Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Clarified Salted Paloma

The thing about minimalism is that it's all about deception.  What you think is simple is actually quite complex, and there in lies the magic.  I don't think I would ever call myself a minimalist - I like things (cough - glassware) too much - but I do like when a concept is followed through relentlessly.

Which brings me to the Clarified Salty Paloma.  I first saw this cocktail on Instagram, posted by Max Reis (@beerghost), who works at Gracias Madre in Los Angeles.  He developed this minimalist take on the Paloma and kindly shared the recipe with me, and now I share it with you.

It should be noted that this cocktail was designed to utilize day old grapefruit juice and grapefruit peels from his bar, making it even more sustainably minded and awesome.

It should be noted that clarified cocktails don't make a ton of rational sense for the home bartender - it's quite a lot of work for an aesthetically driven drink - but if you make cocktails for the internet like I do suddenly it makes sense to dive down the clarified cocktail rabbit hole.

Clarified cocktails make a whole lot more sense in today's Covid world, where bartenders and bar owners around the world are scrambling to make to-go cocktails.  The problem lies with citrus juice.  Once juiced, the flavor goes bad after 36-48 hours.  Clarification and "cordialization" are preservation techniques, thereby making the citrus ingredients shelf stable, and in turn, those bottled or canned cocktails with citrus in them have a longer shelf life.

6% Lime Acid

I also spoke with Mike Capoferri  (@mfcapoferri) of Thunderbolt in Los Angeles about how to use citric acid to balance cocktails.  He makes cordials out of lemon and lime juice to make them shelf stable, but uses a centrifuge to clarify the juice, which he then boils with sugar and citrus peels, and then balances using citric acid.  The key to citric acid is understanding that it does not impart flavor, but instead acidity.  Thunderbolt makes a house "Lime Acid" that is a blend of water, citric acid, and malic acid, which is the same one used by Reis in his grapefruit cordial recipe.

After talking with both Reis and Capoferri all I wanted to do is buy a centrifuge, but unfortunately the Spinzall is sold out.  So I turned to Dave Arnold on his technique to clarify citrus using Agar powder.  You can read his full blog post here, but this was the recipe I used:

Clarified Grapefruit Juice

400 grams Grapefruit Juice (Room Temp)
100 grams Water
1.5 grams Agar Powder
Nut Bag
Coffee Filters

Boil the water and Agar powder in a small pot on medium to high heat.  Once the agar is "hydrated" add the juice and whisk.  Place pot in an ice bath to set and let sit for a few minutes.  Gently stir the curds, and pour into a nut bag over a fine mesh sieve.  Let strain, and double strain using coffee filters (you'll need a lot of them).

Leftover Clarified Grapefruit Juice

I then mixed the clarified grapefruit juice with Thunderbolt's 6% Lime Acid (recipe below), sugar, salt, grapefruit peels to make the salted grapefruit cordial, per Reis' specs.  It should be noted that this cordial is delicious, and you'll likely want to pour it on everything.  You've been warned.

Thunderbolt LA's 6% Lime Acid
235 grams Water
10 grams Citric Acid
5 grams Malic Acid

Mix in a glass bottle until all the crystals have dissolved.

Salted Grapefruit Cordial
250 grams Clarified Grapefruit Juice
150 grams Sugar
12.1 grams Lime Acid
3 grams Salt
10 grams Grapefruit peels

Bring to a simmer over medium high heat, turn off the stove and let sit for 2-3 hours.

- OR -

Sous vide at 135 degrees for 40 minutes, and then at 145 degrees for 20 minutes (the lowest temperature to reach pasteurization).

Salted Grapefruit Cordial

And finally, we have come to the cocktail recipe!  The Clarified Salty Paloma, as created by Max Reis, modified by me.  My modifications are quite simple: I wanted the color of the cocktail to be slightly yellow/green for aesthetic reasons, and I used a grapefruitcello because that's what I could find in the liquor store.  You can try different types of grapefruit liqueurs here, depending on what you can find at your local.  I love that this cocktail builds on the mineral forward, savory flavor of a great blanco tequila like El Mayor, and the salty cordial imparts an inexplicable viscosity and complexity to what is a traditionally simple drink.  This is in fact a very rad drink.  It's complex and sophisticated, minimal and multifaceted, and without a doubt - delicious.  I realize it's a lot of work for the final product, but I have to say, it does make for a better drink.

Clarified Salted Paloma
Created by Max Reis

1-1/2 oz El Mayor Blanco Tequila
1-1/4 oz Salted Grapefruit Cordial
1/2 oz Grapefruitcello
Top with Soda Water

Build over ice in a saline solution rimmed glass, and garnish with a tiny grapefruit peel.

Note: Max wouldn't have used a garnish - because minimalism.  That said, I'm a sucker for a garnish, so here we are.

I learned a lot through this process, and I hope you do too.  If you're interested in clarifying for aesthetics or for functionality, either way, the god is in the details.  And I for one, am excited to learn a few new techniques.


This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of El Mayor Tequila.  All opinions are 100% mine.
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