Cocktail Challenge: Schmaltz | Cocktail Challenge | Chicago Reader

Cocktail Challenge: Schmaltz 

Griffin Benko of Lone Wolf harks back to the 1860s with a goose-fat-enriched warm ale flip.

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You're Killing Me, Schmaltz

You're Killing Me, Schmaltz

Melissa Klauda

Challenged by Trenchermen bartender Jonah Frank to make a drink with schmaltz, kosher rendered poultry fat, Griffin Benko of Lone Wolf wanted to take a road less traveled—it seemed "too easy of a route" to make an infusion with the fat, he said. Moreover, while he was set on creating a seasonal beverage, standards like eggnog or the Tom & Jerry seemed a little tame for winter in Chiberia. Instead, Benko turned to what he considers an "underappreciated" classic cocktail: the warm ale flip, an egg-based drink that's been taking the chill off since the 1860s.

In keeping with his 19th-century inspiration, he sought out not the more common chicken schmaltz but goose fat, which he located at a Lincoln Park butcher shop. To counter the goose lard's unctuousness and strong, savory poultry flavor, he went to "the other side of the spectrum," using raw sugar and a Cruzan rum flavored with molasses. The ale itself "bridges the gap between the sweet and savory flavors," he said, besides adding its own "nice balance of hops and fruity yeast notes." Some freshly grated nutmeg and a whole egg, plus a yolk, round out the ingredients.

Actually preparing the flip is time consuming and can be a little tricky, for amateurs at least—Benko himself cooked at Alinea for a couple of years. The key is to drizzle in the warm ingredients slowly, to temper the mixture and avoid scrambling the egg. You also need to thoroughly emulsify the drink, whisking throughout the process, or you'll wind up with a layer of fat on top.

Schmaltz is, of course, just that: pure fat, hence less than heart healthy. What inspired the name of Benko's drink, though, is a well-known scene from the 1993 comedy The Sandlot.

You're Killing Me, Schmaltz

1 whole egg, plus one yolk
1/4 oz melted goose fat
1 oz demerara sugar
3/4 oz Cruzan Black Strap rum
8 oz Tetley's English Ale
Grated nutmeg, for garnish

Warm the ale. Meanwhile, beat the egg and yolk in a medium-size bowl. Slowly add the goose fat, whisking to emulsify, then add the sugar and rum, stirring to combine after each. Temper the mixture by pouring in the warm ale a little at a time, taking care not to scramble the eggs. Pour into a pitcher or glass, then transfer the drink to another container and back, to emulsify it further. Serve in a mug, topped with grated nutmeg.

Who's Next:

Benko has challenged John Smillie of the Violet Hour to make a drink with whey.


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