Drink of the Week: The Ramos Gin Fizz

the Ramos Gin Fizz.It’s the day after Thanksgiving and, if you seriously overdid it in the alcohol department while getting into a drunken political argument with your uncle Dave, you should probably lay off the booze completely today. Have a nice glass of orange juice maybe. Even so, for many a boozer, the solution to too much booze is just a little more booze, delivered with a thoughtfully prepared cushion of sugar and fat.

I admit it, the sugar, egg white, and milk fat in the drink originally referred to as the New Orleans Gin Fizz tends to soften the drink’s alcoholic blow much in the manner of that slimmer, more vitamin-rich hang-over classic, the Bloody Mary. Still, you don’t have to be a degenerate drinker to enjoy this labor intensive, slightly tart refresher, the best known member of the large category of drinks knowns as fizzes, and yet another American classic associated with the wondrous city of New Orleans.

The Ramos Gin Fizz

2 ounces gin
1 large egg white
1-3 ounces seltzer water (for the fizz!)
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce heavy cream or half-and-half
1/2 ounce simple syrup or 2 1/2 teaspoons sugar (will taste slightly sweeter)
2-3 drops orange flower water (definitely optional, I say)

Combine all of the ingredients, except the carbonated water, in a sturdy cocktail shaker. Follow our usual egg white procedure and dry shake for about 10-20 second. Be careful because that egg white wants to make the top of your shaker pop off sometimes.

Next, following our usual procedure, add lots of ice and shake again. Usually a vigorous 10-20 seconds or so would be sufficient here, but in a nod to tradition — which we’ll be discussing below — try to go as long as you can before your arms feel like they’re about to fall off and your hands freeze. I managed about 45 seconds on my own and pretty much doubled that with the help of a friend.

Strain into a Tom Collins style glass or something similar, and add the all-important seltzer water to give your fizz it’s fizz. Toast the long tradition of strong-armed bartenders.

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Okay, now everyone will tell you that you actually need to shake the Ramos Gin Fizz with ice, no dry shaking allowed, for a minimum of one minute, and preferably two, three, or 12 minutes. For that last number, you’d apparently be following the instructions of Mr. Henry Ramos himself, who famously employed a relay of 12 bartenders to prepare just one famous fizz.

I smell more than a bit of hype here. Regular readers know I’m no stranger to using egg white in cocktails. My recipe is largely adapted and adjusted a bit from a few I found online, including from purist David Wondrich and a more modern Epicurious. I, however, see no reason for self-torture to make the Ramos Fizz. Shaking for two minutes might not sound like a lot but, once you try doing it yourself, you’ll realize it’s not hard to reach your limit. “Why kill yourself?” I ask

Speaking of killing yourself, Mr. Wondrich insists you have to use heavy cream for this and derides the substitution of mere half-and-half. Having tried it both ways, I have to say that I actually prefer it with the somewhat less suicidally fattening/artery clogging half-and-half. The heavy cream, for me, is, well, a bit heavy.

On the other hand, I prepared the straight-up Wondrich take with a friend, who loved it just the way it was. I have to admit that the Ramos Fizz is slightly tart for my personal taste, but that’s the way to drink it. “King Cocktail” Dale DeGroff’s version actually calls for a LOT of simple syrup — an entire shot’s worth at 1 1/2 ounces  — while using regular homogenized milk. That didn’t solve the tartness problem for me, while also feeling thin.

In any case, I found that pretty much every version I made of this drink was satisfying, refreshing, and surprisingly non-buzz inducing — we can thank all those extra fat and sugar calories for that, I suppose.

I tried a Ramos Fizz with both Tanqueray and Gordon’s gin, without it making it much of a difference. I also forgot to include the orange flower water a couple of times and noticed almost no difference, which worries me. One time, I forgot the include the gin. That made a difference. The scary part was, it was less tart and I liked it!

  

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Partying The Night Before Thanksgiving

Heading out the night before Thanksgiving is a great tradition filled with friends, sort-of-friends, old girlfriends and hookup opportunities. We love it!

Here’s a cool video from Captain Morgan featuring Jenna Marbles that has some fun with the concept and will probably motivate you to head out tonight.

  

Drink of the Week: The Coffee Cocktail

The Coffee Cocktail.For my final post before the Thanksigiving holiday, I offer you a delicious after dinner (or breakfast!) drink that will nevertheless do absolutely nothing to counter your turkey/mash potato coma. You see, just as the chocolatey egg cream you can get at your nearest Jewish deli has neither egg nor cream, the Coffee Cocktail has no coffee. Moreover, when it was invented some time in the 1880s or so, it wasn’t even actually a cocktail, because back then that required the presence of bitters.

What it is, however, is shockingly delicious. Think a winey, lighter, fruitier egg nog. In fact, it’s so good I simply can’t decide between the two recipes I found, so I’m giving you both recipes this week in an act of outrageous pre-Turkey Day bounty. It’s got a whole egg in it, but thanks to the miracle of pasteurized eggs, there’s really no reason any tippler should avoid this.

The Coffee Cocktail

1 1/2 ounces brandy
1 1/2 ounces port
1 whole large egg
1 teaspoon sugar
grated nutmeg

OR

2-3 ounces port
1 ounce brandy
1 whole egg
1 teaspoon sugar
grated nutmeg

Combine the liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Dry shake (i.e., without ice) to properly emulsify the egg. If done properly, it will disappear in a lovely beige-to-light purple froth. Then, add lots of ice and shake again. Strain into a chilled wine glass or goblet and sprinkle a bit of grated nutmeg on top. Toast the fact that you’re lucky enough to have shelter and be able to enjoy life’s simpler pleasures, such as a really delicious and refreshing not-quite-cocktail complete with all the nutrition of a whole egg.

***

I mostly made this with the remains of my bottle of St. Remy Brandy and, later, a very inexpensive bottle of a brand called Hartley, made by the Sazarac company. It’s sweetness was actually a very nice complement to the drink.

Still, the big decision a Coffee Cocktail drinker has to make is between tawny and ruby port. The first recipe above is drawn mainly from Robert Hess’s The Essential Bartender’s Guide (you can also see him make it in this video). Hess actually calls for simple syrup, but I found substituting a similar amount of actual sugar added just the right amount of additional sweetness to a drink that just wants to be that way.  He, however, does not specify a type of port. “Any port in a storm,” he suggests.

The second recipe is based on Ted “Dr. Cocktail” Haigh’s recipe in his Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, reviving the drink first memorialized in 1887 by the legendary Jerry Thomas. He specifically calls for ruby port.

My own verdict: Stick with the tawny on the first version, it’s mellower, and the results look slightly more coffee-like, as the ruby port makes a drink that’s far more purple than beige. I loved both tawny and ruby port on the second, Haighian take.

As for my egg, yes, it was pasteurized and, especially if you can find super-safe eggs on sale at your liquor supermarket the way I did, you might as well go that way if you’re making this on the big holiday. Our digestive systems take enough Thanksgiving punishment…but I definitely wouldn’t discourage hardier souls from using a regular, garden variety egg. The Coffee Cocktail is worth a tiny risk.

  

Drink of the Week: The Round Robin

The Round Robin.Are you into absinthe? I’m definitely not averse to it as a little-goes-a-very-long-way ingredient in a numerous drinks, but I can’t say that I’m a fan of it in it’s classic mode of preparation. It’s not just it’s strength and bitterness, it’s the fact that I’m not even a fan of licorice candy, let alone industrial-strength anise and fennel.

On the other hand, if there’s one ingredient I’ve found in my alcoholic wanderings that can transform a potentially repulsive drink into a taste treat, it’s a raw egg white, properly emulsified. This week’s drink, which comes I know not from where, puts that theory to the test in a big, big way. Let’s get this wormword and poultry-product party started.

The Round Robin

1 ounce brandy
1 ounce absinthe
1 egg white
1 teaspoon superfine sugar

Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker. To emulsify the egg white, shake vigorously without ice. Then, add ice, shake vigorously again, and strain into a wine glass. Toast the legalization of absinthe back in the mid-2000s when people started to figure out that the stuff is no more (or less) dangerous than other types of booze. Prohibition never works.

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Well, I guess this is another vote from me for the miraculous properties of raw eggs  in cocktails as, on balance, I really like this drink. In fact, I like this drink so much that, even though I’d have a hard time finding a difference between good absinthe and bad absinthe, I’d almost spend the $70 or more it takes to buy some of the putative good stuff just to try it in a Round Robin.

Why? Well, just as an Old Fashioned humanizes even a very strong bourbon or rye, the Round Robin actually makes the bitter licorice on steroids flavor of absinthe not only tolerable but fascinating.

While I only have one brand of absinthe on hand and it’s not supposed to be that good — I gather than aficionados of the wormwood liquor find Absinthe Ordinaire to be appropriately named at a mere 92 proof — I did try different brandies out. Killing my bottle of St. Remy worked just fine but a Ile de Ré Fine Island Cognac worked even better.

However, the one big change I made from my usual habit was was using a pasteurized brand of egg white I picked up at my local Trader Joe’s (3 tablespoons of the stuff is said to approximate one egg white). While the the seemingly low viscosity of the stuff looked suspect, the fact of the matter is that it worked just as well as the stuff you get directly from the chicken…and I know my friend from the local health department would agree that salmonella is about the last thing I need right now. I’m usually not one to worry about such stuff, but if you’d been through as many perfect storms I’ve been through over the last six months, you might be a bit extra cautious yourself.

Coming up next: An adventure with pasteurized whole eggs and a coffee drink with zero caffeine and no decaffeinated coffee, either.

  

Drink of the Week: The Dream Cocktail

the Dream Cocktail. I’m starting to write this post on the night of what sure appears to be an enormous victory for a political party that is very much not my own. So, you know I can use a drink. The only problem: I don’t actually drink while I’m writing these.

Still, talking about drinking can be more fun than actually drinking, and the Dream Cocktail is kind of easy to write about because it seems as if almost no one else has. I dug up this obscurity in my trusty Savoy Cocktail Book and, for once, I have no stories to tell about the drink’s origins or much anyone else. On line I’ve found exactly one post about the original version (kind of) and one odd but intriguing variant.

Still, I have to say that I think the the Dream cocktail is, at the very least, worth sleeping on. It’s not at all bad and, if you get it just right, it can be mildly awesome. Let’s begin.

The Dream Cocktail

2 ounces brandy or cognac
1 ounce orange curacao or Cointreau
1/4 teaspoon absinthe

Combine the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice. Shake vigorously, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Toast the Sandman, bringer of dreams and cool early 1990s horror/fantasy comics written by Neil Gaiman.

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I tried the Dream Cocktail not only with curacao and Cointreau, but with Grand Marnier, which didn’t really blend like I’d hoped. I had the best luck, however, when I switched out the inexpensive St. Remy brandy I was using for some really high end Ile de Ré Fine Island Cognac I had left over from past adventures in tandem with my not-at-all expensive DeKuyper curacao. The blend of simple orangey sweetness and sophisticated cognac-y grit was just the thing to take the Dream Cocktail over the top into the land of Morpheus.

  

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