Monday, November 22, 2010

[Cocktail Log] The Ramos Gin Fizz

While in Seattle this past week I got the chance to have an expertly mixed Ramos Gin Fizz at a speakeasy called Needle and Thread. It was amazing, and I vowed to learn to make it come hell or highwater (or, more likely, come very sore arms or high drunkenness). The RGF is very different from a classic Gin Fizz (that being: gin, lemon, powdered sugar, and club soda). It's an elaborate variation created by a mad genius (who apparently employed upwards of 30 street urchins to be "shaker boys" at the height of the drink's popularity). Apparently it's a popular breakfast drink or something, but to hell with that.

Enough parentheticals! Here's the recipe! Or at least, one version of it, and the one I used as a starting point when I started experimenting on my friends and myself.
  • 2 ounces gin
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 ounce heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons superfine sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange flower water
  • Cold club soda
Vigorously shake the gin, lemon juice, lime juice, egg white, cream, sugar, and orange flower water with ice; then strain into a 10-ounce highball glass without ice. Pour in club soda to fill.

Here's what I learned during my first night of experimentation:
1) This is an exhausting drink to make. It requires a LOT of vigorous shaking
2) When making egg-white drinks, it pays to spend some time "dry shaking" the drink. That is, shake it thoroughly without any ice to work some air into the egg mixture. Then add ice and shake again to foam it up and chill it.
3) I still can't quite get the foam the way I want it. Mine ends up kinda "latte foam", it's thick but very wet. The one I had at N&T managed to get foam that was very light, stable and relatively dry. More like meringue than latte. I'm not sure if I need more shaking, or if I need to investigate other methods (shaking the egg without mixers maybe?)
4) I tried the nearest couple of good liquor stores looking for Orange Flower Water but was predictably disappointed. I subbed in triple sec which worked fine, but I'll definitely be keeping my eyes open for OFW to improve this.
5) 1 oz is way too much cream IMO. I dropped this to about a half-ounce and the drink became much less heavy and creamy, and more ginny and fizzy.
6) Some recipes call for 2 drops of vanilla extract. This is, apparently, quite controversial. I don't care about the drama, but I do like the taste with some vanilla. It really makes the foam interesting! However: go VERY easy. The flavors in the drink are very subtly balanced and it's easy to overpower them with vanilla. I'll be dropping this to 1 drop in the future.
7) Gin experiments need to be done too. I made these with Plymouth. They were tasty!

So, still lots of room for improvement. But hey! That's what makes this such a great project drink. :D


LisaBit said...

Remember how I saw the bar tender at N&T straining something for your drink? I'm wondering if he shook it all up then poured the drink into your glass through fine mesh, letting all the heavy liquid fall through, then scooping the remaining foam into the top of the drink. Might account for the difference in foam weight.

Sean said...

Hmm. The foam is a lot like meringue, so I'm betting that things that help make that would also help here. So, let the whites get to room temp and then beat with a touch of the lemon juice.