Clarifying with Gelatin or Agar-Agar
You can clarify your drink by combining either substance to form a solid gel that can then be filtered. Each has their own benefits and drawbacks, but both perform reliably well in most cases. A concern for some may be that gelatin is typically derived from animals whereas agar-agar is a seaweed derivative and therefore suitable for vegan diets. When combined with hot water, both mix well with free particles and then bind to create a solid structure. Allow the mixture sit long enough for the clarifying agents to take effect. Around ten minutes. After cooling the gel can then be broken or frozen to produce crystal clear clarified drinks.
The freezing method is ideal if you have the time to allow your cocktail to sit overnight in the freezer while the gel sets. Due to the lower freeze temperature of alcohol, this is suggested for lower ABV liquids. once the liquid has set you can take it out of the freezer and let it thaw over a paper filter, producing a smooth colorless cocktail. Alternately you can mix Agar-Agar into a liquid, let it set and the whisk to disturb the particles. All you have to do then is pour the clear liquid over a filter to harvest the results.
The Easiest Method
Clarified drinks are clear and maintain a smooth texture with a pleasant taste. The flavors meld, creating a more refined drink. to clarify your own drinks, simply step down from the coarsest filter, such as muslin or similar and work towards the finer options such as coffee filters. Stepping down makes it easier to catch all the largest particles first. This method will produce a close approximation. However, it may not remove all of the colors and there will be significant fluid loss due to continuous filtering. But there are better ways to make clear drinks.
Clarified Drinks with Protein
Using proteins to clarify drinks is a centuries-old practice but the same methods can be used to achieve the same results. Trapping unwanted particles to create a cleaner, smoother cocktail is a matter of knowing which proteins to use. Common proteins include egg whites, milk and gelatin but in the 1800s the popular answer was milk. Because it was available and because preservation was very important. Using acidic components like citrus was a way of preserving liquids when refrigerating wasn't far from an option, yet. The milk was intended to also ease the harsh effects of acidic drinks on the stomach. Unfortunately, milk in acidic drinks curdles and clumps together. Not very appetizing. However, this did make the process of straining unwanted particles easier, creating delicious, clarified clear drinks. Later this same process was reproduced using egg whites with animal stock to create consomme an important ingredient in many recipes.
Back then, this process created what was known as 'milk punch' and although innovative, it has grown a lot since then, incorporating science, technology and plenty of trial and error to create a reliably clarified, delicious, crystal clear drink on demand. With a little patience and a solid understanding of how each process works you can begin creating your own clarified cocktails immediately and producing exceptional results with little to no practice. So, with that in mind, let's take a look at the process creating your own 'milk punch' at home.