Think clarified milk punch and the thought of milk and cocktails might seem like an odd combination. But this classic method of preserving drinks is far from the sugary sweet boozy mix one associates with a punch.
Down in the basement level of prohibition style bar Palmer & Co in Sydney, we’re talking clarified milk punch with Bar Manager, Sam Egerton. Much like the making of shrubs to preserve fruit was born out of the necessity, this old school method dates back nearly three centuries.
You won’t find many cocktails in Sydney bars that use this method. In fact, my experience with clarified milk punch has been limited to the odd drink but more so at national cocktail competitions I’ve attended.
Palmer & Co is renowned for its 1920s inspired cocktails and for making Prohibition style drinks using classic methods with simple ingredients. Everything from syrups to bitters with the exception of spirits is made in house. As a high volume cocktail bar, the clarified milk punch method is well suited to offer consumers a style of drink that takes effort to create but not too long to serve.
The method is fairly simple to execute as Sam explains. First you make the punch using the classic five ingredients: spirit, sweet, sour, spice and a lengthener which is usually tea or water. Add boiled milk and allow it to separate into curds and whey. Then leave it overnight to settle before passing it through a cheese cloth which catches the sediment. The result is a clear liquor which has proteins from the milk but no milk as such.
“It will age and cellar like wine,” Sam says. When it comes to the choice of milk, the higher the fat content the better, with buttermilk being the best.
The process is much like how a consommé is made, where an opaque beverage turns clear with the addition of egg whites. Here, the boiled milk causes the drink with the citrus element to curdle, and after repeated straining until it passes bright, you end up with a drink that has an element of unctuousness and complexity.
How to Make Clarified Milk Punch
- Your pre-prepared cocktail
- Dilution factor, tea or water
- Full fat milk or buttermilk
- Sterilised clear bottles with a tight seal
- Prepare your chosen cocktail based on the classic punch recipe
- Add dilution at the ratio of 20% of the volume your punch.
- Boil full cream milk or buttermilk. You need 20% of the combined volume in steps 1 and 2.
- Add the boiled milk to the punch and watch it curdle and separate.
- Let it settle overnight in the fridge.
- The next day, pass the liquid through a cheese cloth or a wet tea towel to strain the solids.
- Repeat the straining process once a day over 3 days until it is passed bright.
- Store in a sterilised clear bottle with a tight seal in the fridge. The clarified milk punch can keep up to 6 months.
In the next article, I’ll be sharing Palmer & Co’s clarified milk punch cocktail recipe for The Accidental Antidote.
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