It was in Charleston that I discovered the queen of American cocktails. I was there for the weekend, and after dinner we walked past little cocktail bar called the Gin Joint. The lush garden patio was as tempting as the name, and we stopped in. I ordered a drink that the joint called a New Orleans Gin Fizz. It was like nothing I had ever tasted. Light and creamy and citrusy and oh-so-smooth. I was hooked. The only problem? The Ramos Gin Fizz (as I soon discovered it is most commonly known today) is not the fastest drink to make, plus it contains raw egg whites. This means that it is almost impossible to find outside of its native New Orleans. The solution? Make your own.
Henry Ramos invented the fizz that now bears his name in 1888. It became so popular, that his bar employed a line of ‘shaker boys’ who would muscle these cocktails for 12 minutes each. The shaking whips the cream and egg whites into a meringue that rises above the glass after it’s topped with soda. Yes, it looks hard, and before this, the most complicated cocktail I had ever mastered was a margarita. But, determination brings results, and I actually created a delicious concoction on my first attempt. You can too.
2 oz. gin
1 oz. simple syrup
½ oz. fresh lemon juice
½ oz. fresh lime juice
1 egg white (pasteurized if desired)
2 oz. heavy cream
3 drops orange flower water
Chilled club soda
- All all ingredients except for soda to the cocktail shaker.
- Dry shake for 30 seconds.
- Add several cubes of ice. (I use three large square ice cubes.)
- Shake vigorously for about 5 minutes, until you no longer hear the ice clanking against the sides of the shaker.
- Pour into collins glass, filling to about a half inch below the rim. Wait 1-2 minutes.
- Pour soda very slowly into glass. The foam will rise above the glass, but if you pour slowly enough, it shouldn’t overflow.
Most recipes call for Old Tom Gin, but my local store doesn’t carry it so I use Tanqueray. The orange flower water is the most difficult item on the list to find, and for ages I didn’t make the drink because no one seemed to have it. Finally, it occurred to me to look on Amazon, and there it was.
For the cocktail shaker, I recently bought the super-affordable Double-Walled Boston Cocktail Shaker from Williams-Sonoma. The insulation keeps condensation from forming and freezing my hands, which was a huge problem with my old one. This drink has to be shaken too darn long to deal with that. Please note you do not need to strain this cocktail. Just shake until the ice is gone. If you don’t have a collins glass, a highball glass will do, but use a smallish one if you can. I love the Strauss Cooler Glass from Crate and Barrel.
I hope you enjoy your trip to gin milkshake heaven.