While whiskey and rum cocktails can stand up admirably to heavier cocktail ingredients — the use of dairy in Irish coffees and coconut cream in piña coladas comes to mind — gin tends to fare better in light, refreshing beverages that allow the spirit’s botanical notes to shine. Citrus, vermouth, even olive brine — all cocktail mixers that don’t weigh down the gin and enhance those floral, juniper-esque flavors.
That’s why a gin cocktail that includes both egg whites and heavy cream sounds like the product of a fever dream … that is, unless you’re familiar with the Ramos Gin Fizz, an unabashedly peculiar libation that uses both ingredients and that inspires the esteem of many professional bartenders. Curious about this gin-based cult classic? Read on for the full scoop on the Ramos Gin Fizz, along with two recipes to try at home.
Like so many other great cocktails, the Ramos Gin Fizz can trace its origins back to the Big Easy. In the late 19th century, bartender Henry C. Ramos created this beverage, calling it the “New Orleans Fizz.” The drink soon hit it big at Ramos’ self-owned NOLA bars, and fans eventually decided to credit him in the cocktail’s name. Hence, the “Ramos Gin Fizz.”
A traditional Ramos Gin Fizz contains dry gin, freshly squeezed lemon and lime juice, an egg white, a dash of simple syrup, orange flower water, and a stream of heavy cream. After it’s shaken, the cocktail goes in a Collins glass and gets topped off with soda water.
Tart, floral, rich, and surprisingly refreshing, the Ramos Gin Fizz offers up a singular drinking experience. “The unique texture and body of the Ramos Gin Fizz is different from the crispness of a traditional gin cocktail. It is incredibly smooth and a great vehicle to let you explore the nuances of the botanicals in the gin,” attests master distiller Michael Chapyak of Archetype Distillery in Denver.
Lead bartender Charles Friedrichs of The Jones Assembly in Oklahoma City also points out that the Ramos Gin Fizz is a bartender favorite, largely due to its tricky nuances: “As a bartender, the technical side of this drink is what makes it so enjoyable to make. Along with the showmanship involved, we, as bartenders, have to think about how well the drink is being mixed in the shaker, how well we are breaking down the egg white, how long we need to shake, and whether or not our arms are going to fall off. It is one of very few drinks where a bartender is able to show off a little bit while creating a technically difficult drink. And at the end of the day, the bartender with the biggest head claims bragging rights! What is not to love?”
Why is the Ramos Gin Fizz typically considered a “cult favorite” rather than a cocktail-menu staple?
The Ramos Gin Fizz is hardly a new cocktail innovation, but the mainstream popularity of some of its contemporaries (like the Sazerac and the Old Fashioned) still eludes this beverage, landing it in the “cult favorite” category rather than in the “classic beverage” one. Veteran NYC mixologist, glassware designer, and spirits specialist Zane Harris views the Ramos Gin Fizz’s under-the-radar status as a testament to the fact that it’s a time-consuming cocktail requiring substantial bartending skills to make correctly. “The Ramos Gin Fizz is by no means a casual drink to make. Bartenders that have been in the industry for years will struggle to get the technique down to execute this drink consistently. It also takes about 10 min to make if you’re not doing anything else, like serving other guests at your bar. These factors contribute to it being a favorite for drinkers but problematic for bars and restaurants. Putting a drink like this on your menu [could] be ill-advised, as you will most likely not be capable of executing this drink well during busier times of service,” Harris tells us.
If you feel ready to take on the Ramos Gin Fizz challenge at your home bar, we advise following these expert tips:
Use a jigger to get precise measurements.
With some cocktails, there’s no harm in free-pouring your ingredients. However, food & beverage director Danielle Becker of the Aspen Meadows Resort in Aspen warns us that the Ramos Gin Fizz calls for exact amounts. “Use a jigger! Even after all my years [of bartending], certain drinks require such precision that even a small amount of difference could change the entire make-up,” says Becker.
If you don’t have access to fresh eggs, egg white powder is a viable substitute.
Fresh eggs can be a bit capricious as a cocktail ingredient, especially if you’re making your Ramos Gin Fizzes in a warm area without a refrigerator at the ready. Should you find yourself in that situation, Becker recommends swapping out your egg carton for a container of egg white powder. “If you don’t have a bar where you can keep eggs, try egg white powder. I ran a poolside bar years ago, and keeping eggs cold enough was nearly impossible. We started using egg white powder. We got the creamy mouth-feel and the gorgeous head, without the salmonella,” she explains.
Don’t try to rush the process.
As we mentioned previously, the Ramos Gin Fizz is a labor of love. You may feel tempted to seek out shortcuts or ways of reducing your prep time, but bartender and chief spirits officer Jorge Centeno of the Deer Path Inn in Lake Forest, Illinois encourages you to accept and embrace this cocktail’s slow-burn method. “Don’t rush the process. This drink is time honored and time consuming. It dates back to the 1880s, [so you need to] honor the past, when time didn’t move as quickly as it does now. Take a full 12 minutes to shake the proper gin fizz and to pay your respects to bartenders of many years past,” Centeno tells The Manual.
(By Megan Deschaine, bartender, Doar Bros., Charleston, South Carolina)
Bartender Megan Deschaine loves the Ramos Gin Fizz in spite of (or, in fact, because of) its fastidiousness, insisting that “the Ramos Gin Fizz is definitely one that can kick you in the gut if it is ordered and you are in the weeds. Or if it’s your last night on the job, and ten of your closest bartender friends come to order them at the same time. But most people, especially those cocktail enthusiasts, understand that she does take some time to prepare. It takes a lot of attentive care and energy to get that sexy, eggy head to lift out of the Collins glass. It’s definitely one for the nerds. The greatest wonder of this cocktail is that, despite the extra time and care it takes to make it (plus its inclusion of egg white and cream), the drink is so light and effervescent. It only takes seconds to crush.”
- 2 oz floral, citrus-forward gin (Deschaine recommends Sutler’s Gin)
- .75 oz lemon juice
- .5 oz heavy cream
- .5 oz lime juice
- .5 oz simple syrup
- 3 dashes of orange flower water
- 1 egg white
- Club soda (to top)
- Fill a Collins glass with ice and stash in the refrigerator while building the cocktail.
- Add all ingredients (except the club soda) to a shaker and shake vigorously with ice.
- Strain contents into a second glass, throw away the ice, pour contents back into the shaker, and reshake vigorously without ice.
- Fetch Collins glass and dump ice. Strain cocktail into chilled glass.
- Pour a little bit of club soda back and forth between the empty halves of the shaker to pick up any residual egg white, then carefully pour into the glass.
- Very carefully, pour an additional 2 oz of club soda into the cocktail, very slowly raising the head of the cocktail gently above the rim of the glass.
- Express and discard a lemon zest over the top of the cocktail.
(By Patricia Grimm, beverage director, Adele’s, Nashville)
Not a fan of egg whites in your cocktail? Patricia Grimm is with you on that, which is why she created a spin on the Ramos Gin Fizz that’s completely vegan-friendly. In lieu of egg whites, she uses aquafaba, also known as the liquid found in a can of chickpeas. She also swaps in coconut cream for heavy cream, and these substitutes create a cocktail with the textural appeal of a classic Ramos Gin Fizz, but without the animal products.
- 2 oz gin
- 1 oz aquafaba (chickpea juice)
- .75 oz simple syrup
- .5 oz lime juice
- .5 oz lemon juice
- 1 bar spoon coconut cream
- 3 droplets orange blossom water or orange blossom liqueur
- Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker, without ice, and “dry” shake (without ice) for 60 seconds.
- Add ice and shake again for at least 30 seconds.
- Strain into a highball glass and top with club soda (the reaction will create a foam on top).
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