posted by Dave Arnold
High alcohol fluids can’t normally be clarified with gelatin because they can’t normally be adequately frozen. A couple of years ago, the guys over at Tailor at the time (Sam Mason and Fran Derby) had the idea to freeze the gelatin laced liquor with LN; when it thawed, it clarified. Brilliant. They never demoed and took credit for the idea, so I felt uncomfortable using it, but now there is a new technique.
When I was working with spinning unfrozen agar gels in the centrifuge to clarify them, I made that technique work with liquor. I was going to post on that technique but that technique has also been superseded—in less than a month!
Simple agar clarification gets the job done.
The look is much brighter than vacuum infused strawberry gin, and I like the taste a lot more; which I didn’t think was possible.
The recipe and procedure (this recipe size is too small, you will want to triple it to increase yield):
100 grams of strawberry purée (blend strawberries, pass through a chinois)
300 grams Tanqueray Gin (47.3% abv) room temperature.
1 gram Telephone brand agar (o.25% of total weight of gin and strawberry)
Whisk the agar into cold purée the disperse the agar. Heat the purée while stirring till it comes to a rolling boil. Continue a soft boil for a couple of minutes (you can add some water to make up for evaporation) to hydrate the agar. Turn off heat and while vigorously whisking, slowly add the gin to the strawberry agar mixture. If the temperature of the mix falls below 35° C while you are mixing, you might get some pre-gelling and ruin the gel. Put the mix in a half hotel pan over an ice bath to set.
After the gel is set, break it up with a whisk.
Dump the broken gel into a cheesecloth and squeeze. Occasionally open up the cheesecloth and stir the mixture to increase flow. My yield was only 200 ml, but I lost a lot to the cheesecloth, etc. Larger batches would yield much more.
- I used a little more agar here than I normally do cause the alcohol messes with the gel a bit.
- The finished mix of strawberry and gin is about 35% abv. This is the sticking point of agar and liquor. I doubt the proof could be pushed much further north, but I’d be super-pleased to be proved wrong.
- Don’t attempt to boil the gin. The temperature will be too low to hydrate the agar plus it will certainly catch fire.
This technique can be used to clarify any low- to medium-proof spirit mix, bitters, etc.
I couldn’t really measure the proof of the finished drink because the strawberry messes with both the density and the refractive index of the product, so I can’t easily use my hydrometer or my refractometer. For the record the drink tasted fairly full strength, like the average vacuum infused gin, a little under 40 abv.
The cheesecloth should be replaced with something tougher, more even, and less absorbent—like a superbag. My feeling is that a superbag is really an overpriced paint straining bag (try www.thecarycompany.com/containers/ez-strainers.html with many different mesh sizes, or www.mcmaster.com/#95495t42/=2r0b3p which is 530 microns). Since I have never used a real superbag, someone please tell me if I am wrong