No, you don’t need fancy centrifuges or other molecular mixology equipment to clarify citrus or other juices, says Todd Maul, the bar director and a partner at Café ArtScience. Although Maul has access to gizmos galore at the Cambridge, Mass., bar, where he’s known for over-the-top cocktails that channel science experiments, he says it’s possible to clarify juice at home, using little more than a coffee filter. It won’t yield exactly the same result as a centrifuge spinning 10,000 rotations a minute, he concedes, “but you’ll get close.”
So what’s the big deal about clarifying lime juice? It’s become a key ingredient for elevating Gimlets, Margaritas and Daiquiris. While some high-end bars take pride in crystal-clear clarifieds, Maul says that’s not necessarily the end-goal.
“You want to filter out the very fine residue that’s in the solution,” he says. “That’s what makes it oxidize and taste different.” A clarified juice will keep for a couple of days longer than fresh juice, adds Maul, and creates a desirably “drier, brighter” flavor for cocktails. Here’s how:
- Start with freshly squeezed lime juice (or other juice).
- Set a chinois (conical fine-mesh strainer) or other fine-mesh strainer over a bowl.
- Line the strainer with a coffee filter.
- Pour the lime juice over the coffee filter/strainer, and allow it to filter through. “This will take a couple of hours but will give you the best results for home clarification,” says Maul. The end result won’t be crystal clear, but it should be noticeably smoother and lighter, without pulp or other solids, which can be discarded.
Although some experts recommend agar to clarify juice, Maul “strongly discourages” using agar. “It has a fantastically metallic note to it,” he warns.
At Café ArtScience, Maul showcases clarified lime juice in one of his signature “liquid/solid/vapor” drinks, the WhafTiki: Appleton 12-year-old and Cockspur rums, burnt cinnamon syrup and clarified lime juice, chilled with mango and almond ice and garnished with a layer of cachaça “vapor.” But he recommends using clarified lime juice to lighten and brighten classic drinks too: “If you make a Daiquiri with it, it will blow your mind.”