Ever scrub a smashed raw egg off a beautifully aged wooden floor at three o'clock in the morning?
Not everything about being a classic bartender is embedded with a sheen of glamour. I used to keep raw eggs in the collection of ingredients housed in cute little flip top containers on the bar, but I don't keep them there anymore. It took three separate raw egg smashing incidents to occur before I had to draw the line. I moved them away from the roving arms of the public, realizing, there's a bunch of savages in downtown man. They seem to be an item of curiosity- eggs on a bar, and displaying them sparks conversation. I guess I liked that. At first.
"What's the point of putting the egg in that?" Raw eggs have been used in mixed drinks for a very long time. There are whole categories of classic cocktails that call for egg parts. Almost all traditional sours, fizzes, flips, and nogs have eggs in there somewhere. There's usually at least one or two weekly featured tipples on the menu that involve the whites. When whipped, aerated, and emulsified into a drink, the white of a raw egg brings the texture to a beautifully light and velvety mouth-feel that cannot be replicated any other way. Guests often ask me if the egg can be left out of their drink. Usually I strongly advise against changing the recipe and suggest they try something else. It's just not going to be the same, and likely not nearly as delicious. The only time I don't mind is for the vegans. I generally figure they're used to eating things that are not nearly as tasty as they could be. But there is a stigma there, which I do acknowledge, embedded in us since our mothers smacked our hands out of bowls of cookie batter, hissing out a warning of one dreadful-sounding word: "Salmonella!!"
"Won't that make me sick?!" I read that statistically, you're about four times more likely to choke on bar nuts than to get food poisoning from a cocktail. On some minimal level, I suppose you could say that it is a bit of risk verses reward. I can tell you, undoubtedly, that I have been adding fresh raw eggs to drinks for at least six years on a completely regular basis, and not one time has anyone ever accused me of making them sick. To put it in perspective, we currently go through about one to two HUNDRED eggs a week. If you were to sit and chow down on whole raw eggs, the risk of coming in contact with this bowel related nightmare is about 1 in 20,000. I suppose your next likely line of thinking is, "Well, what if in my life time I drink 20,000 egg cocktails?" Relax! Keep in mind that most recipes that call for raw eggs also require ample amounts of fresh citrus. Add in the nullifying effects of a good pour of alcohol, and odds are ever more in your favor. Also, salmonella usually enters the egg through a dirty or sometimes cracked shell, or grows from a minuscule amount inside if the egg is stored improperly for an extended period of time. Local eggs which are handled responsibly and used as quickly as possible, drag that chance of risk down even farther. The only reason it makes people squeamish in their cocktail is because it's presented directly in front of them. Crack, crack, plop! If someone has ever had mayonnaise, hollandaise, mousse, good Caesar dressing, or a fried egg over easy, then this issue hasn't slowed them down before.
There are some shining examples of well placed egg whites that stand out above others. A recipe penned by Portland resident and well known writer, Jeffery Morgenthaler is basically the only Ameretto Sour instruction you'll ever need. It's commonly referred to in the industry as 'The Morgenthaler Cocktail', and on his aptly named website, he clearly states, "I make the best Amaretto Sour in the World!!,... No, really. I’m serious. In case you think I’m joking, or that you read that wrong, let me go on the record right now: I make the best Amaretto Sour you’ve ever had in your life. No ifs, ands or buts about it, my Amaretto Sour dominates and crushes all others out there!" This is also my favorite sour recipe. Every time I taste one made well, my toes curl and it instantly reminds me why I love this drink. Click over to Morgenthaler's website here.
"What's the most fun thing for you to make?" One drink that stands out in the hearts of all mixologists is the classic Ramos Gin Fizz. Never had one? You're missing out, the Ramos is definitely on my big list of drinks you have to try at least once. This drink is a straight crowd killer and it never never lets me down. At first glance it looks really creamy and has this little pillow of meringue developed on the top, but there's a light fluffy silken texture that most people have never experienced before. It has a lot of ingredients in it, one somewhat hard to find, and takes the longest of any drink to make but watching the reaction of eyes lighting up at that first sip is worth any effort. Below is my recipe, it works for me, and from research it seems to be close to the 1888 recipe, although the vanilla is widely debated. If you want to make this in your home bar, do not try and swap out parts. This drink is no man's hodgepodge, use the whole cream, and the orange blossom water is a necessity. Trust when I say, no OJ or other orange product of any kind will do. You can find it online or at most international markets.
"That's going into my drink?!" Yes. And you are going to thank me, because it will be delicious. More and more people are coming in and particularly asking for sours "The Old Fashioned Way". This fills me with delight, the guest trying delicately to explain their desire for eggs to me and then I pull out my little flip top, no longer on top of the bar, and explain, "Don't worry, that's all we do here," and relief washes over them. There really is nothing like it.
Ramos Gin Fizz
In a dry mixing tin with no ice add:
1 egg white (Egg goes in first to avoid contamination if a big hunk of shell falls in)
1.5 oz London Dry Gin (I like American Gin in this too, like New Amsterdam)
1 oz whole cream
1/2 oz Fresh Lemon
1/2 oz Fresh Lime
3/4 oz Simple Syrup (Sugar and hot water diluted in equal parts)
4 drops real Vanilla Extract
6-8 drops Orange Blossom Water (for real, 8 is plenty)
Dry shake the ingredients with out ice first to emulsify, then add ice to "Wet Shake".
The original recipe says this drink should be shaken for 12 minutes, you don't need to go to quite those extremes but I typically do shake it hard until my arms ache.
Top the glass off slowly with seltzer or soda water.
Stir, and top some more to achieve the marshmallow effect.
They say if the straw doesn't stand straight up, you didn't do it right.