What if we told you that we know of an ingredient that can turn almost every cocktail you make into a viscous, frothy soufflé of a drink?
It’s not some rare liqueur or expensive spirit, though. In fact, the ingredient I’m referring to is both plentiful and cheap—the ubiquitous egg white.
At one time, the egg white was the veritable superstar of cocktails—appearing in the nearly extinct Pink Lady, the Clover Club, and whiskey sours, in some of the most chic bars of the pre- and post-prohibition world.
Even if you can’t jetset off to the bar at the Savoy, we’ve rounded up three of our favorite classic egg white cocktails—all of which will give your your daily dose of albumen and put a big smile on your face. Yes, they’re really that good.
Our first drink (and quickly becoming a fall favorite) is a Harvest Sour, a blend of rye, Applejack, lemon juice, simple syrup, an egg white and two kinds of bitters—Angostura and Peychaud’s.
This cocktail was first introduced to us by the bartenders at Little Branch, a subterranean speakeasy-style bar near our apartment. Ryan was feeling a bit under the weather, and asked our server to have the bartender craft up something to make him feel better. His only requirement was that he wanted egg whites in the drink. They presented us with this lovely number and it’s fast become a drink we finds ourselves wanting over and over again.
The principal ingredient—Applejack—is an apple brandy-based spirit made by Laird & Company, the oldest distillery in the country. The Laird family has been producing Applejack since around 1700 and have so far kept their recipe within the family, with one exception: noted apple aficionado George Washington. The future president requested and received their recipe for “cyder spirits” after Robert Laird served under Washington in the Revolutionary army.
Now that you’ve had your history lesson, put 3/4 ounce of lemon juice, 3/4 ounce of simple syrup, 1 egg white, 1 ounce of your favorite rye and 1 ounce of Applejack in a cocktail shaker.
Give it a good dry shake, sans ice. This helps the froth from the egg white build up. Then, add a few cubes of ice and shake again. Strain and garnish with a dash each of the Angostura and the Peychaud’s.
The next cocktail hails from an entirely different (likely unexpected) continent: South America.
The Pisco Sour, a Peruvian favorite, named for its main ingredient, dates back to around 1900, but was first popularized in the U.S. by Charles Baker, the food and drink editor of Town & Country magazine in the 1940s. (Baker also wrote a super book on cocktails: Jigger, Beaker and Glass: Drinking Around the World.)
Nowadays, a lot of Pisco Sours are made, unfortunately, without raw egg, but don’t skip it here. The egg creates a great foamy head for this mildly sweet drink.
Mix 1 ounce of lime juice, 1/4 ounce of simple syrup, and an egg white with 2 ounces of pisco. Once again, give it a good dry shake before adding ice and shaking again. Strain into a champagne flute (or a coupe) and garnish with Angostura.
Our last drink is one of the most revered classic cocktails and another that is nearly extinct. Hailing from the Big Easy, the Ramos Gin Fizz existed long before vodka tonics were the extent of most bartenders’ capabilities.
A lot of great bartenders might give you a stink eye if you ask them to make you one of these, but once you’ve shaken one for yourself (and once you’ve cleaned out a shaker formerly filled with egg whites!), you’ll understand why.
The Ramos is a luxurious blend of heavy cream (we used Ronnybrook), egg white, and orange flower water, among other “simple” ingredients such as gin, lemon and lime juices, and superfine sugar.
If the ingredient list doesn’t deter you, shake the juice of half of a lemon and half of a lime with 2 teaspoons of superfine sugar, 2 or 3 drops of orange flower water, an egg white, 1 ounce of heavy cream and 2 ounces of London dry gin.
Seems simple enough, but you can’t just give a Ramos your everyday cocktail shake. The Ramos takes a bit of effort. Shake that baby until you can’t shake it any more. (Your hands will freeze before your arms fall off, we promise.)
In fact, in the 1937 book, Famous New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix ‘Em, Stanley Clisby Arthur says you should shake your Ramos until it feels “ropy,” which, in our experience, can take almost five minutes.
Once you’ve gotten there, strain into a Collins glass and top with soda. Your hard work will be rewarded by this tangy, milkshake-like treat and if you’re lucky, an ethereal layer of foam like the one shown below.
These are our favorite three egg white cocktails, but they’re not the only ones! If you want to experiment with more “eggy” drinks (maybe a flip, with an egg yolk?), Imbibe has a nice list.
- Laura and Ryan
On Laura: Dress by Topshop
P.S. If you’re concerned about the risks associated with raw eggs, Table Matters tells us that, according to statistics from the National Safety Council, you’re four times more likely to choke on a handful of bar nuts than you are to get salmonella, so drink up!