Clarified Cocktails & Preservation
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 or clarified milk punch 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!
THE SCIENCE BEHIND MILK CLARIFICATION
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 thick 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!
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GET THE RECIPE FOR OTHER CLARIFIED COCKTAILS
Fruity Pebbles Clarified Punch
Cranberry Spiced Clarified CocktailPrint
Pineapple Clarified Milk Punch
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Total Time: 24 hours
- Yield: 16 1x
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 by volume
- 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.
Keywords: clarified cocktail, milk clarification
Love this so much! I had a post about this very topic earlier in the year too with another rendition of pineapple milk punch and some science-y bits–you’ll have to check it out! Right up your alley 😉 xo
We’re getting hit with a blast of wintery weather here in western Canada, but this cocktail would be the perfect mix of comfort and tropical, reminding people that it is still technically summer. Love it, thanks for the consistent cocktail inspiration!
after you pour the cocktail into the milk and stir, the instructions say: Let set for a few hours to let the milk curdle. Set for a few hours on the counter or in the fridge? Also, how many hours? 2? 3? 4? What do you do?
Great question! It will depend on the acidity of the cocktail. I would say minimum of 2 hours up to 24 hours. It should set in the fridge!
Could you make an oleo sacrum with the lemon while the liquor is steeping with the spices and combine later?
I don’t see why that wouldn’t work! Love a good oleo. The extraction of oils from the lemon peels will be different with an oleo vs. stepping them in the liquor, so adjust the amount of amount of lemon peels to account for this!
Before I go anise-crazy, is it two hole anise stars or just two sections? Thanks!!!
Haha two whole anise stars! It ends up being a right amount with all of the other ingredients.
Nice post! What rocks glasses are those?!
Thank you! They are Williams Sonoma Open Kitchen, but I do not think they make them anymore more unfortunately.
Thank you! The glasses are from Williams Sonoma, but I do not think they carry them anymore unfortunately.
Did the coffee work? I’m guessing no, because we add milk/cream to coffee all the time and it doesn’t curdle. Probably the pH is not low enough the article you referenced said pH needs to be below 4.6. But I am interested in a coffee cocktail that is clarified, so I would be interested to see if you found something that worked.
I am currently testing one and the acidity from the coffee was not enough to curdle. I did add orange juice ( I love coffee and orange together!) and that worked. Also, there are other means of clarifying like using agar agar which I am trying next!
Is the sugar 16 oz by weight or by volume? I’m assuming by volume.
yes by volume! not 1 lb of sugar!
Hi. Would taste change If i put the coconut water instead of regular water ? Because im looking for something like pina colada flavor ! Thanks.
oh love that idea! You could definitely use coconut water in place of the regular water.
Hi! How long can it be in fridge before being unable to drink? Cheers!
This is the third clarified milk punch recipe i have tried and it’s the best so far. It has a beautiful flavour. Thanks
What kind of rum did you use?
oh Aeropress, what a great idea! I will have to try that for filtering sometime.
This looks so good! Do you have any recommendations on brandy/rum brands? Or even changing it to tequila and green chartruese?
Love your thoughts about using Green Chartreuse, goes so well with pineapple as does tequila. For the brandy brands I enjoy: Argonaut brandy Copper & Kings from the US, but there are so many great cognac brands that I also love.
Really tasty, if you have one an aeropress is great for the second filtration. Makes it very clear and incredibly quick.
Somehow I am only just learning about milk punch today! I came across your recipe and I can’t wait to try it. Did you use a white or a dark rum in this? Thanks!
Hi Nicole so glad you found the recipe! I used neither technically, I used and aged Jamaican rum! You could see this as a “dark rum” as the color has not been filtered out like a white rum, but it typically has a more prominent flavor and fuller bodied then what you find with rum labeled as dark rum.
I’m curious if you’ve you tried to make a simple cheese from the curds?
Hi Jason, I have not attempted this. I don’t think the curds would make for a great cheese with the boozy and fruit infringements flavoring the curd, but I could be wrong! If you do try, definitely report back on how it went!
This punch was delicious and easy to make. I misjudged how much cognac I had remaining, so I substituted about half of the brandy with Pierre Ferrand curacao, and though I haven’t tasted the original, what I got was great. Would I be correct in assuming the ABV of this punch is around 20%, assuming you are using 80 proof spirits? I don’t know how much of the liquid milk remains, nor how much the volume of sugar affects the total volume of the drink.
Hey! Are you using dark, gold, or light rum? Any recommendations on rhum choices?
Looking forward to trying this!
I used neither technically! I used and aged Jamaican rum, specifically Appleton signature! You could see this as a “dark rum” as the color has not been filtered out like a white rum, but it typically has a more prominent flavor and fuller bodied then what you find with rum labeled as dark rum.
If I wanted to make a strawberry cheesecake version do you have any suggestions?
Great question, and YUM! I would omit the cereal and fat-wash the spirits with cream cheese before clarifying. Hope that helps!
Would I be able to use a pre made simple syrup. I have two homemade syrups. I simple 1:1 granulated sugar and a simple 1:1 Demerara. I recently used the Demerara for a clarified piña colada and it tasted a bit richer.
Hey you definitely can! It will add more water content to the drink vs just using sugar so you made need to adjust some things. I wouldn’t use the same amount of sugar and simple syrup so it will take some tweaking.
I’m a bar manager in Pensacola, I made this last week and it was a huge hit! I started it on Tuesday and finished it by Saturday night. The straining took the longest but I used a lot of containers to make the straining process go quicker. I used a cheese cloth and then a coffee filter. I filtered it with the cheese cloth about 3 times and only 1 time with the coffee filter. It was amazing. I’m making another batch right now!
This made my week hearing this! I love that you made this at your bar and your customers enjoyed it. I’m refining the straining process myself, cheesecloth and then coffee filter is the way to go!
I made a half batch of this over the last two days to be served on Christmas. The straining took an eternity (literally several hours and dozens of passes through coffee filters to get it clearish), but the color, taste, and mouthfeel of the resultant punch is transcendent!
Any tips on expediting the straining process?
Thank you very much for the recipe. This is incredible.
So glad you made the clarified punch and loved it! Clarifying is such a fun technique to add flavor and texture.
I am working on a more efficient way to strain myself! I’m thinking cheese cloth to get large particles and majority of clarification done then a pass through, then a pass through the coffee filter would be better.