To Add Egg Whites Or Not To Add Egg Whites.
Historically speaking, if a cocktail was a simple sour, it did not have egg whites. Yes, there were cocktails like the clover club or pink lady that had egg whites, or you can go back even further to the Fizz-style cocktails from the 1880s that had egg whites. But not until the early 1950s am I able to find anyone using egg whites in a cocktail labeled a Sour. Sour cocktails before the 1950s that used egg whites in this way all seemed to have fun names and were presented as cocktails for the ladies. In the 1930s or 40s, if a man ordered a whiskey sour and were handed one with egg whites, he would probably be offended or think the bartender mixed his drink up with some women’s at the bar. I looked through maybe 100+ books ranging from the 1880s to the late 1960s, which was pretty consistently what I found.
The earliest use of egg whites in a standard sour I could find was from King Cocktail by Eddie Clark. In 1947 Eddie Clark was the successor head bartender to Harry Craddock at the Savoy. The 1955 official British Bartenders union cocktail book, The UKBG, also mentions using egg whites in sours, but both books say they are optional and not traditional. Assumedly egg whites were added upon request and not the usual way a whiskey sour was made. Keep in mind Harry Craddock, 1920 – the 40s, did not make his sours with egg whites. All those cocktails had different fun names. Eddie Clark even grouped those fun cocktails in his book’s “For ladies only” section.
How To Get Great Foam On Cocktails With Egg Whites.
Egg Whites are challenging to get right in cocktails. Everyone struggles with them at some point, and bartenders search for any way to make whipping them into a fluffy meringue easier. Henry Ramos hired “shaker boys” to shake for him. Some use the dry shake or reverse dry shake, others swear by only using one large ice cube, and some say you have to shake till your arms fall off. The method I like is called the Saxe Shake, and De Forest Saxe invented it in the 1880s.
The Saxe Shake is largely unknown in the cocktail world because De Forest Saxe was a soda fountain operator in Chicago, Illinois. His 1890 book “Saxe’s New Guide Hints to Soda Water Dispensers” details his shaking technique for egg drinks that produces the best foam and can be accomplished with minimal effort. Saxe states to shake drinks with eggs with only one chestnut-sized ice cube. An Ice cube from a standard ice tray is about chestnut-sized, so one or two small cubes will work. Then shake until the ice fully melts, and pour into the serving glass without straining. The small amount of ice is just enough to cool and dilute the drink, and since there are no remaining bits of ice left in the shaker, there is nothing to strain. Passing the mixture through a strainer destroys most of the bubbles you worked so hard to make. As you add soda water, the escaping carbon dioxide fills the tiny bubbles in the drink, forcing them to expand and form a large fluffy foam. Give it a try. Using the Saxe Shake, I have turned out Ramos Gin Fizzes as fast and efficiently as any other shaken cocktail with excellent results.