It’s a new year so I’m trying something new. I’ve seen a lot of action lately for clarified milk cocktails, a technique that has been around since the 1700’s but has been out of the hospitality industry’s spotlight until very recently. Milk clarifying is an interesting, science-y method of stripping the tannins, colors, and fruit particulates out of a cocktail, leaving the imbiber with a mix that is softer and ultra-clear. I followed the lead of many internet bartenders and started my milk-clarified journey with an old-school recipe from 1862, the Ruby Punch by Jerry Thomas. This batched cocktail uses black tea, port and Batavia Arrack to create a rich and uniquely spirit-forward drink. However, when clarified, it becomes a beautifully rosé-colored drink with a silky smooth funk.
The process of milk clarifying starts with mixing a cocktail as one normally would; This batched recipe uses:
2 cups brewed black tea*
1 cup Batavia Arrack
⅔ cup ruby port
⅓ cup sugar
⅓ cup lemon juice
*We used Townshend’s Lapu Mountain Suchong, a predominantly chocolate-y black tea with a light smokiness. This worked super well with the rum-like funk of the Arrack and the ruby port, though regular black tea is what the original recipe calls for and works just fine.
Once these ingredients are mixed together - without chilling or diluting the mix with ice - pour them into a large vessel with 1 cup of milk and let sit for at least two hours while curdles form. From what I’ve learned, it’s important for the curdling process that you pour the cocktail into the milk as opposed to pouring milk into the cocktail.
After it has been left to look gross for long enough, pour through a cheesecloth or coffee filter to sift out the particulates and leave you (eventually) with a gorgeously clear beverage.
Serve over ice.