How To Incorporate Egg Whites into Your Cocktails
Robert Nieves, ReserveBar Contributor
When you think of your favorite cocktails and what ingredients they may consist of, I am sure that lemon juice, lime juice, simple syrup, agave, honey, and bitters may come to mind. But what about egg whites?
WHEN SHOULD EGG WHITES BE USED IN COCKTAILS?
Now… I know egg whites may sound a bit more appetizing to some for breakfast scrambled on a plate next to some crispy bacon and toast, but let's explore this idea for a second. Have you ever enjoyed a proper Whiskey Sour, Pisco Sour, or a Ramos Gin Fizz? Well, if you have, you enjoyed a cocktail that is enhanced by the use of egg whites. The experience can be quite magical when executed correctly.
For centuries, egg whites have added a unique richness to cocktails without adding ingredients that pack on the pounds, like Coconut Cream, Heavy Cream, or Pineapple Juice. As early as the 17th Century, egg whites were introduced by the British Royal Navy into punches for nutritional value. Fast forward to 1862, when arguably the most iconic cocktail made with egg whites made its first appearance: the Whiskey Sour.
TEXTURE WITHOUT AN "EGGY" FLAVOR
The Whiskey Sour is comprised of only four ingredients: lemon juice, simple syrup, whiskey, and last but certainly not least…an egg white. But why does the use of egg whites work as one of the ingredients in a cocktail?
The concept is similar to making a meringue. Egg whites (a.k.a. albumen) hold tight proteins found in an egg that, when combined with citrus, sugar, and the proper aeration, create a velvety texture and a foam cap at the top your cocktail. The beauty of using egg whites in a cocktail is that they really don't impart any "eggy" flavor at all. They are used strictly to add texture to your drink.
EXTRACTING YOUR EGG WHITES
Now that we know when and why egg whites appeared in classic cocktails let's discuss how to use them. First things first, make sure that the egg you are going to use, and your hands, are completely clean to avoid an opportunity of mixing unwanted remnants into your soon-to-be frothy masterpiece.
When cracking the egg, use the edge of the small side of your cocktail tin, and be sure to separate the egg yolk from the white using the eggshell. Be sure to get a clean break down the middle of the egg to avoid any eggshell pieces slipping into your tin. The goal is to allow the egg white to ooze into the shaker tin and discard the shell and egg yolk.
Now it's time to shake your cocktail, but when shaking egg white cocktails, you need to use a technique called a "dry shake" or "reverse dry shake" to emulsify your egg to create the perfect texture for your cocktail.
TWO WAYS TO SHAKE
The technique you're about to explore is called "The Dry Shake." You will add all ingredients (including the egg white) into your shaker without ice, ensuring it's securely sealed. Then shake it as vigorously as possible to properly incorporate the egg white and whip it into a frothy masterpiece. Next, you add ice to bring your cocktail to the proper temperature and introduce dilution… then voila! Your drink is ready to go.
Some bartenders prefer to use the "Reverse Dry Shake." With this technique, you will shake all the ingredients with ice first and then strain your cocktail. You will then return the drink to your shaker and shake it again without ice. This process is thought to impart less dilution for a small difference in flavor.
However, if you decide to shake this drink, do it with all the power you can muster to create that beautiful foamy head for your cocktail. You can create your own work of art by creating a design with bitters or floating a beautiful garnish, but we'll save that lesson for another time.
IT’S TIME TO GET STARTED
Now, it is time to flex your new-found bartending muscles with this Whiskey Sour below:
- 2 oz. Bourbon or Rye Whiskey
- 1 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
- ¾ oz. Simple Syrup
- 1 egg white from a small to medium egg
Add all of your ingredients into a cocktail shaker and seal the shaker without ice. Shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds to aerate the egg white and incorporate all of your ingredients thoroughly. Open your sealed cocktail shaker and add ice. Shake again vigorously for 10-15 seconds. Strain your cocktail into a chilled coupe glass and enjoy.
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