There are certain hurdles that one needs to jump if one is going to be serious about drinking vintage cocktails. Afraid of gin? You should probably get over that. Don’t care for the taste of whiskey? Keep trying. There are very few classic cocktails with vodka as a traditional base, so it’s important to learn to enjoy more complex flavors. Luckily, if you’ve got a skilled bartender and the right drink, this is pretty easy to overcome.
Yet another hurdle, however, and one that I think is more mind over matter, is getting comfortable with having raw egg in your drink. There are many classic cocktails with raw egg or egg white as an important component – the Pisco Sour, Ramos Gin Fizz, and Clover Club are just a few of most famous. Eggs can add a velvety mouthfeel to drinks like a Tom and Jerry, or, in the case of the Ramos Gin Fizz, a sort of airy lightness that can only be achieved by shaking egg whites like there’s no tomorrow. And yet, largely thanks to our mothers scolding us not to eat raw cookie dough and the rampant fear of salmonella, many of my friends and fellow cocktail aficionados are not at all interested in the fizzes and flips on the cocktail list.
Well my friends, in the past two weeks I’ve had two different raw egg beverages in two different local establishments, and not only have I lived to tell the tale, that tale is that they were delicious.
The first was that Ramos Gin Fizz, over at Deep Ellum, a fine Allston establishment and one of my favorite bars.
The Ramos gin fizz is made with gin, lemon juice, lime juice, egg white, sugar, cream, orange flower water, and soda water. Invented by Henry C. Ramos in 1888 at his bar in New Orleans, the Ramos Gin Fizz is one of the city’s most famous cocktails, right up there with the Sazerac. Since the idea is to get the egg white as frothy as possible, almost like a meringue, it requires a substantial bit of shaking. Ramos’ bar actually hired “shaker boys” to help make the drinks during rushes.
At Deep Ellum it came in a tall glass, thickly topped with snowy-white froth. The taste is like spring – light and floral due to the orange flower water. The base of the drink is sparkling due to the soda water – it was all in all a fascinating amalgamation of textures and tastes.
Following the success of the fizz, I was ready to try another egg-based cocktail. The next week I got my opportunity at the Green Street Grill, a great bar in Central Square that does an absolutely killer taco night on Wednesdays (the oxtail was to die for). Following the tacos I wanted something sweet so I decided to give their New York Flip a try.
Unlike the Ramos Gin Fizz, the New York Flip (like all flips) contains a whole egg. Rather than lighter than air frothiness, a good flip is creamy, almost thick. With the tawny port, the cream, and the fresh nutmeg, this drink tasted very much like an adult milkshake – better than dessert!
Both forays into the world of raw egg cocktails were a big success! As it turns out, eggs are generally quite safe raw – provided they’re clean and fresh. The shell, after all, is designed to keep nasty things away from the baby chicken, and does a pretty good job of keeping them out of your drink, too!