I don’t mean to brag, but I’m a pretty macho mixer. Despite my ladylike demeanor — hey, stop that snickering! — I can get a hoary frost going on the side of a cocktail shaker with the best of the boys.
But when it comes to cocktails that include a touch of egg white, I find they need a little extra oomph to keep their pretty heads about them. Plus, the amount of time it takes to shake an egg to a crisp foam means you’re likely to wind up with a rather watery drink.
Rather than tweaking the other ingredients to make up for this mechanical flaw, it seems easier to tip the laws of physics in the bartender’s favor. When making a Ramos Fizz, for example, I find it’s helpful to add just a touch of the soda to the shaker. I’m no Harold McGee, but my guess is that this small amount of priming helps the egg loosen up a little and creates a better foam, even before the final shot of soda is added in the glass.
But when you’re mixing fizzless drinks, you can’t go this route. Luckily, there’s another way to build foam without spraining your shoulder. During an early-afternoon brunch at The Alembic last fall, we spied a bartender putting the finishing touches on her fizzes with a hand-held stick blender, after shaking the ingredients first to chill ‘em. Brilliant!
You don’t have to look far to find plenty of egg-based drinks to try out this frothing trick. There’s the venerable Sherry Flip, the old-school Morning Glory Fizz, the whippersnapper Silver Lining, the newly minted French Sheets, and dozens of others. But given the season — it’s spring at last! — allow me to suggest the Clover Club cocktail, an old-fashioned libation with a festive pink hue.
Although a pair of 1911 advertisements has convinced me that the original Clover Club recipe called for grenadine, I’m equally certain that the use of raspberry syrup (or better yet, muddled raspberries) was quite well established before Prohibition. The three oldest books in my cocktail collection — the Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book, Cocktails How to Mix Them and The Merry Mixer — call for some manner of raspberry in place of the grenadine, and a side-by-side tasting at our house showed the wisdom of that choice. Even using good homemade pomegranate syrup, the grenadine version is literally a pale second to the fruitier upstart. Without the berry flavor, it’s just a ho-hum gin sour with a little blush around the edges.
But don’t take my word for it: Try it both ways and see. You’ll undoubtedly find plenty of eggs this week to experiment with.
1-1/2 oz gin
3/4 oz lemon juice (some say lime)
1/4 to 1/2 oz raspberry syrup (or grenadine)
white of 1 egg
Shake all ingredients with ice for at least a minute until very well chilled. If desired, strain into a measuring cup or a second shaker can, and buzz with a stick blender for 10 seconds to create a denser froth. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.