When David Wonderich released Imbibe! wrote and released several years ago, the impact that it had on bartending was profound.
The book acted towards mixology history and old cocktail books in the same manner that studying Latin gives linguistic students and insight into the cultural accuracy of languages in Western and Southern Europe.
Some of the drinks that we read about in Imbibe, like the Daiquiri for example we already knew about. What Imbibe did, however, we deliver bullseye historical and factually accurate information, punctuated with Wonderich’s dry and sardonic view on things (what was Jennings Cox doing there in the middle of a Spanish Civil War anyway?).
Then there were other drinks that we’d heard of or knew about, but were brought into a new light in a way that they could be properly understood, correctly interpreted and technically executed in a bar environment, night after night.
The Ramos Gin Fizz was one of these drinks, and Imbibe’s insight into the history and make up of the drink promoted the drink from a supporting role to A-list celebrity in the classic cocktail lexicon.
The Ramos Gin Fizz is an absolutely extraordinary drink, it can’t be denied. Rarely has a drink with so many opposing elements and ingredients come together to the point where you’d be happy to drink one after another, morning noon or night, in spite of how bad (or indeed good) you may end up feeling over the next two to 12 hours.
That being said, the reason why it’s so famous is not because its an amazing drink, although obviously it doesn’t do it any harm, but because of the cultural background of which it was born.
You see, when the drink gained notoriety and became the cocktail du jour, one of its defining characteristics was how it was made and the effort that went into it before it arrived into the hands of the guests.
The drink was shaken for 12 minutes, an amount of time that seemed like an eternity when you’re shaking a drink, and a period which seemed to be long enough to melt all the ice into the drink and in turn produce an extremely silky and smooth cocktail that is just unparalleled in terms of texture and flavour.
Problem is, if you’re the kind of person that thinks they should shake a drink for 12 minutes, whether its a busy Saturday night or during a quiet Monday shift, I have one thing to say to you; you’re an idiot.
The biggest issue with this out-of-date technique is not only does it mean you’re wasting your time being a prisoner to the annals of history, but you’re also leaving less room in the drink for the soda water, an essential ingredient which lifts the drink from a dense and heavy dairy missile to a brighter and more well rounded long drink with evanescence.
With the ingredients, of course you need to make sure that everything is measured properly, especially the orange flour water, and that everything is as chilled as possible before you shake the drink. But that’s only the half of it.
The secret to a making a perfect Ramos? Easy. Ignore the technique that has given it its enduring legacy.
Ramos Gin Fizz
- 2oz Gin
- 1oz Heavy Cream
- 0.75oz Split Lemon/Lime Juice
- 0.75oz Simple Syrup
- 1 Egg White
- 5 Drops Orange Flower Water
- Soda Water (to top)
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Dry shake to emulsify all the ingredients, and then shake with ice. Strain into a chilled fizz glass sans ice, and top with soda.
Henry C. Ramos, 1888, Imperial Cabinet Saloon , New Orleans
NB – The above method is fine and dandy if you just want to make the drink and be done with it. That being said, no one changed the world by taking a shortcut.
The best thing to do here is add 2oz of crushed/fine ice to the drink before you ‘dry’ shake. When doing this, it’ll take about a minute or so for all the ice to dissolve – you should be able to hear it and feel it – and by doing so the drink will be emulsified properly, decently chilled and fairly aerated.
Once you’ve done this, pour the drink into a chilled 10 ounce fizz glass (preferably pulled straight from the freezer) whilst simultaneously pouring soda into the drink; do this until all the contents of your tin have been emptied.
Place the drink in the freezer for two to three minutes, and then remove. The drink should have thickened and settled. Pierce the surface of the drink with a straw, go as far down as you can go, and add a tiny bit more soda; if you do this correctly, you should see a head appear over the top of the glass without it toppling over.
Now that is a Ramos Gin Fizz.