If you've visited a self-regarding cocktail joint in the past year or two, you might have seen the bartender break an egg on the side of a shaker and drop the yolk or white in and found yourself thinking, "You're putting that in my drink?" In fact, drinking egg cocktails is an American tradition, especially during the holidays. On Christmas Day and New Year's Eve in the 19th century, men used to stumble between their neighbors' homes, sampling the house eggnogs until they could barely stand. Colonial Americans drank what they called a flip—a powerful mixture of rum, ale, sugar, and eggs poured between two pitchers. At the turn of the 20th century, the Ramos Gin Fizz was such a hit in New Orleans that the drink's inventor, Henry C. Ramos, employed lines of "shaker boys" to keep up with demand. These days, eggs are playing a big role in the cocktail-revival movement, but be warned: Making an egg-white cocktail is tricky—our masters of mixology walk you through the process and provide a few of their favorite recipes.
The key to executing a successful egg cocktail is adding a step known as a "dry" or "mime" shake. Once you've measured and poured all the ingredients into the shaker, add the whole egg or egg white and vigorously shake, without ice, for five to eight seconds. This allows the mixture to emulsify and inflates the egg white, permitting air to slip between the protein molecules, producing that signature frothy texture. Open the shaker, add the ice, and shake again, harder and longer than you normally would: If you can feel the metal icing up under your hands, that's a good indication that you're about done. A conical double strainer (barproducts.com) will catch fruit pulp and smaller shards of ice.
"Using fresh eggs is a must," says Jim Meehan, owner of PDT in New York City. "The fresher the egg, the better the texture you'll get in your drink."
LESS IS MORE
"With egg whites, more isn't always better," says James Hensley, a bartender at the Patterson House in Nashville. "Too much egg white can make for a weak-tasting drink. The more egg white you put in the drink, the more sweeteners and citrus ingredients you need to fill out the flavor profile. I find one half to three quarters of an ounce of egg white is plenty in most any cocktail."
Silver Fizz: with an egg white
Golden Fizz: with an egg yolk
Royal Fizz: with a whole egg
"The most important thing to remember with egg-white drinks is to garnish the finished product," says Maksym Pazuniak, of the Counting Room in Brooklyn. "Egg-white foam has a great texture and is pretty to look at, but it smells terrible, so you really need to hit it with some citrus oil or a couple of drops of bitters."
2 oz Heering cherry liqueur
½ oz Bittermens Xocolatl Mole Bitters
1 whole egg
Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Dry shake, shake with ice, strain over a large ice chunk, and garnish with 3 drops of mole bitters.
Courtesy of Maksym Pazuniak, Counting Room, Brooklyn
1½ oz Plymouth gin or Hayman's Old Tom gin
½ oz lemon juice
½ oz dry vermouth
½ oz raspberry syrup
1 egg white
Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Dry shake, shake with ice, strain into cocktail glass, and serve straight up.
Courtesy of Al Sotack, the Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co., Philadelphia
2 oz Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout
1½ oz Cruzan Black Strap rum
½ oz demerara syrup
1 whole organic egg
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass and swirl to decarbonate beer. Dry shake, shake with ice, and strain into a chilled fizz glass. Garnish with grated nutmeg.
Courtesy of Jim Meehan, PDT, New York City
2 oz Famous Grouse scotch
½ oz Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
¾ oz lemon juice
¾ oz simple syrup
1 egg white
5 drops Fee Brothers Old Fashion Aromatic Bitters
Combine ingredients, except the bitters, in a cocktail shaker. Dry shake, shake with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and carefully add the bitters.
Courtesy of James Hensley, the Patterson House, Nashville
The Notorious F.L.I.P.
1½ oz Smith & Cross Traditional Jamaican Rum
½ oz Amaro Nardini
1 oz Bonal
¾ oz demerara syrup
1 whole egg
Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Dry shake, shake with ice, strain into a fizz glass, and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.
Courtesy of Michael Rubel, the Violet Hour, Chicago