How to clarify the Jungle Bird, a Tiki Classic.
The Jungle Bird cocktail is a Tiki drink with really big bold flavors, which makes it a great candidate to be clarified with milk.
Making a cocktail clear with milk sounds kind of strange right?
Well, it is.
My Instagram buddy Connor at Shake and Stehr asked me to do a little Milk Punch style Tiki collaboration, and I’ve never clarified a Tiki cocktail before so I wanted to give it a go.
It’s done by filtering the drink through milk which curdles in the cocktail due to the level of acidity… making it sound even more strange.
But the results are delicious.
The molecules in the milk sort of “round out” the flavors which makes everything taste a bit more mild and unified. The process works really well for something like the Jungle Bird that has really intense flavors of Camapri and Jamaican rum.
How does clarifying cocktails work?
When the cocktail is poured into the milk, the acid in the lime juice reacts with the milk forcing it to curdle (the same way it does if you were making ricotta cheese).
These solid curds that form then allow the drink to be filtered, resulting in a clear and more mild version of the original drink.
As the solids build up at the bottom of the filter they create a really tightly packed layer which acts as a really fine strainer allowing the final product to be nice and clear.
The process has traditionally been used in making clear punch in large batches, but it can also work for a single serving drink.
As long as there is a decent level of acid in a cocktail you can clarify it be pouring the cocktail over the milk. The order of that step is important! Pouring the cocktail into the milk results in curds that are better for filtering after it sets, keep that in mind.
Taste vs. a classic Jungle Bird
No, it does NOT taste like milk.
You would think it might have a hint of creamy flavor, but it really isn’t even noticeable. You can also use different types of milk for the same results.
Connor used fresh goats milk and he said he couldn’t really tell.
Rather than make the drink taste like milk, the clarification process just knocks the edge off of everything and makes it taste more like one cohesive flavor. I don’t mean that in a bad way either.
If you were clarifying something that already had a mellow and singular flavor you might be really underwhelmed with the results, but not in this instance.
Ingredients for a Jungle Bird
Choosing a rum for the Jungle Bird is about the only ingredient that will give you and trouble. There are some different options that you could use but just follow one rule:
Choose a rum with big bold flavor.
The Jungle bird is created around intense flavors and you will need something that won’t be left hiding behind the intense flavors of Campari.
Here I went with the Hamilton Jamaican pot still black rum with all kinds of dark and spicy flavors. It is made using fermented molasses and it sure does taste like it.
You could also use a nice Blackstrap or Demerara rum.
Even if you aren’t a huge fan of big rum flavors don’t shy away, the milk will help mellow everything out. And if you only have more mild rum at home and are not willing to invest in a new bottle, just know that the final product might be a bit more Campari dominant.
Other than that, use fresh juices and a homemade syrup.
There are also recipes that call for cane sugar, but in the spirit of big bold flavors I suggest you stick to the Demerara.
And no matter what milk you settle on, use whole milk.
Not skim, 2%, or half and half.
It will work to a certain extent, but the curd structure will not work as well for the filtering process.
The Jungle Bird Recipe
There are a few different recipes that you could follow, but we have chosen to go with the most rum forward version, seeing as it will mellow out once it’s clarified.
The drink originated in the late 70’s at the Aviary Bar in the Kuala Lumpur Hilton.
It was never all the popular until one of this generations Tiki enthusiasts, Beachbum Berry, reproduced the original recipe that called for 4 oz. of pineapple juice.
The drink was then tinkered with to lower the pineapple to 1 1/2 oz to make it less of a fruit bomb, which is the recipe we used for a clear version.
YOU COULD ALSO SCALE THIS RECIPE
Going through the clarification process is a lot of time for only one drink, but if you are making it for friends you make make a large batch.
Simply multiply the measurements by the number of guests that you have, except for the milk. If you are making two drinks use the 3 oz of milk, but for each additional drink beyond two, only use 1 additional oz of milk. So if you make 3 drinks use 4 oz, for 4 drinks use 5 oz etc…
This is a perfect recipe to make ahead of time. Make it in the morning (or even the day before) and store it in the fridge until serving. To avoid mellowing the flavors too much I suggest you chill it down before pouring over ice.
This is a fun one to make and let me know how it works for you.
Clarified Jungle Bird Recipe
- 1 1/2 oz Jamacian Pot Still or Blackstrap Rum
- 1 1/2 oz Pineapple Juice
- 3/4 oz Campari
- 1/2 oz Demerara Syrup
- 1/2 oz Lime Juice
- 1 1/2 oz Whole Milk
- Add everything other than the milk to a glass container.
- Add the 2 oz of milk to a mixing glass.
- Pour the other mixed ingredients into the mixing glass with the milk.
- Stir gently for a few rotations.
- Let the mixture sit for half an hour and stir again, then wait another half hour.
- After the mixture has been sitting for one hour it should be visibly curdled and starting to separate itself.
- Pour the whole mixture into a strainer lined with cheese cloth, a coffee filter, or another extremely fine strainer.
- The mixture will likely come out slightly cloudy after the first filtering, so VERY SLOWLY AND CAREFULLY pour the liquid back over into the filter without disturbing the bed of curdled milk.
- After it is clarified, stir with ice and serve. If you would like it a little less diluted, put the clarified cocktail in the fridge before serving.
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How to Make a Perfect Rum and Coke
Caipirinha Recipe, the Classic Cocktail from Brazil