I haven’t posted anything for the last couple of Mixology Mondays. My excuse in April was being on holiday and having no access to Champagne. It seems it isn’t a popular drink in the remoter parts of Western China. I didn’t have a very good excuse in May since I was already back in New Zealand by that stage. All I can say is that I still hadn’t got around to setting up a bar in my apartment and the idea of tequila drinks didn’t inspire me enough to make me rush out and go shopping.
This month my bar is more or less functional and the theme is cream, a theme which seems very doable. Most of the drinks that spring to mind immediately are sweet affairs involving actual cream plus “Crème de XXX” type liqueurs. I’m thinking things like Brandy Alexanders, Grasshoppers, and so on. Don’t laugh about the Grasshopper. A Grasshopper can be quite nice, and it is one of the few drinks I can think of where I find a touch of vodka improves things – reducing the sweetness, smoothing out the texture, and adding a little punch. My bar is still a bit short on the “Crème de XXX” family though.
Instead of doing the obvious then I decided to make a cream-including drink that I’ve been meaning to make for a long time but have never been able to because of the lack of a vital ingredient. That ingredient is orange flower water (I could never find it in Shanghai), and the drink of course is the Ramos Gin Fizz. Think of a Ramos Gin Fizz as a refreshing palette cleanser after some of the sweeter offerings this Mixology Monday.
Orange flower water is easy to find in Auckland and should not be a problem in most big cities. Try trawling the specialist food stores. I only managed to find Middle Eastern stuff while out looking on Saturday. I hear the French stuff is better, but the Middle Eastern stuff will do for now.
The Ramos Gin Fizz is an invention of 19th Century New Orleans. It isn’t the type of drink you can just expect to roll on up to a bar these days and order, and I guess that makes it just my type of thing. For a little history of the drink just check out the Gumbo Pages. There seem to be a bunch of different recipes floating around. I slightly modified recipes from the Gumbo Pages and The Art of Drink.
Both recipes had features I liked so I ended up combining the two. My recipe was:
2 oz gin (Tanqueray)
1/2 oz lemon juice
½ oz lime juice
1 teaspoon sugar
1 egg white
2 oz cream
1 dash orange flower water
Technique is everything when you are building a fluffy, creamy fizz so pay attention to the next bit.
I put the egg white, orange flower water, cream and syrup in an empty shaker and shook for a half a minute or so to get the egg frothy. Now I have seen people suggest you throw a fork or miniature whisk into the shaker while doing this to help it froth up. That sounds like it would be noisy and scratch your shaker and stuff so I didn’t bother*. A better suggestion would probably be to do like Darcy at the Art of Drink and froth the mix with an immersion blender. If I had had a blender handy I’d have tried that. Although more traditional recipes doesn’t call for an initial frothing, getting the froth going before you start adding ice and generally diluting things makes sense to me. In my ‘experiments’ (OK, so I accidentally left the cream out of one drink) I found the egg frothed much better without cream. So frothing the egg, flower water and syrup, then adding cream, gin and juices, could be another possibility.
In any case, after getting some froth going I added the juices and gin, gave a quick stir to stop curdling, packed the shaker with ice, and began a long shake. I remember hearing somewhere that when making a Ramos Fizz you should shake for 20 seconds or so, tap the shaker on the counter, twist the shaker 90 degrees, shake, tap, and twist again, and so on until you have completed a full circle. Something like that anyway. I think this is supposed to help build a nice fluffy drink that pours easily out of the shaker. Who knows how well this really works? This whole routine could simply be a way to encourage people to shake the drink long enough to build a good head. I don’t see it can do much harm though, so I’m going to do it this way until I can be bothered making two drinks, one with and one without the ‘turn’, and seeing if there is any difference between them. After shaking I poured a little soda (1-2 oz) into a Collins glass (an undersized one is best since this drink has no ice), strained the drink in, and gave a gentle stir. Darcy at the Art of Drink suggests adding the drink to a soda filled glass rather than vice versa, and I think this make sense if you want a nice head. The final step is to drink the thing.
I found the drink unusual and very refreshing. It poured with a nice foamy texture and tasted almost too innocent to be a cocktail. Give this one to the neighborhood children and observe the fun! The texture is probably something I could improve on with practice, but I was still pleased with my first attempt. I don’t think there is too much to it provided you take a little care. The taste was perhaps a little too sour and with only the faintest hint of orange. Comparing the Gumbo Pages and The Art of Drink recipes, the Gumbo pages is much the sourer of the two, with less sugar and an extra ½ oz of citrus juice. I might try increasing the sugar and reducing the juice a little in future. When making this drink you will also need to play around with the quantity of orange flower water depending on its potency. With my brand (Al-Rabih from Lebanon) I figure a generous half teaspoon is called for. Finally, although the drink is called a ‘fizz’ I can’t see it turning out especially fizzy unless you dilute it with lot of soda water – surely a bad idea. I am thinking the fizz in the name indicates just enough gentle carbonation to cut the heaviness of the cream and egg white. The only way I can see of achieving more fizz than this would be if you used some kind of super carbonated soda water. Does such a thing even exist? It would be interesting to know though just how carbonated this drink it supposed to be. I have seen recipes that suggest shaking with soda water, but I would have thought you lose carbonation this way.
A friend in LA was chatting with me online as I was making the drink, waxing lyrical about Hendricks, and he distracted me enough that I finished my drink without photographing it. Never mind, his talk of Hendricks gave me the idea of making a rose flower water flavored variation of the Ramos Gin Fizz, so I decided I’d photograph that instead.
Incidentally my friend told me that he learned bartending at a school run by a guy who used to be Frank Sinatra’s bartender. The story goes that Frank Sinatra would drink Ramos Gin Fizzes on Sundays instead of his usual Jack Daniels. I guess that made the Ramos Gin Fizz an appropriate choice for my Sunday evening drink.
For the rose water flavored variation I repeated the above recipe but using Hendricks as the gin (as everyone must know Hendricks is flavored subtly with rose petals) and substituting rose water for the orange flower water. I guess this variation can be called a Rose Fizz – at least until someone comes up with a witty name involving roses, dairy products, fizzy gin and cucumbers.
The rose water was from a company called English Provender and seemed stronger than the orange flower water I had just used. I only added a scant 1/4 teaspoon.
The Rose Fizz worked out well. I figure this would make a nice substitution if you like the Ramos Gin Fizz but fancy a change. I decided substituting grenadine for all or some of the sugar syrup would give the drink an attractive rosy hue so I tried making it this way on Monday morning. Hey, I had no work to do and I figured I needed to rush and make the thing before Mixology Monday began in the US. Of course after going online to post this thing I realized I was a week early. Never mind. The grenadine version tasted and looked good. I used 1 ½ teaspoons of grenadine plus 1 ½ teaspoons of simple syrup. Everything else was the same as in the recipe above.
Right now I’m also considering an almondy gin fizz with orgeat as the sweetener and a big splash of orange flower water – to stand up to the almond taste. Hmm. . . I’m not going to make that straight away but will try it sometime.
* I’ve since learned removing the coil from a hawthorne strainer and putting that in the shaker during the dry shake gets great results.