Drinks

Rinse Cycle

To make a better cocktail, flavor the glass
A miniature spray bottle evenly coats the glass with rinsing agent
Rinsed Cocktails Momofuku NYC Press Napa Valley One Chapel Hill Merchant Madison Wisconsin

Want to elevate your cocktail making game?

Start by flavoring the glass.

A simple swirl of booze before the drink goes in adds a subtle layer of flavor. The rinse, as it's known, is a favorite technique of bartenders who are deploying subtle hints of everything from wine and brandies to vinegar and, yes, duck fat.

"The rinse imparts a certain amount of flavor from what can otherwise be an overpowering ingredient," says Spencer Weiss of Napa Valley's Press restaurant. He spikes a coupe glass with a bit of Oloroso sherry, preceding a maple-laced blend of bourbon and Cynar (see the recipe).

At [ONE] restaurant in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, the Levitating Monk gets some of its lift from a spritz of red verjus. "It's a nice way to add acidity without using citrus," chef Kim Floresca says of the inspired combination of rum and tawny port (see the recipe).


Fat-washed spirits have been a thing for a while, so it was probably inevitable that someone would put the fat straight in the glass. That someone is Samuel Gauthier of restaurant-bar-liquor store Merchant in Madison, Wisconsin. His Montezuma Wins at Duck Hunt is a velvety thing involving mezcal, whisky, pineapple shrub and an enriching splash of duck fat.

If you're not quite ready for fat rinses, even the simplest drinks can benefit from a touch of something in the glass. Jordan Salcito, wine director at Momofuku, uses rinses with wine and beer. At Ko, a sake-rinsed glass tames the sweetness of Moscato, while a raspberry eau-de-vie serves as a base for Belgian Lambics.

"It brings the flavors into focus," Salcito explains. "Sometimes, the two together are greater than the sum of their parts."

Press 587 St. Helena Hwy St. Helena CA 94574 707-967-0550 [ONE] 100 Meadowmont Village Cir. Chapel Hill NC 27517 919-537-8207 Merchant 121 S. Pinckney St. Madison WI 53703 608-259-9799 Momofuku Ko 163 First Ave. New York NY 10003 212-500-0831

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