If you have worked in the bar industry for a few years, you know cocktail trends come and go as fast as a politician’s position on just about anything. The same thing cannot be said about clarified cocktails which appear to have long lasting staying power.

What Is a Clarified Cocktail?

A clarified cocktail is a clear, aromatic and well balanced drink. The bartender will remove any solid components listed in the recipe, leaving the liquid clear. For mixed drinks served at a bar, clarification unfolds in a much different manner. Scott Stroemer, who works as the Head Bartender/Chief Mixologist at Pacific Standard time in the River North neighbourhood of Chicago, said his clarified rum punch best defines the meaning of a clarified cocktail. The popular drink “looks unassuming, but it is packed with flavours that deliver the perfect balance of spice, sweet, citrus, and bitter.”

The Reasons Behind Clarified Cocktails

The reasons for clarifying cocktails start with the flavour profile of a drink. You want a clarified cocktail to go down smoothly, without adding any extra taste sensations that are normally introduced by mixers. The second reason behind clarification is called balance. As with wine, the main objectives of clarified cocktails is to achieve flavour and aroma harmony. Straining all of the solids from a mixed drink also delivers a longer lasting cocktail. This is important for mixed drinks that are made in large batches. Appearance is another reason bartenders clarify cocktails.

Here are some examples of clarified cocktails:

  • Milk Punch
  • Rum Punch
  • Bloody Mary
  • Pina Colada
  • Shaken Daiquiri

Popular Clarification Processes

What cocktail clarification processes are the most effective at achieving flavour balance, while delivering a powerfully tasty sensation to the taste buds. We like three cocktail clarification processes.

Gelatin Vs. Agar-agar Clarification

Considered one of the most effective clarification methods, introducing gelatin or agar-agar into a mixed drink traps all of the solids in the mixer, as well as any solids left over from the alcohol after the distillation process. Although gelatin and agar-agar are often considered the same thing, the fact is gelatin is a collagen, while agar-agar is acquired from algae. Agar-agar is better at gelling, which makes it ideal for cocktail clarification.

Whether it’s gelatin or Agar-Agar, you have two methods for clarification. Freeze and thaw blends the clarifier of choice into the cocktail. The quick gel method is similar to the method used to clarify lime juice that is mentioned below.

Protein Clarification

Milk and egg whites possess the same capability to trap unwanted particles in cocktails that gelatin and Agar-Agar possess. One of the prime examples of the power of dairy in called the Milk Punch. Milk added to an acidic cocktail will separate particles from the cocktail by curdling and coagulating the particles. Egg whites, which have been used by chefs for centuries to clarify stocks, are effective in removing particles from cocktails as well.

Simple Filtration

By using a sieve or a muslin cloth, you can simply filter a drink to yield a clarified cocktail. It is a good idea to start with a filter with wider openings and continue to filter the cocktail until the last filter used is very fine in composition. Remember this method should be the third option for clarifying cocktails, as it does not ensure a crystal clear appearance.

Clarifying Juices

fresh lime

When it comes to mixing with alcohol, juice is the king of the cocktail world. A Margarita is nothing without a fresh squeezed lime. Making a Whiskey Sour without fresh squeezed lemon juice is an insult to aficionados of the classic mixed drink.

One of the keys to making a superior clarified cocktail involves clarifying juices. Here is the recipe for clarifying one of the most important bar juices:

Clarified Lime Juice

  • Juice from 8 limes
  • Agar Powder
  • Water
  • Cheesecloth
  • Ice water bath
  • Instant-read thermometer
  1. The first step for making clarified lime juice involves ensuring the fresh squeezed lime juice is strained at room temperature to eliminate pulp.
  2. For every 750 millilitre of lime juice poured, measure out 250 millilitres of water and place both liquids to the side. Measure out the Agar at two per cent of the entire volume of clarified lime juice you plan to make. For 300 millilitres of lime juice and 100 millilitres of water, you would need eight grams of Agar.
  3. While whisking, add the Agar to the water set by the side. Do not add the lime juice at this time. Make sure to whisk thoroughly so the agar completely dissolves in the water. Then, bring the Agar and Water mixture to a boil over a high heat source. You have to stir the mixture constantly the instant the liquid reaches the boiling point. Give the mixture about five minutes to boil, before taking it off the stove and covering it to prevent boiling the liquid too much.
  4. It is important that you whisk the strained lime juice into the Agar/water mixture, and not the other way around. Wait until the batch of the mixture cools to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, place the mixture into the ice water bath and wait for it to become a gel-like substance.
  5. Lightly break the gel up by using the same whisk. When the gel breaks into pieces that appear like curds, pour the mixture through a cheesecloth and squeeze the gel lightly to extract liquid for pouring into a container.

Use the clarified lime juice in every cocktail that calls for lime juice!