The History Of The Fizz
The Oldest reference I can find of the Violet Fizz is from the 1895 Book Modern American Drinks by George Kappeler. His original version calls for raspberry syrup instead of creme de violette. Although most later versions call for creme de violette instead and it does make for a better drink. Fizz cocktails don’t appear until the 1880s when they are first printed in Jerry Thomas’s 1887 edition of the Bartenders guide and sadly they never really caught on as a style or left the United States. They have anywhere from 5 to 8 different ingredients, they take time to make, and they are difficult to make right. These are qualities bartenders don’t want to deal with, especially on a busy night. They have their place but typically only is very high end bars that can afford bartenders skilled enough and tend to run at a slower pace. The last detail to date this cocktail is the creme de violette. Creme de violette stopped being imported into the United States at the start of prohibition and never returned till 2007.
What Does A Violet Fizz Taste Like
The violet fizz is one of the most amazing cocktails I have ever tasted in my life. It taste like an aviation in fizz form with the creme de violette being even more subtle. The old Tom (which also dates the drink) provides a nice sweet gin flavor to the cocktail that dry gin wouldn’t. Imagine drinking a gentle violet meringue gin dessert.
THE MOST IMPORTANT INGREDIENT
Fizzes are actually 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 pop 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 the 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 end up working 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. For a fizz to properly foam you have to get the science right. 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.
- Keep it room temperature.
- Use an acid to help break the proteins hydrogen bonds and unfold it in addition to beating it.
- Use sugar to stabilize the foam from collapsing and to form smaller bubbles.
A mistake I made for a long time is using is using eggs fresh from the fridge. Even if I’m doing a dry shake I’m still starting off 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 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. Without using an acid it is much much harder to form a foam. 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 actual simple syrup. If you don’t use sugar in your Fizz what will happen is the foam will form but it will collapse back into the liquid-y cocktail 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 also somehow makes the water “wetter” and helps keep the suspended air inside from combining into larger bubbles. This helps form a smoother micro bubble head.
Fizzes 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. Also theres 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 exact same. Its just the nature of the egg sometimes and I just accept it and make it again.