Serious Eats: Drinks

Cocktails and Spirits with Paul Clarke: Eggs (Whites and Yolks) in Cocktails

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Fort Washington Flip [Photo: Robyn Lee]

In response to my Wednesday post, "Should the Health Department Crack Down on Raw Eggs in Cocktails?" a few commenters expressed surprise that raw eggs made their way into drinks in the first place. Perhaps some explanation is needed, along with an example to get you started.

Eggs can perform several functions in a drink. For drinks such as eggnog or flips, whole eggs provide body and richness, along with a silky texture that softens the initial impact of the booze on your palate and a stomach-filling property that can also soften the liquor's initial impact on your system.

Whole eggs are not unusual in drinks dating back to the 18th century or earlier—a time when the consumption of spirits was known to take place at most anytime of day, so the nutritional qualities of the egg were also of some value.

There are also drinks that use the unique properties of egg whites, which lend a buoyant foam and silky texture, adding a bit of extra body to a drink. Egg whites also bring some sparkle from the tiny bubbles trapped in what's essentially a liquor-laden meringue.

This foam can form a cushiony surface for a drink, perfect for bearing an aromatic ingredient such as a few dashes of bitters atop a Pisco Sour, or an elegant-looking buffer for the sharper flavors of citrus and spirits in drinks such as the Clover Club.

Here's another drink that can fit into either category: the Silver Fizz. Fizzes were introduced as morning drinks in the 19th century, eye-opening hangover remedies with the added benefit of a bit of egg white to help it all go down. It's simply a Tom Collins chilled and shaken with egg white, served without ice (fizzes are designed to be consumed fairly quickly, not lingered over for a half-hour).

The Silver Fizz is crisp and alluring, even if you're not into gin. The recipe works just as well with a whiskey or rum substitution and for additional pizazz, you can dash some bitters atop the foam to lend a heady fragrance and a final burst of flavor at the end.

Notes on Mixing a Fizz

About the author: Paul Clarke blogs about cocktails at The Cocktail Chronicles and writes regularly on spirits and cocktails for Imbibe magazine. He lives in Seattle, where he works as a writer and magazine editor.

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