Learn the Science of Clarification with these 8 Clarified Cocktails

December 04, 2023 by

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When it comes to mastering the art of clarified cocktails, the most important thing to realise is that there is a fair amount of magical science-y things involved. Clarification involves removing impurities and cloudiness from a cocktail to achieve a crystal-clear appearance without sacrificing flavour, and while it’s definitely tricky, it’s also 100% awesome.  

This transformative technique not only enhances the visual appeal of your drinks but also elevates the overall drinking experience. So, let’s dive into the world of filtration, coagulation, and sedimentation to unravel the scientific magic behind crafting perfectly clarified cocktails, shall we?  

The science & terminology of clarified cocktails

Close up of a woman's hand holding a jar of clarified cocktail mixture

Clarifying cocktails involves a unique set of terms and techniques. Here’s a list of terms commonly used in recipes for clarified cocktails and their meanings: 

Filtration. The process of passing a liquid through a filter to remove solid particles or impurities. In clarified cocktails, filtration is crucial for achieving a clear and pristine appearance. 

Clarifying agents. Substances like agar-agar, gelatine, or milk are added to cocktails to aid in the clarification process. These agents bind with impurities, making them easier to filter out. 

Gelatine. A protein derived from animal collagen; gelatine is a common clarifying agent. It helps solidify and trap impurities in the cocktail, allowing for easier removal during the filtration process. 

Agar-agar. A vegetarian alternative to gelatine, agar-agar is a seaweed-derived substance used as a clarifying agent. It sets at a higher temperature than gelatine and is popular in vegan and vegetarian cocktail preparations. 

Milk clarification. A technique that involves adding milk to a cocktail to coagulate and trap impurities. The mixture is then filtered, resulting in a clear liquid. 

Fine mesh straining. Passing a liquid through a fine mesh strainer to remove small particles or solids. This is a manual method of filtration used in the clarification process. 

Sedimentation. Allowing solid particles in a liquid to settle at the bottom over time. This natural process is often a preliminary step before filtration in cocktail clarification. 

Gravity filtration. Allowing a liquid to pass through a filter under the force of gravity. This method is often used in conjunction with other filtration techniques for cocktail clarification. 

Temperature control. Maintaining precise temperatures during the clarification process. This control influences the speed and effectiveness of clarification, ensuring optimal results.  

Mouthfeel. The tactile sensations experienced in the mouth while drinking, including the texture and smoothness of the cocktail. Clarification often contributes to a smoother mouthfeel. 

How does clarification affect cocktails?

Close up of a jug overlayed with cheesecloth with milk straining into the jug against a blue backdrop

Clarification is a game-changer in the world of mixology, influencing various aspects of a cocktail’s characteristics. This includes: 

Texture. The removal of impurities often results in a smoother and silkier texture. Clarified cocktails tend to glide over the palate, creating a more luxurious and enjoyable mouthfeel. 

Aesthetic appeal. The visual impact of a crystal-clear cocktail is undeniable. Presentation plays a crucial role in the overall drinking experience, and a clarified cocktail exudes sophistication and elegance. 

Flavour concentration. Clarification can intensify the flavours of a cocktail by removing elements that may dull the taste. This process allows the true essence of each ingredient to shine, delivering a more concentrated and refined flavour profile. 

Consistency. Achieving consistency in flavour and appearance becomes more manageable with clarification. This is particularly beneficial for bars and restaurants striving to offer a uniform and high-quality drinking experience to their patrons. 

Innovative possibilities. The clarity achieved opens avenues for creative presentations. Layered cocktails, visually stunning garnishes, and unique glassware choices are just a few ways to showcase the artistry of clarified mixology. 

1. Clarified Milk Punch

Editorial style image of two Clarified Milk Punch cocktails on a table in a light, bright minimalist home interior in shades of blue

The Clarified Milk Punch was invented by a 17th-century female spy, and is arguably one of the best clarified cocktails today. The story goes that Aphra Behn was a secret agent for King Charles II, as well as a celebrated playwright and poet. Plus, the lady loved to host a good party with plenty of theatrical eats and treats. Cue the science-forward holiday milk punch recipe that is somehow clear even though it contains milk. 

2. Piña Colada Milk Punch

Editorial style image of two Piña Colada Milk Punch cocktails on a table in a light, bright minimalist home interior in natural shades and textures

The Piña Colada is the quintessential holiday drink, and as a clarified milk cocktail it comes to the party with the same kind of tropical vibe. To make a batch that will serve 8-10 guests, add 420ml rum, 240ml coconut water, 120ml velvet falernum, 120ml pineapple juice, 90ml lime juice, and 30ml sugar syrup to a heat-safe mixing bowl.  

Over medium-low heat, heat 180ml milk in a saucepan, stirring continuously until the milk begins to bubble around the edges (taking care not to let it boil). Add the milk to the mixing bowl, stir until it begins to coagulate, and let the mixture sit for 15 minutes. Strain through a cheesecloth or coffee filter until the mixture is clarified. Ladle into cups over ice, and garnish with a cherry, pineapple slice, or both. 

3. Sex Panther

Editorial style image of two Sex Panther cocktails on a table in a light, bright minimalist home interior in natural shades with live plants as decoration

The easy-breezy Cuba Libre in milk punch form? Don’t mind if we do! To make a batch that will serve 6–8 guests, add 4 cups of cola to a sauce pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and let simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and add 0.75 cup white sugar and 1 tablespoon loose-leaf Ceylon tea. Stir until the sugar is fully dissolved, and let it cool. 

In a separate large mixing bowl, combine 1.25 cups milk with 1.25 cups lemon juice and stir. Let it sit for 15 minutes to allow the milk to curdle. Add the reduced cola mixture, along with 5 cups of rum, and half a cup of pineapple juice to the bowl with the curdled milk. 

Line a colander with a clean kitchen towel, making sure the full interior is covered, and place it over a stock pot. Pour the entire mixture over the lined colander. Keep passing the liquids through the strainer (keeping milk curds on the inside of the strainer) until the strained liquid begins to come out clear. Leave to cool, cover and store overnight, and when you’re ready serve it in tall glasses over ice, topped with soda, and garnished with a lemon twist. 

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4. Clarified Margarita

Editorial style image of two Clarified Margarita cocktails on a table in a light, bright minimalist courtyard in daytime

The best Margarita cocktail to serve drinks afficionados over the holidays? Definitely, this Clarified Margarita. Adding citric acid to drinks is a special form of alchemy. To make one of these fancy drinks, add 130ml citric solution, 20ml Grand Marnier, 15ml sugar syrup, and 45ml blanco tequila to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until frosty and strain into a chilled serving glass.  

5. Pineapple Clarified Milk Punch

Editorial style image of two Pineapple Clarified Milk Punch cocktails on a table in a light, bright minimalist courtyard in daytime

Pineapple juice cocktails are almost always guaranteed to be a hit thanks to their zesty-sweet profile, and this Pineapple Clarified Milk Punch is certainly no exception.   

To make a batch to serve up to 16 guests, add the peels of two whole lemons, 2 tablespoons of grated nutmeg, a cinnamon stick, and 2 whole star anise to a container along with the 480ml brandy and 480ml rum and let set 2 hours or up to 12 hours. Strain out the solids. Add a cup of sugar, 480ml water, 240ml lemon juice, and 240ml pineapple juice to the infused mixture and stir to dissolve the sugar. 

To a large non-reactive container (stainless steel, ceramic, glass, or metal), add 240ml milk. Now pour in the cocktail mix. Stir, and place in the fridge for a few hours, or up to 24 hours, to curdle. Do not stir. Once the whey forms a web in the container and moves to the bottom, put a cheesecloth over a container or jar with a funnel. Strain the mixture through the cheesecloth (it takes patience!). You may need to do it a few times to remove all the whey. Serve in glasses with a grating of nutmeg on top and a lemon peel as garnish. 

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6. Clarified Cucumber Cleanse

Editorial style image of two Clarified Cucumber Cleanse cocktails on a table in a light, bright minimalist courtyard in daytime

If the clean, lean Cucumber Martini hits all the right notes for you, you’re going to adore the Clarified Cucumber Cleanse. To make enough for two drinks, add 90ml bourbon, 90ml cucumber juice, 45ml sugar syrup, and 45ml lime juice to a spouted container and stir. In a separate bowl, mix 45ml each of room-temperature coconut milk and pouring cream. Now add the cocktail mix to the milk mixture. Cover and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (or up to 24 hours).  

Line a fine-mesh sieve with a coffee filter and pour through the mixture until the liquid runs clear. This process takes time, so be ready to be at it for a while. Serve the cocktail over a large ice cube with a cucumber ribbon. 

7. Earl Grey & Lemon Clarified Milk Punch

Editorial style image of two Earl Grey & Lemon Clarified Milk Punch cocktails on a table in a light, bright minimalist courtyard in daytime

If you’re all about tea cocktails at the moment, this is the drink you should make next, bestie. To make a batch to serve 4-6 people, add 1 cup steeped Earl Grey tea, 0.25 cup fresh lemon juice, 0.25 cup vodka, 0.25 cup rum, and 2 teaspoons of sugar syrup to a pitcher. Then, slowly pour in half a cup of whole milk. This will curdle.  

Use a cheesecloth to strain the mixture into a second, clean pitcher. Strain up to four times, washing the pitcher you used previously between each straining session. Serve your clarified punch over fresh ice, and garnish with a lemon peel.  

8. Clarified Holiday Eggnog Punch

Editorial style image of two Clarified Holiday Eggnog Punch cocktails on a table next to a pool in a light, bright minimalist courtyard in daytime with Christmas light decorations

Eggnog will always be a holiday classic, and this recipe takes it to a brand-new level. To make a batch that will serve 4 guests, add 160ml whiskey, 160ml rye whiskey, 30ml vanilla liqueur, 240ml pineapple juice, 120ml lemon juice, 45ml sugar syrup, and 10 dashes of bitters to a spouted container.  

Now combine 0.75 cups of eggnog (store-bought is fine) and 0.25 cups of cream in a non-reactive container and give it a stir. Pour the cocktail mix into the eggnog mix, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (and up to 24 hours). Strain through a fine-mesh strainer lined with a cocktail filter until it runs clear, and enjoy over fresh ice. 

There you have it—our top ten clarified cocktails to try at home. Sure, they are a little more finicky than a standard cocktail, but then again, you’ve been ready to level up, weren’t you? Go forth and make some magic! Also, remember to sign up for our newsletter so we can keep you inspired… 


Clarified cocktails typically have an extended shelf life compared to their non-clarified counterparts. Properly stored in airtight containers in the refrigerator, they can last for several weeks. The clarification process removes impurities that contribute to spoilage, ensuring the longevity of the cocktail without compromising flavour or quality.

Clarified juice provides a clear and visually appealing base for cocktails. The process removes pulp and solids, offering a pristine appearance. Beyond aesthetics, clarification enhances the juice's stability, reducing oxidation and extending shelf life. Additionally, the smoother texture and intensified flavours contribute to a more refined and enjoyable drinking experience.

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