Let’s face it – as deliciously decadent as eggnog is, its prevalence during the holidays can make one a bit jaded. However, one of the main ingredients in eggnog lends other cocktails its familiar silky smoothness and richness. We are talking about egg whites, and if you’ve consumed eggnog and lived to tell about it, you’re not afraid of them. Egg whites don’t make the drink taste “eggy”, or custardy — they give the drink a thicker, bolder texture, and when shaken, a pleasant foaminess.
There is a technique to the addition of egg whites, however. First — and this should go without saying — make sure your egg is fresh, and that the shell and your hands are clean. Two, when shaking the cocktail, it is necessary to “dry shake,” or shake without ice. You can dry shake the cocktail first, by adding all the ingredients, including the egg white, and shake without ice for a minute, then shake with ice. You can also “reverse dry shake,” or shake the ingredients with ice without the egg white, and then remove the ice and shake the egg white into the chilled cocktail. Either way, you’re breaking apart the protein in the egg white and incorporating it into the cocktail, which does not happen in the presence of ice.
Now that you know the technique, you’re ready to stray from the abundant holiday favorite towards a diverse list of rich, silky cocktails that are just as perfect for the holiday season. Keep reading for a couple of examples, and stop by The Fearrington House Restaurant bar to try one for yourself this holiday season.
The Whiskey/Amaretto/Pisco Sour
It’s amazing what a little citrus, syrup and liquor makes when combined in a glass. Less amazing, however, is the omission of egg white in these classic drinks. Egg white has fallen out of favor at the bar, not only because of the time required to make a good drink with it, but because people are afraid of it, which makes egg white cocktails sell less. I am here to tell you that, despite what you may have heard, the Whiskey Sour was originally made with egg white. Simply put a couple ounces of your favorite whiskey, amaretto liqueur or brandy in a shaker with an ounce of lemon or lime juice, some honey or simple syrup, and one egg white, and you’ll have a perfectly frothy, silky beverage well suited to the colder weather.
The Ramos Gin Fizz
While the “fizz” in Gin Fizz alludes to the carbonated water (or wine) in the cocktail, variations on the cocktail including egg whites give that fizz a whole new meaning. The Gin Fizz and eggs have a long history, earning names like the Silver Fizz, Golden Fizz, and Royal Fizz. One in particular really stands out as truly unique to me: The Ramos Fizz. Invented in New Orleans by Henry C. Ramos in 1888, it is one of the drinks that helped build the foundation of the city’s grandeur as one of the greatest cocktail capitals in the world. It has an exceptionally long mixing time — at least 8 minutes — so there had to be 20 bartenders at Ramos’ bar, the Imperial, in order to meet demand. This extravagant, delicious cocktail has many ingredients, including vanilla, cream, and orange blossom water. It is difficult to make, so make a couple of Sours before you attempt this black-belt level cocktail. Or just order it at the The Fearrington House Restaurant , and make me do it — it’s worth the wait.
Happy Holidays from Fearrington!
– Watson, Fearrington House Restaurant Bartender