If asked my favorite way to have my drinks it would be silky and crystal, crystal clear. To get crystal clear drink does not require magic, but rather a little science and milk, yup milk! You may have noticed the frequency of the term clarified on cocktail menus around the world the past couple years, but this fancy techniques has been around for centuries dating back to colonial times. Even Benjamin Franklin used to fuck with clarified punches, he knew what was up. Rather then being a way to wow patrons with a clear drink as bartenders do today, they had used it for preserving drinks, especially with citrus well into cold months. Preservation was key when fridges where not even a blip on their radars. The clarified punches can keep for months after undergoing the process. Clarified cocktails beyond being clear have a lovely mouth feel as a result, all the flavors have married into one unifying sip. Because of it’s show stopping and curious process, clarifying cocktails has seen a booming resurgence among bartenders and cocktail enthusiast crowd. Take a peek on the menus at your local craft cocktail watering whole next time and you may spy a clarified cocktail or two!
Soooo, what exactly happens to make the cocktails clear? Clarification with milk simply happens by using acid (such as citrus) to curdle the milk. During the curdling process, the milk proteins will latch onto things such as tannins leaving behind all of the good stuff that gives the drink a round silky mouth feel with out any harsh overpowering components. The milk lends a slightly sweet flavor, but with out the heavy creaminess. Any cocktail that has an acidic component like citrus (I’m trying coffee next!) and milk can be clarified. I used whole milk as has been suggested to be the best, but other things like goat milk and possible high protein almond milk can do to the trick. There are quite a few clarified cocktail recipes floating around with things like teas, coconut, and even cereal milk. My ever present inner child approves of the last one. I am already hooked after making this Pineapple Spice Clarified Milk Punch and dreaming up new cocktails to try this method with. What shall I clarify next?
If you are looking for a way more in-depth and science focused explanation for the milk clarification, this article by Alcademics is fantastic and will be your guide. My post is a little more digestible for those intimidated by the process. Plus a recipe for a clarified punch as your consolation prize for reading this post. You are most welcome 😉
makes 16 servings
tools: two large non-reactive pitchers or containers, Chemex or large container, coffee filter and cheesecloth
glassware: rocks glass
- 16 oz brandy
- 16 oz rum
- peels of four lemons
- 2 nutmeg, chopped
- 2 cinnamon sticks, chopped
- 2 whole Star anise, chopped
- 8 oz lemon juice
- 8 oz pineapple juice
- 16 oz sugar
- 16 oz water
- 8 oz milk
- garnish: grate nutmeg, lemon peel
- Peel lemons and chop spices. Add the peels of lemons, nutmeg, cinnamon stick and star anise to a container along with the brandy and rum and let set 2 hours or up to 12 hours preferably. Strain out the solids. Add sugar, water, lemon juice and pineapple juice to the infused booze mixture and stir to dissolve the sugar.
- In a non-reactive container, add the cold milk. Slowly pour in the cocktail into the milk. Stir. Let set for a few hours in the fridge to let the milk do its thing (a.k.a. curdle) do not stir. When the whey has formed into a “web” in the container and settle to the bottom, it’s time to strain. You can leave it for up to 24 hours.
- Put a cheese cloth over a container or jar with a funnel. I used a Chemex coffee maker. Slowly strain into the cheesecloth. It will take a bit to fully strain. Strain again but this time use the coffee filter in a funnel over another container. The cheese cloth catches the bigger clumps of whey, but lets some smaller whey through. The coffee filter catches the rest, but wont get clogged with the thicker whey, which can take hours to strain!*
- Et viola! there you have it a clear milk punch that will last for months in the fridge!
- To serve: Pour into a glass with a large cube, preferably clear ice to show off all your hard work clarifying, grate of nutmeg on top with a lemon peel and optional pineapple leaf for flair!
*you can use just a coffee filter for straining, but this will take hours. If you have the time and want to save a step, use the coffee filter only for the first strain instead of the cheesecloth.