…from the California Happy Hour Bar
How you doin’? Here’s a pretty little cocktail with a thick frothy head served in a Collins glass with a long and distinguished history. I first discovered this “original” drink at Alta Mira Hotel and Restaurant (now closed) which featured it for Sunday Brunch. However, like many other cocktail origin stories this one is shrouded in murky lore.
While Alta Mira claimed the invention, a little research proved it was first mixed in 1888 by Henry Charles “Carl” Ramos (thus the name) at the Imperial Cabinet Saloon in New Orleans. Along with drinks like the Sazerac, the Ramos Gin Fizz is still one of the city’s most identifiable cocktails. It has stood the test of time and is still being mixed by barmasters today. My bartenders had a love-hate relationship with this frothy classic. Most bartenders hate frou-frou cocktails because they take so much time to make and clean-up after, but a Ramos Gin Fizz looks and tastes great and always garnered good tips.
The original recipe combines gin, citrus, simple syrup, egg white, heavy cream, orange flower water and club soda… a delicious array of flavors and textures. The gin used is important—you want to use a neutral-flavored gin like Beefeater’s. Ramos himself used Old Tom Gin which was fashionable in his time and provided a good neutral base for the cocktail. The sugar and citrus add balanced sweet-tart notes while the heavy cream imparts richness, and the egg white creates the fizzy mouthfeel. The orange flower water adds a light floral note and the sparkling water lightens the drink, adding a touch of effervescence making it perfect for Sunday Brunch.
Shaking-up the egg whites to create the fizz is the most important part of this cocktail. Some people claim that Mr. Ramos employed a chain of “shaker men” in his bar to meet the constant demand from his customers. Supposedly, each drink was shaken for between 12 and 15 minutes, which we can all agree is a lot of minutes. That was for show.
Don’t let that put you off, most bartenders can shake their Fizzes between 25 and 45 seconds. You can use the more contemporary dry-shake method. Try agitating the filled shaker for 10 seconds without ice and then giving it another vigorous shake for 15 seconds with ice to get the proper chilling and dilution. The result is a perfectly mixed Ramos Gin Fizz with a foamy head that’s the right amount of frothy, thick fizz.
2 ounces gin
3/4 ounce simple syrup
1/2 ounce heavy cream
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
3 dashes orange flower water
1 fresh egg white (read warning below)
Chilled Club soda, to top it off or for a stronger drink I sometimes use Champagne
lemon or lime slice for garnish
Raw Egg Warning: Consuming raw eggs poses a slight risk of food-borne illness. You can substitute 2 tablespoons of aquafaba (liquid from a can of chickpeas) or the equivalized amount of Vor Faba Foamer (powdered cocktail foamer available from Amazon) if you are concerned about food safety or to make a vegan variation that will fizz.
ChefSecret: Everyone later found out one of the reasons that the Alta Mira sold so many Ramos Fizz cocktails and no one ever seem to get even slightly buzzed was the chose to omit the gin in their phony, frou-frou cocktails.
Quip of the Day: What do you get if you cover your cat in a mixture of sugar and egg white and throw it out into the ocean? A cat-a-meringue!
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