Rattlesnake – Original Recipe & History

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Rattlesnake
Rattlesnake

What Does The Rattlesnake Taste Like?

This tastes very similar to a whiskey sour with egg whites. They taste almost the same, but the small addition of absinthe does add an excellent herbal profile to the cocktail. If you like sours and herbal flavors, this is one to try. The Savoy Cocktail Book claimed it was so strong it could cure a rattlesnake bite, but it’s not that intense, it’s pretty lovely, and I would say an improvement over the standard whiskey sour.

A Short History Of The American Bar at the Savoy Hotel In London.

In 1893, The American Bar at the Savoy hotel started serving American-style cocktails in London to the British upper class. The American Bar has always been a high-end bar but what set it on the map was when Harry Craddock became its head bartender in the 1920s. Harry Craddock was a British-born bartender who immigrated to the United States, eventually becoming a US citizen and head bartender of several high-end hotel bars. Still, Harry found himself out of work with the start of prohibition in 1920. He then immigrated back to England and became head bartender of the Savoy Hotel’s Bar. Harry transformed The American Bar from a high-end bar to one of the seminal cocktail bars of the 20th century. As the American prohibition was ending, the hotel realized it should record all of its most famous recipes and the innovations Harry brought to the bar. A year later, they published the Savoy Cocktail Book. Printed in 1934, the Savoy Cocktail Book documents the bar’s best recipes from the 1890s to the 1930s and stands as the pillar of prohibition-era European cocktail innovation. If Jerry Thomas’s Bartenders Guide is the best cocktail book the 1800s gave us, then The Savoy Cocktail Book is the best cocktail book of the first half of the 1900s. I don’t think I will ever be able to drink there, though. A cocktail cost around $250 there, and they have one that’s almost $1000, and I’m not the Amazon guy, so good thing we have their recipe book.

How To Get Egg White Right In Cocktails.

Cocktails with egg whites are difficult cocktails to get right, and anyone who says otherwise is projecting a false image. Everyone who has made a fizz has had one of these pops open on them while shaking, only to make a mess. The best advice I can pass on to making any fizz cocktail is it comes down to 2 things; Technique and chemistry. A common technique that works very well is using a dry shake. A dry shake is shaking all your ingredients together without ice first to make forming the foam easier. The foam will still form with ice, but you will work twice as hard for half the result if you shake with ice first. The first shake is only about 20-30 seconds of vigorous shaking, but this is the part that forms most of your foam. A little tip here is to wrap a kitchen towel around the seal of your shaker because no matter how strong you are or how tight your grip, it will pop open a little. As the egg whites unfold, they can expand up to 8x their original size, thus increasing the pressure inside the shaker and forcing small amounts of the sugary egg mix to squirt out. Wrapping a small towel around the shaker will catch this and keep things clean.

Next and more important is chemistry. You have to get the science right for egg whites to foam properly. Denaturing/unfolding egg protein into a meringue is more science than brawn, and a friend of mine who is a baker once gave me this advice for how she made meringue at the bakery.

  1. Keep it room temperature.
  2. Use an acid to help break the proteins hydrogen bonds and unfold it in addition to beating it.
  3. Use sugar to stabilize the foam from collapsing and to form smaller bubbles.

A mistake I made for a long time was using eggs fresh from the fridge. Even if I’m doing a dry shake, I’m still starting with cold ingredients. So take the eggs out and let them come to room temperature first. Cold egg protein is much more stable and difficult to break apart than if it is at room temperature. The next tip is to use acid. Bakers will use cream of tartar as the acid helps accelerate the denaturing process along with beating it. In the cocktail, we use lemon or lime juice. It is much, much harder to form a foam without using an acid. The last bit of advice is to use sugar to stabilize the foamed protein from collapsing. A sweet liqueur alone isn’t enough. I’ve tried making fizzes with just liqueurs for sweeter alone, and they have never formed a good foam. This needs real simple syrup. If you don’t use sugar in your Fizz, what will happen is the foam will develop, but it will collapse back into the liquid just as fast, and you will be left with a thin layer of lame bubbles on top. It will still taste the same and be good, but that beautiful foam will be gone, and for these drinks, the large foam head is the garnish. The sugar makes the water “wetter” and helps keep the suspended air inside from combining into larger bubbles. This helps form a smoother micro bubble foam.

Cocktails with egg whites are some of the most elegant and sublime cocktails, but they are not the easiest to make. Eventually, you can get to a point where you can make them correctly and consistently, but it can take a while and many failed attempts. Hopefully, the tips I gave help shorten that journey. There are a lot of tips and tricks out there for making fizzes, and I tried to keep mine reasonable and realistic, but see what works for you. I’ve been doing this for a long time, and still, I have the occasional one that doesn’t foam up well, even though I make them all the same. It’s just the nature of the egg sometimes, and I accept it and make it again.

Recipe Resources

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Rattlesnake

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Course: DrinksCuisine: British
Servings

1

servings
Calories

231

kcal
ABV

23%

Total time

3

minutes

Learn how to make the a classic Rattlesnake Cocktail.

Ingredients

  • 1 whole Egg White

  • 2 dashes Absinthe

  • 1/2 oz Lemon Juice

  • 1/2 oz Simple Syrup

  • 2 oz Scotch

Directions

  • Combine all ingredients in the shaker without any ice. Shake dry for 30 second – egg foams better when it is not cold.
  • Now add ice to the shaker. Vigorously shake again till the shaker is ice cold and frosted.
  • Strain into glass to remove ice shards.

Notes

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