This one, I think, is called a Yink.
He likes to wink, he likes to drink.
He likes to drink, and drink, and drink.
The thing he likes to drink is ink.
The ink he likes to drink is pink.
He likes to wink and drink pink ink.
SO…if you have a lot of ink,
then you should get a Yink, I think.
From One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss
OK, so it’s not really ink. But it’s certainly pink. That’s because of the hibiscus flowers used to infuse the vodka – the old fashioned way. Just throw them in, give it a shake (after you’ve put the lid on, obviously) and let it sit. After that you strain out the flowers and milk wash the vodka. It’s another very old technique. In fact, Ben Franklin was a big fan and used it to make a lot of milk punch because it removed a lot of the harshness associated with polyphenols (not that he probably knew that…), which are responsible for the astringency in tea, wine and other liquids, such as the low grade brandy he likely would have been using back in the eighteenth century.
Milk is added to the hibiscus vodka and then a small amount of citric acid is added (Ben might have used lemon juice). The acid curdles the milk and makes it split. It looks pretty gross and not something you’d want to drink at this point. Gently stirring the curds mops up all the polyphenols and you can see the solids start to drop, leaving a vaguely clear portion at the top. Now Ben would have spent a good few hours straining over and over to remove the solids and then would probably have left it to settle again before repeating the process. And it still wouldn’t have been as clear as it is when I sling the mix straight into the centrifuge and give it a quick half hour spin – BOOM! The centrifugal force sucks all the particulate to the bottle of the bottle and compacts it, leaving crystal clear and very pink vodka with just the smallest layer of milk solids stuck to the bottom. Separating the two is just a matter of pouring the vodka off the top (through a coffee filter as a safeguard to catch any stray bits that may remain). Using the centrifuge gives a better quality final product but also improves the yield significantly because the separation of liquid and solids is so defined. Tough luck, Mr. Franklin.
As well as softening the taste by removing the polyphenols, this technique leaves protein rich casein from the milk suspended in the vodka – which you can’t see but whose effects are evident as soon as you shake up a cocktail as they give you a deliciously rich, thick foam as the drink settles. The only real downside to this technique is that the casein does start to settle out of the liquid gradually and this foaming effect is only at it’s most potent when freshly made. After a week or so you’ll see white deposits at the bottom of the bottle and any foam generated is thin and dissipates quickly. So you have to drink it fast. Is that so bad?
Make a Yink to Drink
Once the vodka is done the drink is simple to complete. Next step, back to the centrifuge! In go blended peaches and a little Pectinex to help break down the pectin and once those are clarified you really ARE in the simple completion phase…vodka, clarified peach, a little lime juice and maybe some simple syrup depending on how sweet your peaches are (you can use a refractometer to check if you feel the need to). Give it a good shake on plenty of ice and strain into a coupe. Watch in wonder as a Guinness-like swirl of pink slowly clears and a rich head of foam develops at the top. Then decorate with drops of Angostura bitters and swirl a straw through them to create a fancy-pants pattern. You’re done. Enjoy.
So…if you like to drink and what you like to drink is pink then you will like A Yink (I Think).
Many thanks to Matt Dakin for the great photo!