The process of clarifying drinks may sound like a new trend or like another innovation from modern mixologists to make cocktail making yet more complicated but it’s not. Some writing track clarified punch recipes from as far as the early 18th century. Even Benjamin Franklin had a recipe of his own. While some say that clarifying a punch with milk was to make it easier to digest, we can say for sure that such process changes massively the flavours of said punch. The acidity from the citrus and strength of alcohol become smoother while the mouthfeel gets pleasantly silky.
So how does it work? Easy as pie! Let’s start with the basics. A punch by definition is a blend of alcohol, citrus, sugar, spices and water. So if you had milk to the equation, because of the citrus and alcohol, it will curdle. At this point, I prefer to warn you. When curdling, the mixture is far from being appealing. It looks like a big mess you would never drink. But when filtered, you get the curdles packed with unwanted harshness on one side and you are left with a clarified punch on the other. This delicious elixir is now ready to be stored in your fridge and will keep almost indefinitely. But I’m telling you, it is so good it won’t last long!
Regarding recipes, you can try with any cocktail you like, as long as there is a citrus and booze in it. In my opinion though, it’s better when you start with a blend a little less acidic but bolder and spicier than how you would usually drink your cocktails. The result will be more satisfying.
Regarding the technique, you can find many different opinions online. I’ve tried a lot of them and if you follow my lead, regardless of some contradictions you may find, you will succeed for sure.
Clarified milk punch recipe
- 18 oz Infused Cachaça *
- 6 oz Martini Bianco
- 4 oz Genepi Don Gabet
- 2 oz OFTD Plantation rum
- 4,5 oz Fresh lime juice
- 4,5 oz Blood orange juice rectified at a ph of 3 with lactart.
- 3 oz Gomme syrup
- 4 oz Simple syrup
- 350 ml Whole milk
- 350 ml Coconut milk
*Infused Cachaça recipe
- 26 oz Leblond Cachaça
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 vanilla pod split in two
- 10 cracked green cardamom pods
- 8 cracked black cardamom pods
- 4 tsp coriander seeds
- 3 tsp mace
- 3 tsp dried galangal
- 2 tbsp dried curry leaves
- Zest of one blood orange
- Zest of one lime
- In a large vessel, infuse the Cachaça with the spices and citrus zest for 6 hours
- Strain the Cachaça
- Add all the other ingredients except for the milk and coconut milk and stir.
- In a bowl, pour the milk and coconut milk. Doesn’t have to be hot. I do mine using milk straight out of the fridge.
- Slowly pour the punch over the milk and coconut milk mix (It’s important that you pour the punch over the milk and not the opposite. That way every single drop of the punch will get in contact with uncurdled milk).
- At this point, I always stir the mixture gently.
- Now let it sit for one hour at room temperature then cover it and let it sit overnight in the fridge.
- Using a coffee filter placed in a funnel, strain the punch to separate the liquid from the solids.
- If you’re not satisfied with the clarity of the liquid, just pour it over the curdles again to filter it a second time. Going through the curdles will enhance the clarification process and will help to get a crystal clear punch.
Now go wild and try any recipe you like. One little tip to remember when playing with milk clarification is to use about ¼ of the total volume of your punch in milk. That is a good ratio and should work with every recipe. You can even try to filter it “à la minute” if you don’t want to make a whole batch ahead. Make your favourite Tiki cocktail with no dilution. If the cocktail is 4 oz total, pour 1 oz of milk in a mixing glass (1/4 oz the volume) and then pour your punch over it. Stir gently and pour it immediately into a coffee filter placed in a funnel to filter. Since you haven’t let the cocktail curdle for a long time, you will get a cloudy liquid out of the first filtration. Just pour it over the dirty coffee filter full of the first curdles. Through that second filtration you will get a perfect clear punch “à la minute” Cheers!
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