Ramos Gin Fizz: A History and Recipe
There is something inherently magical about the classic Ramos Gin Fizz, a delicate complexity that haunts me every single time I am fortunate enough to consume one. It is not a libation to be consumed in excess, but rather a special treat to revive and invigorate a beleaguered body and soul, as it has many moving parts and is painstakingly time-consuming to create. It is all at once creamy, acidic, floral, and refreshingin my mind the perfect cocktail.
Andrew Volk, longtime bartender and the owner of the Portland Hunt and Alpine Club, was not difficult to convince to join me on a sunny afternoon to discuss the storied past of the drink while mixing up a few for good measure.
One of the great things about the history of this cocktail is that its creator, Henry Ramos, kept the recipe under lock and key during the early 1900s, when the drink was enjoying national fame, Volk continues as he separates egg whites from their yolks for the shaker. Yet when prohibition began he made the formula widely available as an act of civil disobedience, encouraging the public to learn this concoction at home.
So what is it, exactly? When properly made, it is a thing of beauty, snow-white in color with a luscious, frothy head. All of the elements are in place for a reason: the egg and cream give it texture, the citrus and club soda quench the thirst, the sugar and orange flower water temper the other ingredients, and the gin imparts potency. Most bartenders universally regard it as the most high-maintenance cocktail that one could possibly order, as Volk goes on to inform me that,
If you thought Mojitos were a pain, this is definitely a whole other level. To be honest, what this stems from is that the original recipe calls for a solid ten minutes of shaking to emulsify the beverage. During the height of this cocktail in New Orleans, bars would actually employ shakers, sometimes as many as six to every single bartender, who would do nothing but exactly thatshake the drink.
We have both found this to be generally unnecessary though, as the cocktail still comes out wonderfully after only a minute or two of vigorous shaking, but I suppose there is the stigma attached to ordering the beverage that implies an expectation of the full ten-minute workout. As Volk tops my drink off with club soda, he considers the rewarding nature of putting a cocktail in front of a customer that is going to blow their mind, regardless of how much work it may be. With our menu we try to include things that we have created, but it is always implied that you can feel free to request the classics. I love this drink because of its history, the recipe has been around for well over a hundred years and it definitely still has a time and place.
Because this potion is traditionally consumed early in the day, as cocktail historian David Wondrich once said it is perfect for moistening the clay, it is especially satisfying to learn the method to make at home. A chilled Collins glass would be the preferred vessel, though it is perfectly acceptable to employ whatever makes you the happiest.
THE RAMOS GIN FIZZ
(Adapted from The Essential Cocktail: The Art of Mixing Drinks by Dale DeGroff)
- 1.5 ounce Gin
- .5 ounce fresh lemon juice
- .5 ounce fresh lime juice
- 1 ounce simple syrup
- 1.5 ounce heavy cream
- 1 egg white
- A dash orange flower water
- Cold club soda
Directions: Combine all ingredients in a shaker except club soda and shake vigorously for about 30 seconds. Add ice and proceed to shake for 2-3 minutes (10 is traditional and you are welcome to substitute this for your morning workout if youd like). Strain into the glass and top with club soda to froth it up.
Victory is yours.
Portland Hunt and Alpine Club | 75 Market Street | Portland | (207) 747-4754 huntandalpineclub.com