At present, eggs aren’t part of standard bar service, but by the time I finish this book they could be. After leaving tales of the cocktail, I feel that it’s a good time to get people hyped on drinking chickens.
I was introduced to egg whites in cocktails by reading the gentleman’s companion. Unfortunately, I worked in college and did not spring break in peru and chile. Though I have found that schwhag swilling spring breakers have brought this classic cocktail back to north America. If I can thank date raping backwards cap wearing frat boys for anything, it would be that. But you know who else I’ll thank? Old people, old people remember when drinkers trusted bartenders, to well, make go drinks. Still, egg whites are complicated to get people to drink as well as to just mix with. That being said, the biggest obstacle, bigger than any technique, is getting over fear. The fear has a name, Mr Salmonela J. Vomits and Pukes.
You are going to die. It’s important to understand that to be a healthy normal person. You are going to die, but its not going to be from drinking egg whites. Here are the facts on salmonela, you just aren’t going to get it from eggs, the odds are way off, I’ll take all bets. One in twenty thousand eggs contain the so feared bacteria, making the odd of your exposure extremely low, once per every 42 years of egg consuming. Furthermore, just because an egg contains this bacteria doesn’t mean that it will be contracted. And if you are really worried, ask the health department, they will likely tell you that bean sprouts and green peppers are the biggest culprits. Most bacteria that would be on an egg is indeed on the shell, a simple dunk in hot water or spritz with vodka kills most things. And furthermore, 8% alcohol kills salmonella, if you make a drink with that little booze you can just fuck right off. And on top of that a ph of less than 5 kills salmonella, I understand almost all fruit fits into that category.
To address freshness, American eggs are packed with 2 dates, the Jullian date (numbers I through 365 showing which day food was processed) and the sell by date. The sell by date is 48 days from the pack date, for the freshest date go for eggs that are less than 28 days old. For the freshest eggs, get a chicken. Don’t get a rooster, roosters are for baristas or soccer moms or anyone else who likes to get up at the crack of dawn. For me, I could get a rooster once a week and kill it every week for annoying me. Visit a farm: learn to hate roosters.
To address “grossness,” first off, I triple dog dare you to read the ingredients on any of your favorite foods. If you’ve read the “Jungle” or “Fast Food Nation,” you’ll know what I mean. But wait, whats that? You shop at whole foods and only use all natural products? Well, people are slipping you eggwhites everyday like lies about the tooth fairy to children. Custard, merengues, crème brulee, eggs benedict, gomme syrup sour mix, these all have uncooked egg bits, and with the exception of the last one, are all delicious.
But the real point here isn’t food safety or poultry slamming (that’s Ira Glass’ job),the point is the drinking. I’ve always said that eggs adds a texture and a mouth feel that carry flavours throughout the mouth very well. Then I saw a woman suck the prairie oyster cocktail off a dude’s stomach and I realized that she was more accurate when called egg cocktails “sexy.” Hot and sexy or traditional and lost arts (all?) egg cocktails are amazing and need to be experienced. Many recipes you’ll find for egg whites are from the moldy old tomes with bizarre measurements. Dave Wondrich points out in the book Imbibe! that eggs like modern people are bigger than they used to be. But frequently so are drinks. Most modern drinks are going to be twice the size of their fore fathers. Being that a useful egg white is flavourless all you really need to be cautious of is not using so much that it dilutes other flavours.
The drink recipes you’ll encounter in the old tomes will fall into categories, mostly noted in the name of the drink, such was the style at the time. If you ask me, I’ll rant a while and say that cocktails are intimidating because “the family” isn’t in the title anymore. That being said, you’ll find sours,: a spirit that has a sweetener, lemon and or lime and an egg white, shaken, strained and up. Yes, a whiskey sour, an ameretto sour and a pisco sour are all supposed to have egg whites. You’ll read about flips: a whole egg, shaken and stained. Perhaps you remember egg nog, with cream. Or heard of a fizz: when you have a white and add carbonation. The Ramos Gin Fizz being the most popular, like drinking a cloud, you haven’t made it right unless you almost pass out after shaking it as hard as you can. I understand platoons of young me were hired to shake them in the past, up to 12 guys, one minute each per drink. And if you’re from the british isles perhaps a possett: egg yolks, (insert booze of choice) cream and spices super heated with a red hot cherry poker. People still drink them at Scottish weddings but they were very popular 400 years ago.
But these days, you’ll be doing mostly flips and sours. There is veritably an egg revolution in cocktail bars, each bar having there own technique. Rather than list them all (which I can’t) I’ll offer the 3 techniques that I’ve found the most useful.
1 and 2: The dry shake. If you shake a drink with normal ice from a freezer or regular ice machine, you’ll find that you can melt half of its volume in a couple minutes. Meaning: yes, you shake a drink hard, but the longer you do it, the greater the potential to serve watery booze and that’s no way to win friends. The dry shake I’ve best seen executed two ways, measuring all ingredients and placing the spring from a hawthorne strainer in the shaker, shake vigorously then add ice, shake quickly and done. Easier is to get a frother, a battery powered dirnk mixer that will blend the eggs in the glass, then add ice and shake. Sadly, I have done the “john Henry challenge” with the frother and, I have lost. But, its cooler to do it by hand.
3. On a molecular level, alcohol and acid (fruit or vinegar) break an egg down and sugar emulsifies it. So, when time is not an issue, add the egg to the booze and acid, shake or froth, this will break down the egg’s molecular structure. Then add sugar and mix again, this puts it all back together in a tidy fluffy cloud of joy. The new mixture is less likely to separate.
Oh, and 3.5: When cleaning up after egg drinks, use cold water. Hot water will “scramble” the eggs right on the glass.
Some cocktails for you
Ramos Gin Fizz- Henry C Ramos 1888
1 lemon juice
.5 simple syrup
1 egg white
1 dash orange flower water
shake and strain into a Collins glass and top with soda
White Lady – (a sour) – Harry MacElhone 1919
I egg white
Shake and strain into a cocktail glass
Lord of Carlisle’s Sack-Posset-Sir Kenelm Digby 1671
Take a pottle of Cream, and boil in it a little whole Cinnamon, and three or four flakes of Mace. To this proportion of Cream put in eighteen yolks of eggs, and eight of the whites; a pint of Sack; beat your eggs very well, and then mingle them with your Sack. Put in three quarters of a pound of Sugar into the Wine and Eggs, with a Nutmeg grated, and a little beaten Cinnamon; set the Bason on the fire with the Wine and Eggs, and let it be hot. Then put in the Cream boiling from the fire, pour it on high, but stir it not; cover it with a dish, and when it is settlede, strew on the top a little fine Sugar mingled with three grains of Ambergreece, and one grain of Musk, and serve it up.