First Time: Ramos Gin Fizz

I shook up my first Ramos Gin Fizz this past weekend. The Ramos is a frothy, low alcohol drink that's perfect for brunch or a poolside cocktail party. As you sip it from a champagne flute, the silky foam releases a summer-like citrus scent. The drink itself is creamy with a tart/sweet dynamic that reminded Christy of Pez candy. I didn't make the perfect version, more on that latter, but it was good. I think, with practice and some different tools, it could be an exquisite cocktail.

I shook my Ramos by hand. Don't do that. History recommends up to five minutes of intense shaking to coax the ingredients into a smooth, silky perfection. I either shook too little or used too much ice, because the delicate froth at the top turned into a decent tasting, but too watery drink at the base. There was also a chalky aspect to the drink. This comes from the egg white. It's possible that less egg white or more shaking would have removed that texture. I didn't find the chalkiness unpleasant and Christy absolutely enjoyed it, but it stood out in an otherwise silky drink. A Ramos Gin Fizz can also be made with a blender. The Joy of Mixology recommends that technique. As a grown-ass man, I felt that a traditional vigorous shaking was the better way to go.  I will be using a blender from now on. If you choose to blend, use only the amount of ice that fits in a champagne flute. It is not an iced drink and, as I found out, too much water messes up the magic.

The Ramos requires some unique ingredients. Heavy cream, raw egg white, and orange flower water are not always on hand at your average bar. Thankfully, the cream and egg are pretty easy to pick up at your local grocery store. Orange flower water used to be hard to find. Nowadays you can stop by BevMo and pick up the Fee Brothers version (grab their rose water while you're there, you  never know when you'll need it). The other ingredients are gin, lemon, lime, simple syrup, and club soda. The recipe makes two drinks. It's a social recipe.

Ramos Gin Fizz: (Gary Regan, The Joy of Mixology)
2 oz. gin
1 oz. heavy cream
1 egg white
1/2 oz. simple syrup
1/2 oz. lime juice
1/2 oz. lemon juice
1/4 oz. orange flower water
club soda
2 half wheels orange, for garnish
Blend all ingredients with ice except for the club soda. Use only enough ice to fill one champagne flute. Divide the drink between two champagne flutes and top off with club soda. Add the garnish.

The Incredible Drinkable Egg

Of all the ingredients returned to us by the great American cocktail resurgence, egg whites are the boldest. Bar patrons will drink "artisanal" moonshine straight from the jug until their liver shuts down, but crack a raw egg into a drink and watch the crowd recoil in horror. Don't be these people. Some of the most satisfying cocktails imaginable require an egg white to reach their foamy perfection. So let's buck up and explore the egg as an ingredient.

Egg whites are added to cocktails for texture, not taste. Properly shaken, an egg white will impart a silky, foamy texture that adds sophistication to otherwise basic liquid ingredients. When eggs fell out of favor, bartenders switched over to lesser additions like sour mix in an attempt to rekindle the magic. They failed. Egg whites, specifically fresh egg whites, can not be replaced. They can only be embraced.

Transient

I get my eggs from the San Diego Public Market. Christy and I use two farms, Spur Valley Ranch and Descanso Valley Ranch. Both deliver richly flavored, pasture-raised eggs fresh from the nest. There are many reasons that I prefer these businesses to industrial farming, but in the case of cocktails, the main selling point is freshness.

Rich silky egg foams come from fresh eggs. As the ingredients are shaken, the egg white proteins unfold and air is captured by the tangled mess. If you've ever made a meringue, you've seen the process in action. Which brings me to dry-shaking. When using egg whites, pour all your ingredients into the shaker without ice. A good 15 seconds of vigorous shaking insures that the egg white will incorporate into the other ingredients and create a perfect foam. After this, add the ice and shake again to chill and dilute the drink. 

Traditional Whiskey Sour at West Coast Tavern

Traditional Whiskey Sour at West Coast Tavern

Ok. A note on salmonella. You won't get it. Seriously, with even basic food handling knowledge and farm fresh eggs you will avoid harming yourself and your guests. That said, don't serve raw egg whites to pregnant women, immune compromised persons, or the very elderly (unless Grandpa wants to remember the taste of a whiskey sour from his favorite club, in which case you indulge him). If you are really concerned with the faint possibility of sickness, you can opt to use pasteurized egg whites. They can be found in cartons at any grocery store. Your cocktails will never rise to the perfection that is provided by fresh eggs, but at least you'll feel protected. If you don't trust even pasteurized eggs, there is no hope for you. Also, why are you still reading this?

With all that out of the way, what drinks should we be drinking? My first egg cocktail was the Pisco Sour. Well, I've had real egg nog, but I'm not bringing whole egg drinks into this. I bought Pisco of the Gods from Trader Joe's because it was cheap and I'd never had Pisco. It made a great drink. Unfortunately, the Sour is also the only drink I've found Pisco to be useful for, so don't buy a bottle just to try it unless you have room in your liquor cabinet budget. 

Snap Gin Fizz at West Coast Tavern

Snap Gin Fizz at West Coast Tavern

I do love me a Sour. The classic Whiskey Sour is only enhanced by the addition of an egg white. By the way, a Sour requires fresh citrus juice. Do not put shelf-stable sour mix in your drink. Just do not, please.  If you want to try a twist on the Whiskey Sour, try this one. I haven't mixed it up yet, but it sounds great.

I want to recommend the Ramos Gin Fizz as well. I want to, but I've never had one. Every article I can find on egg whites in cocktails mentions the Ramos. I'm guessing it's amazing? My plan is to make one or two this weekend. Once I've imbibed, I will report back.

If you would like to have a professional mix your drink, both The Lion's Share and West Coast Tavern have egg drinks on the menu. I recommend The Lion's Cyn-City if, like me, you want something with a little bite and at West Coast they make a perfect Whiskey Sour.

So there you have it, all the nutrition of an egg-white omelet with the added fun of a night on the town. It's time we add a new ingredient to our mixology arsenal. Cocktails favor the bold.
 

Give Murray the Last Word

This weekend I'll be drinking a Last Word in honor of one of Seattle's great bartenders, Murray Stenson. Murray is living with a serious heart condition which is keeping him from serving up outstanding drinks. In order to get this man back on his feet, he needs invasive and expensive surgery. Like so many Americans, Murray does not have insurance. Thankfully, Murray is friends with internet savvy types like Paul Clarke, cocktail enthusiast, writer, and contributing editor at Imbibe. I learned about Murray and a plan to help him through Paul Clarke's site, The Cocktail Chronicles.

Murray has touched a lot of lives. In response, his friends have set up a donation site to cover the medical bills. Anyone can donate to MurrayAid. You can also "like" the MurrayAid Facebook page. They are trying to raise $50,000 and have already passed $28,000. It's heartening to see such an outpouring. If you would, send the cash equivalent of Friday's first round Murray's way. Maybe next time you're in Seattle, he'll be able to mix you up something special.

In any case, raise a toast to the man this weekend. Paul Clarke suggested we make ourselves a Last Word in his honor. I definitely will. I had to buy a bottle of Green Chartreuse to make it happen. Let me know what you think of the drink if you do the same.

Last Word
3/4 oz. gin (I'll be using Plymouth)
3/4 oz. fresh lime juice
3/4 oz. marachino liqueur 
3/4 oz. green chartreuse
Combine the ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice. Shake for 10 seconds and strain into a cocktail glass.

The List

I was recently alerted to a well curated list of classic cocktail must-drinks. Anvil Bar & Refuge created the list and I think it is excellent. I've had a fair number of these, but am left with many to imbibe in the future. I'm glad Dirty Kitchen Adventures shared this with the world.

100 classic cocktails to seek out and enjoy

  1. Absinthe Drip – absinthe, water, sugar
  2. Air Mail – rhum, lime, honey, champagne
  3. Alexander – spirit, creme de cacao, cream
  4. Algonquin – rye, french vermouth, pineapple
  5. Americano – campari, italian vermouth, soda
  6. Aperol Spritz – aperol, sparkling wine
  7. Aviation – gin, lemon, maraschino, creme de violette
  8. Bijou – gin, italian vermouth, green chartreuse, orange bitters
  9. Blackthorn – irish whiskey, french vermouth, absinthe, angostura bitters
  10. Blinker – rye, grapefruit, raspberry syrup
  11. Blood & Sand – scotch, orange juice, italian vermouth, cherry heering
  12. Bramble – gin, lemon, creme de mure
  13. Brandy Crusta – cognac, cointreau, lemon, maraschino, peychaud’s bitters
  14. Caipirinha – cachaca, sugar, lime
  15. Champagne Cocktail – brut, sugar, angostura bitters
  16. Champs Elysees – cognac, lemon, sugar, yellow chartreuse, angostura bitters
  17. Chrysanthemum – french vermouth, absinthe, benedictine
  18. Cocktail a la Louisiane – rye, benedictine, italian vermouth, absinthe, peychaud’s bitters
  19. Coffee Cocktail – cognac, ruby port, egg
  20. Collins – spirit, lemon, sugar, soda
  21. Corn ‘N Oil – blackstrap rum, falernum, angostura bitters
  22. Corpse Reviver #2 – gin, lemon, cointreau, lillet blanc, absinthe
  23. Cuba Libre – rum, coca cola, lime
  24. Daiquiri – rum, lime, sugar
  25. Daisy – bourbon, yellow chartreuse, lemon, lime
  26. the Darb – gin, french vermouth, lemon, apricot brandy
  27. Death in the Afternoon – champagne, absinthe
  28. Dulchin – pisco, apricot brandy, curacao, lime, grenadine
  29. East India Cocktail – cognac, curacao, pineapple gomme, maraschino, angostura bitters
  30. El Diablo – tequila, creme de cassis, lime, ginger beer
  31. Fernet-Branca – it’s a shot of fernet-branca
  32. Fourth Degree – gin, french & italian vermouth, absinthe
  33. French 75 – gin, lemon, sugar, brut champagne
  34. Gimlet – gin, lime, turbinado
  35. Gin & Tonic – gin, tonic water, lime
  36. Gin Gin Mule – gin, lime, ginger beer, mint
  37. Gin Rickey – gin, lime, soda
  38. Hemingway Daiquiri – rum, lime, grapefruit, maraschino
  39. Hot Buttered Rum – rum, butter, sugar, water
  40. Improved Cocktail – spirit, maraschino, peychaud’s & angostura bitters
  41. Jack Rose – applejack, lemon, grenadine
  42. Japanese – brandy, orgeat, angostura bitters
  43. Jasmine – gin, cointreau, campari, lemon
  44. Knickerbocker – rum, raspberry syrup, curacao, lime
  45. Last Word – gin, lime, green chartreuse, maraschino
  46. Mai Tai – rum, curacao, lime, orgeat
  47. Maiden’s Prayer – gin, cointreau, orange, lemon
  48. Manhattan – rye, italian vermouth, angostura
  49. Maple Leaf – bourbon, lemon, maple syrup
  50. Margarita – tequila, lime, cointreau
  51. Martinez – italian vermouth, gin, maraschino, orange bitters
  52. Martini – gin, french vermouth, orange bitters
  53. Metropole – cognac, french vermouth, peychaud’s & angostura bitters
  54. Milk Punch – spirit, sugar, milk
  55. Mint Julep – bourbon, mint, sugar
  56. Mojito – rum, lime, mint, turbinado, soda
  57. Monkey Gland – gin, orange, grenadine, absinthe
  58. Monte Carlo – rye, benedictine, angostura bitters
  59. Morning Glory – scotch, lemon, egg white, absinthe
  60. Navy Grog – rum, honey, lime
  61. Negroni – gin, campari, italian vermouth
  62. Old Fashioned – spirit, sugar, angostura bitters
  63. Old Pal – rye, campari, french vermouth
  64. Opera – gin, dubonnet, maraschino
  65. Oriental – rye, italian vermouth, curacao, lime
  66. Paradise – gin, apricot brady, orange, lemon
  67. Pegu Club – gin, curacao, lime, angostura & orange bitters
  68. Pimm’s Cup – pimm’s no. 1, gin, lemon, soda, cucumber
  69. Pink Gin – gin, angostura bitters
  70. Pink Lady – gin, applejack, lemon, grenadine, egg white
  71. Pisco Punch – pisco, pineapple gomme, lemon
  72. Pisco Sour – piso, lemon, egg white
  73. Port Flip – ruby port, sugar, whole egg
  74. Punch – jerry thomas’ special punch recipe
  75. Ramos Gin Fizz – gin, cream, lemon, lime, egg white, soda, orange flower water
  76. Red Hook – rye, punt e mes, maraschino, angostura & orange bitters
  77. Rum Swizzle – rum, lime, falernum
  78. Rusty Nail – scotch, drambuie
  79. Satan’s Whiskers – gin, french vermouth, italian vermouth, curacao, orange, orange bitters
  80. Sazerac – rye, absinthe, peychaud’s bitters
  81. Scofflaw – rye, french vermouth, lemon, grenadine, orange bitters
  82. Seelbach – bourbon, cointreau, champagne, bitters
  83. Sherry Cobbler – sherry, sugar, fruit, soda
  84. Sidecar – cognac, cointreau, lemon
  85. Silver Fizz – spirit, lemon, sugar, egg white, soda
  86. Singapore Sling – gin, cherry heering, lime, pineapple, cointreau, benedictine, grenadine, angostura bitters
  87. Smash – spirits, sugar, water, mint
  88. Stinger – cognac, creme de menthe
  89. Suffering Bastard – bourbon, gin, lemon, ginger beer, angostura bitters
  90. Tailspin – gin, italian vermouth, green chartreause, campari
  91. ‘Ti Punch – rhum agricole, lime, sugar
  92. Toddy – spirit, sugar, hot water
  93. Tom & Jerry – rum, brandy, egg, nutmeg
  94. Twentieth Century Cocktail – gin, lemon, creme de cacao, lillet blanc
  95. Vesper – gin, vodka, lillet
  96. Vieux Carre – cognac, rye, italian vermouth, benedictine, angostura & peychaud’s bitters
  97. Whiskey Skin – scotch, lemon, hot water
  98. White Lady – gin, cointreau, lemon
  99. Widow’s Kiss – calvados, benedictine, yellow chartreause, angostura bitters
  100. Zombie – jamaican rum, lime, lemon, pineapple, passion fruit syrup, brown sugar, angostura bitters