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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A Drink of the Week Special Report – A Few Off-the-Beaten Path Cocktails in Las Vegas

This week’s regularly scheduled Drink of the Week has been preempted by my Labor Day weekend trip to Las Vegas, during which I punctuated¬† lengthy bouts at downtown craps tables with excursions in search of Sin City’s finest cocktails.

My original plan had been to focus on a few of the city’s best regarded craft cocktail bars located mostly on the increasingly interesting, and more than a bit trendy, Fremont East section just a block or two away from my temporary digs up at the Golden Nugget.¬† The only problem was that, knowing that these joints — which cater more to locals than us obnoxious tourists — would be closed Sunday night, I planned for Monday, Labor Day evening, as being my main downtown bar crawl. More fool I as that part of the Fremont Street (Hipster) Experience was basically shut down for the entire second half of the Labor Day weekend. Improved Whiskey Sour at the Velveteen Rabbit.

Of course, this being Vegas, not everything was closed and I did manage to find a few cool to truly amazing places with a few truly amazing drinks. We’ll start with my absolute favorite of the group.

What you’re looking at right now is a view of my favorite drink out of several truly excellent cocktails I was privileged to slurp down during my Labor Day of the Lost. This is the Improved Whiskey Sour, which alongside lemon, egg white, and Old Granddad Bourbon, also contains Cherry Herring liqueur/brandy and cinnamon syrup.

As to what’s up with that stencil of the bunny, the place I enjoyed this at is the Velveteen Rabbit, about 1.2 miles or a $10.00 cab ride away from the Fremont Street area. While I’ve had some lovely variations on a whiskey sour in my day, this one lived up to it’s name with the cherry and cinnamon sweetness cutting through the lemon tartness in just the right way, even as the egg white provided that silky mouth feel you regular readers know I’ve become addicted to.

Almost equally delicious, and a lot more exotic in flavor, was the Green Bitch, which contains Green Chartreuse and an even more oddly tasty herbal liqueur, Strega, along with celery juice, simple syrup, more egg white (no wonder I love this place) and the crowning touch, curry bitters. Imagine the best version of a drink made with these kind of ingredients that you can — the curry is not overpowering and doesn’t taste at all like Indian or Thai or Japanese curry, yet it tastes a bit like curry. It’s pretty wonderful.

As for the Velveteen Rabbit itself — imagine the coolest, nicest, most inviting coffee house you’ve even been to and add really outstanding booze. 20-something sisters Christina and Pamela Dylag have got something with this place.

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Image ALT text goes here.If the hipster bars of Vegas foiled my plans with their hep but tasteful decor and super-civilized hours, Frankie’s Tiki Room was the exact opposite. This place offers mega kitsch appeal both in terms of decor and beverages, delightfully super sweet juice-heavy beverages, and, get this, no closing time — ever! Practically next door by car and a near death experience on foot from the Velveteen Rabbit, the bar combines a drab exterior with a perfectly tiki’d up interior. My 2:00 a.m. repast was the Tiki Bandit, described as a “jackpot of rums, pineapple juice, passion fruit syrup, and blue Curacao.” No surprise that I left my digital camera AND my credit card there and had to retrieve them the next morning, a bit worse for wear.

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Herbs and Rye website may be, as they used to say, “under construction” but the restaurant/bar is a pretty beautifully finished work of art — even if I misunderstood it’s Yelp entry and took a couple of buses there only to find them closed on my first try. A place truly steeped in classic cocktail history and on the cutting edge of today’s cocktail revival, take one step inside and you know you’re in good hands from the classy, comfortable decor. Indeed, one of my earnest young bartenders told me he was a close friend of voluble, New Jersey-bred superstar craft barkeep Steve Schneider, who I interviewed back in June. Just to add flavor, I overhead the 60-something guy next to me, wearing a crisp, white jacket on a 90+ degree evening, complaining into a cell phone about the Gucci handbag with $1700 inside that had been stolen from his car.

There’s also a great, very long happy hour (5-8 p.m., 12-3 a.m.) which won’t give you a discount on the classic cocktails but will get you half-off a really good steak and assorted wines and well beverages. What drinks did I get? Two tried and true ultra-classics I’ll eventually be doing right here at Drink of the Week, a Ramos Gin Fizz and a Brandy Crusta. I’d give you the ingredients, but they’re easy enough to look up and what I had contained all the time honored ingredients. These guys follow the classic path and they know what they’re doing.herbs and rye

  

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