How to: Drink Masters Edition

So if you watched Drink Masters on Netflix, there were probably a whole lot of techniques they used that seem hard and intimidating. Look, if you’re a home bartender, the stuff they did on that show may be too much for you to start with, but if you have been making the same Manhattan and Margarita for the last year and are looking for something a little more challenging, there are plenty of mixology techniques to learn from Drink Masters.

At HBIC, we have collectively worked for decades in craft cocktails, so we have used these techniques before, and they really aren’t as hard as the show depicted. After all, you are not racing against the clock, and you don’t have to compare yourself to Suzu.

Let’s talk about a few things they did on the show and how you can recreate them at home. Maybe you can impress yourself and even some of your friends. Just listen to Frankie Solarik, and stay away from drinking dry ice.

Milk Punch

Milk punch seemed to be the most popular type of drink the mixologists on the show seemed to make. To the point where Kate Gerwin even made fun of it, asking why doesn’t everyone just make milk punches if that’s all that’s going to win. Well, they won because of how good milk punches are.

Most notable cocktails come from the pre-prohibition or prohibition era. Milk punches have a much longer history in this country, Dating back to the 1700s. Even Ben Franklin was known for his love of milk tea punches. This may be one of the easier things from that show to make, so let’s get into it.

So for this recipe, you’re going to need milk (duh), lemon juice, tea bags, sugar, and a spirit of your choice. For this punch, you’ll want to stay close to something close to this ratio:

  • 1 ½ cup spirit (I like to do ¾ cup high-proof spirit and ¾ cup sherry)
  • 2 cups tea (the steeped water, not 2 cups of dry tea leaves, yes I need to specify, some people need their hand held)
  • ⅓ cup sugar (granulated is fine, it’ll dissolve, I’ll go into that later)
  • ⅓ cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup whole milk

So you’re going to want to combine all ingredients (except the milk) into a pitcher or something that you can easily pour out of, and the milk in a separate large bowl. Mix the mixture until most, if not all, of the sugar is dissolved.

Slowly pour the mixture into the milk and whisk lightly. You’ll start to notice the milk curdle and form curds. Scoop out the big curds and then cover the rest, and let sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes but up to a day. The longer the flavors have to incorporate, the better.

Have a drink or something, fall asleep drunk, wake up hungover, and grab your gross-looking concoction. Grab a large fine mesh strainer. If you don’t have one, be creative, you know, like the contestants had to do in that one episode. You know the one. Anyway, grab your fine mesh strainer or whatever and lay a cheesecloth over it.

Send the mixture through the cheesecloth/strainer a couple of times. No need to change out the cheesecloth each time as the curds will act as a secondary… tertiary?… third strainer. After this step, the liquid will probably still be a little cloudy, but shouldn’t have any more cheese chunks.

Finally, send it through a coffee strainer, and boom. You should have a clear-looking milk punch. Now, the mixology bit of this drink is you got rid of all the curds, but you kept the whey proteins in the cocktail, so you should have a full-bodied, rich-tasting cocktail. Science.

God, this whole article became a how-to guide on milk punches, kind of like Drink Masters! Watch out, Netflix, here we come.

Spherification

One of the challenges of this competition show was to make gel-encased spheres. Something that is truly technique-driven but not something that should intimidate you. Especially when you don’t have to worry about time restraints or the Drink Masters judges.

So the only things you’ll need to get that you probably don’t have is Sodium Alginate and Calcium Lactate Gluconate. You can buy those here. Oh, wait, you’re also going to need a digital scale that weighs to the tenth of a gram. If you don’t have one, ask your sketchy neighbor.

First, blend together the Sodium Alginate with distilled or filtered water. It’s important that there is no calcium in your water. Grab your neighbor’s digital scale; brush off any white dust and set the scale to grams (ALWAYS WEIGH USING GRAMS). It doesn’t really matter how much you make as long as the Sodium Alginate is .5% of the volume of the water. So multiply the volume of the water by .005, and that’ll be how much Sodium Alginate you’ll need. Math sucks, I know.

Add the water and the sodium alginate into a blender and let that baby rip. Blend for a few minutes and pour out. Let that mixture sit until the bubbles are gone, and it’s clear (this may take a day).

Next, measure out your cocktail. Let’s say it measures 200 g. You’re going to then add 2-3% of the volume of the liquid of Calcium Lactate Gluconate, which will end up being 4-6 grams. Blend it up and let sit, preferably in the freezer.

In the morning, pipe out the cocktail mixture into the clear water/sodium alginate mixture, and there you go. Your very own boozy tide pod.

What’s next?

Those are only two of the interesting things the contestants did on Drink Masters. I know, there is a ton of stuff they did that I didn’t cover here, but I promise we will go into it at HBIC.

If you want to learn from a bartender who’s done this before, or you want to learn the basics, we have a number of great mixologists at Head Bartender in Charge who are excited to teach you whatever it is you want to learn and who knows, maybe next time you’ll be the ultimate drink master. Say hi to Tone Bell for me. Join our fam by signing up here.

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