The Ramos Gin Fizz isn’t the original, but it is a New Orleans original. A weird concoction involving egg white, cream, and something called orange flower water, it is a creation that, on paper, makes absolutely no sense but it comes together beautifully. And in that sense, it really is very much a New Orleans creation.
Walker Percy tells a story from medical school where he and a nurse are on a date and he orders a gin fizz – not in New Orleans but Boo Snooker bar in the New Yorker hotel in 1941. Probably to look sophisticated in front of his date. You can take one look at the thing and see that it has cream in it, but the egg white was a surprise, as he was allergic. His front lip began to stick out to where he could barely speak, much less deliver a serviceable smooch. His eyes swelled shut and then, summoning all his brawny male energy, promptly fainted. The nurse, being a nurse, drove him to Bellevue and gave the poor boy a shot.
Do sort out your personal relationship with egg whites first.
Created by Carl Ramos in 1888 at the Imperial Cabinet Saloon, reportedly he employed several men behind the bar just to shake them – for 12 to 15 minutes. I don’t know about that. New Orleans barman Chris Hannah says that 25-45 seconds will do – which is longer than you think.
Light and frothy, this is one of those jazz brunch drinks, but unlike the bloody mary I’m not sure I’d want to eat it with anything. There is, in taste, something of a meringue, with the club soda lightening things up in the glass. If you’ve got a meringue texture, you’ve gone too far with the shaking.
While everyone is trying to put their own twist on classics, I wouldn’t monkey with the recipe. It’s so well put together that the whole thing might fall apart if you tinker with it. Even the Orange Flower Water has its place. I understand that this is hard to find, but my local shop, Buster’s, has it handy.
The trick is small glasses. If you’ve got collins glasses, fine. Pint glasses won’t do. For one thing, like the martini, you want it to stay cold. This is a delicate sipper, and you can’t really make a batch beforehand. Yes, it’s labor intensive but a lot of things worth doing are: a grilled steak, charbroiled oysters, etc. Besides, what’s wrong with a little effort when you have something special, interesting and just a little off-kilter?
If you are allergic to egg whites, avoid. As Dr. Percy would attest, there is nothing sophisticated about anaphylactic reactions. To wit:
Ramos Gin Fizz
2 oz gin
.75 oz simple syrup
.5 oz heavy cream
.5 oz lemon juice
.5 oz lime juice
3 dashes Orange Flower Water
1 fresh egg white
Club soda, chilled, as a topper
The gin, simple syrup, cream lemon & lime juice, orange flower water, egg white go into a shaker without ice. Shake like a British nanny for 10-15 seconds.
Add ice and shake for another 20-30 seconds.
Strain into a Collins (or smaller) glass, and use chilled club soda to rinse the inside of the shaker and pour on as a topper. I found another recipe that called for putting the club soda in with the shake to keep it from separating, which works better.