises all the way to the top.” The top layer of fat is then removed the next day, “and what you’re left with is a bourbon that’s richer, a little bit nutty, buttery, super smooth — I don’t like using the word ‘beefy,’ because I think that’s off-putting,” he clarifies, “but what you do get is the essence of the richness of that steak.”

To top it off, Belcufini adds a bit of Shio Koji. “It’s almost like a rice-based salt liquid... after it’s been softened, I find that it opens up your palate a lot more.” Angostura bitters and an orange twist complete the cocktail recipe. “You get a lot of the aromatics from that. You get the strength, the punch of a nice stiff Old Fashioned, you get a lot more savory quality to it.” The fat-washing technique also produces a different mouthfeel. “I hope it’s the smoothest Old Fashioned that anybody will ever have,” he says earnestly.

The base bourbon changes depending on what they have at their disposal. “Sometimes a little scotch might make it in, sometimes a bit of rye. It’s a very consistent drink,” he maintains, “but like a snowflake, each one is just a little unique.”

Old Fashioned
  • Animae’s
  • A5 Old Fashioned
  • 2 oz. A5 Wagyu fat-washed bourbon
  • 1/4 oz. Demerera Syrup
  • 3 dashes aromatic bitters
  • Fat-wash the bourbon: cook ½ cup (roughly 100 grams) of Wagyu tallow on low heat, allowing it to melt down completely. Remove from heat and make sure the temperature is under 150°F before adding 1 bottle of whiskey. Stir periodically to incorporate the fat oil with the whiskey. Freeze mixture for 4 hours, then remove the fat that rises to the top and strain bourbon back into the bottle. Add ingredients to a mixing glass, stir and strain over a large rock into an Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with a twist of orange.
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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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