Henry Charles “Carl” Ramos created this timeless classic in the late 1880s. He ran the Imperial Cabinet Saloon and the Stag Saloon in New Orleans from 1887 to 1918. And at these two places his gin fizz was born and immortalized. It was said that he employed “shakermen” – people whose only job was to shake this legend of a cocktail. One man would start the shaking and pass the tin once his arms were tired. Perhaps a little excessive, but what a sight that would be.
On the eve of Prohibition, instead of keeping his recipe a secret, Ramos told everyone how to make it. He reached into the future by dictating his recipe to a reporter for the New Orleans Item-Tribune a few years before he died in the late 1920s.
In the original recipe, Old Tom gin, powdered sugar, lemon and lime juice, an egg white, orange flower water, club soda, cream and crushed ice are added to the shaker at once, shaken “until there is not a bubble left” and poured into a large Collins glass. The finished drink should have the consistency of rich milk, be a little tart and be the color of snow. It has been fabled that this takes anywhere from two to 15 minutes of shaking to achieve. However, I’ve made hundreds of these while shaking for only 45 seconds to one minute at best, and they turned out just fine. The recipe I use is a modified version of the original. I use simple syrup in lieu of powdered sugar, and I substitute London Dry gin to offset the heightened sweetness. I also add the club soda after shaking, which is common nowadays.
It’s important to use only three dashes of orange flower water in this recipe and not a dash more. Orange flower water is a distillation of fresh bitter orange blossoms and water. Traditionally used in Middle Eastern cooking, it’s also found in French and Mediterranean sweets and desserts. It is also often used to mask the flavor of foul-tasting drinking water. There are a few brands on the market, and I recommend Cortas. It has an incredible aroma, and the flavor is potent. A little goes a long way in this drink.
Ramos Gin Fizz
Serves | 1 |
- 2 oz Broker’s London Dry Gin
- 1 oz simple syrup
- 1 oz heavy cream
- ½ oz fresh lime juice
- ½ oz fresh lemon juice
- 1 egg white
- 3 dashes orange flower water
- 1 oz club soda
| Preparation | Combine all ingredients except soda in a shaker. Dry shake for 7 seconds. Add ice and shake vigorously for 45 to 60 seconds. Strain into a Collins glass. Dump the ice from the shaker and add club soda. Swirl the soda in the tin quickly until a frothy foam forms. Pour the liquid into the Collins glass and spoon the foam on top of the drink, creating a “mountain of snow-white goodness.”
Working with eggs: Raw eggs have been an important ingredient in cocktails for centuries, with countless cocktails containing egg whites, egg yolks and whole eggs. In addition to the Ramos Gin Fizz, you’ll find eggs in the Clover Club, Clover Leaf, Coffee Cocktail, Delicious Sour, Silver Fizz, Golden Fizz and Morning Glory Fizz.
Egg whites bring a creamier texture and a frothy head to cocktails. Egg yolks add a silky richness, like that of melted chocolate, that you can’t get from any other ingredient. And whole eggs offer the best of both – rich creaminess with a frothy head. When used in a cocktail, eggs don’t impart an egg-y flavor but rather help blend the flavors of other ingredients beautifully and tame any flavors in the drink that are too strong. The Ramos Gin Fizz is one of the best introductions to the world of egg cocktails.
NOTE: If you’re worried about salmonella, use pasteurized eggs. In addition, be sure to crack your egg in a separate bowl first to see if there’s blood in it. If there is, simply dump the egg, wash your tins and grab another one.
Matt Seiter is a co-founder of the United States Bartenders’ Guild’s St. Louis chapter, a member of the national board for the USBG’s MA program and a continuing educator for all desiring knowledge of the craft of mixology. He is a member of Drink Lab and is the creator of the Sanctuaria Cocktail Club.