Last week, I covered a great drink that takes a little while to make properly, the Daiquiri. In so doing, I mentioned the other great drink that takes a long time to make well, the Ramos Gin Fizz... and then swept it under the rug. Sure enough, a commenter noticed what I did, and asked why I gave it short shrift. I love the Ramos enough that it deserves its own article, not a footnote after the Daiquiri. Concerned Drinker, your patience has paid off.
The Ramos Fizz is one of the finest things out of New Orleans, right up there with Dixieland jazz and the Muffuletta sandwich. At brunch, it's better than mimosas. It has light soda bubbles, tangy citrus, smooth cream, velvety egg white, and intriguing botanical notes from orange flower water and gin.
And it's a royal pain in the ass to make.
It's the damned egg white. It gives the drink a downright seductive texture. Without it, a Ramos Fizz is just a Tom Collins with a splash of cream. Problem is, you have to shake the absolute bejeezus out of the drink to get the egg white to fully emulsify. How long, you ask? A full minute of hard shaking. Your arms feel like they're going to fall off two thirds of the way through. Then you add ice and shake it for another twenty seconds. To make it worse, since there's no ice in the shaker on the first shake, you don't get as good of a seal on the shaker. You get lightly sprayed with what you'd rather drink. What to do?
There is a simple way around this: Cheat. I'm pretty sure that scrupulous bartenders everywhere are giving me the stink eye for saying this, but the drink comes out better and faster if you employ a mechanical device. I prefer a milkshake machine. It does a great job in a few seconds. If you don't have counter space for one, a battery operated milk frother does the job in half the time of a hand shake. I'm sure the name-brand Aerolatte frother does a great job (for $19.99 it had darn well better), but IKEA sells a cheap knockoff for only three bucks. And there's always a blender, which mix it so fast I feel like I'm cheating too much.
Old Tom gin (an old variety of sweetened gin) is better here; if you have some, use it in place of the regular gin, and omit the simple syrup. Eggs were smaller when the Ramos Gin Fizz was invented, so you might as well make two drinks at once instead of trying to split an egg white. And yes, this drink uses raw egg white. Use pasteurized eggs (or liquid egg whites) to avert risk; I live on the edge for this one. There's no substitute for the orange flower water; not orange liqueur, and definitely not orange juice. You can find it at Middle Eastern grocers, or large liquor stores.
You're certainly still welcome to hand-shake your Ramos Gin Fizz if you feel it's more proper. But while you're still shaking like mad, I'll be sitting down to brunch with mine.
Ramos Gin Fizz 1 egg white ½ ounce simple syrup 1 ounce fresh lime juice 1 ounce fresh lemon juice 3 or 4 drops orange flower water 2 ounces gin 1 ounce cream Club soda
Whiz everything together with your mechanical device until well blended, or shake extra-extra-hard for a full minute. Add ice, and shake until well chilled. Split between two chilled large Champagne flutes (or Collins glasses). Top with an ounce or two of chilled soda.