History Of The Ramos Gin Fizz.
The most accurate history and recipe for the Ramos Gin Fizz comes from Stanley Arthur’s 1938 book “Famous New Orleans Drinks and how to mix ’em”. Arthur gets his recipe from Paul Alpuente, a bartender who worked with Henry Ramos before prohibition. Henry Ramos moved to New Orleans from Baton Rouge in 1888, bringing his famous Ramos Gin Fizz with him. Ramos bought the Imperial Cabinet on the corner of Gravier and Carondelet. He began selling his version of a gin fizz in the building’s second-story restaurant, The Old Hickory.
Eggs in cocktails were nothing new, but the inclusion of heavy cream and orange blossom water set Henry Ramos’s gin fizz apart. These two ingredients were unusual in fizz cocktails and not commonly used in bars, but they were common in sodas. Many soda fountains of the mid to late 1800s would include heavy creams to make cream sodas, and orange blossom water was not an unusual ingredient either. No one knows for sure, but he likely incorporated these ingredients from the soda fountain to create his iconic fizz.
Ramos stayed at The Old Hickory till 1907, when he purchased “The Stag” saloon. At the height of The Stag’s popularity, there were stories of patrons waiting an hour for a Gin Fizz, and the bar employed 35 “shaker boys” whose only job was to shake drinks. Now keep in mind that the Ramos Gin Fizz is notorious for being difficult to make, as most egg cocktails are, but some of this may have been theatrics.
On the eve of prohibition going into effect, the story goes that at the stroke of midnight on January 16, 1920, Henry Ramos was asked to make his last gin fizz, and after he served, it closed the bar and proclaimed to everyone, “I’ve sold my last Gin Fizz.” He never made another cocktail again and died in 1928. Five years before, the prohibition would be repealed with the 21st amendment.
What Does The Ramos Gin Fizz Taste Like?
The Ramos Gin Fizz is a fantastic cocktail and tastes like a warm creamy, citrusy flower. Like a desert drink meets a refreshing soda. I have included the optional vanilla extract in the list of ingredients. While it is not traditional, according to Stanley Arthur, he seems to imply that it makes the drink exponentially better. Of course, Arthur would know what was traditional too. The recipe he provides in his 1938 book is from former bartenders at The Stag, who had first-hand knowledge of making the drink with Henry Ramos. He includes the optional vanilla extract stating that bartenders almost come to blows over whether to add it, but it was a popular ingredient in the 1930s that took the drink over the top.
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.