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What's all the Fuss About Clarified Cocktails?

Any serious cocktail lover will have noticed the rise of clarified cocktails (sometimes called milk punch) on high end cocktail menus, New York and London are flooded with them.

They may seem like a new-fangled idea, but milk punches are recorded as early as the 1600s and gained popularity in the 1700s. Clarified drinks can be stored for long periods, which was a big advantage in the pre-refrigeration era. The Spirit-Level has been flying the clarified cocktail banner for a while, but we have found people are slightly confused by them. Hopefully, this explanation of the process and outcomes will encourage you to give them a shot.

In simple terms, clarification is the process of removing unwanted particles and impurities from mixed drinks to improve the flavour, texture and appearance. This doesn't really do justice to the magic of the clarification process.


The most popular way to clarify drinks is milk or yogurt washing. Swapping the diary products for plant alternatives does not have the same effect, but there are vegan methods using agar agar gel or heated coconut milk. I am focusing on the dairy method today.

First, mix your basic cocktail, making sure it is high acidity, so anything with lots lime or lemon juice works well. Slowly stir the cocktail into full fat milk or yogurt, and leave for a few hours or overnight. The cocktail curdles the dairy and it this point it looks pretty horrible. The next step is to filter the curdled mixture through a coffee filter or fine muslin bag, this is when the magic slowly happens. The dairy curds are left in the filter, holding onto the

particles from the cocktail and you are left with a viscous clear liquid. The whey gives the drink a surprising creamy taste and the lactose gives a gentle sweetness. Overall, the flavour of the drink you are left with, is somehow more subtle and cohesive than the one you started with.

So far, we have tried a milk washed Margarita and a yogurt washed Pina-colada, both were delicious. We are currently working on something more unusual with cucumber and dill. We will showcase this at one of our next upcoming events. If you are still not convinced, watch the brilliant ‘Drink Masters’ on Netflix, clear and delicate milk punches are the star of the show (thank you Tao).




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