Episode 158 – Fizz vs. Spritz

The Silver and Golden Fiz cocktails, however, were shaken over ice, poured into a glass, and THEN topped off – and here’s the kicker – ONLY with seltzer water.

This tells us a few things. Obviously, to achieve the rich, desserty texture from the egg, you really need to shake the drink. This much should be clear to anyone who has worked with eggs in cocktails. But to me what’s more interesting is that Jerry Thomas knew that big bubbles – the kind you get from a seltzer gun – were the only thing to use in a rich, dessert- style cocktail if you want to achieve contrast with the other ingredients – in order to make the drink feel effervescent despite its heavy, sweet flavor profile.

If you want to learn more about egg-based drinks or the difference between sparkling water and seltzer water, head over to Episode 029 – Egg Cocktails, or Episode 099 – Bursting Bubbles. Also, if you do decide to head over to the show notes page for this episode to check out that PDF of Jerry Thomas’ Bar Tender’s Guide, the recipes I just mentioned are on pages 46 and 47 – which are pages 50 and 51 of the PDF document. The more you know.

Featured Cocktail: The Ramos Gin Fizz

Now, of course, I’d be remiss if I moved on without mentioning what’s probably the most iconic Fizz cocktail in the book – the Ramos Gin Fizz, invented by Henry C. Ramos of the Imperial Cabinet Bar in New Orleans in 1888 – one year after the final publication of The Professor’s Bar Tender’s Manual. This cocktail extends the fizz format by adding dairy (in the form of heavy cream) and orange blossom water to the recipe. It also modifies the process to generate an uncommonly rich head of foam on the drink by employing a method called the “dry shake,” where some drink components of the cocktail are beat up in the shaker without ice to begin denaturing the egg whites without the unhelpful presence of ice or dilution.

To make it, you’ll need:

  • 2 ounces gin

  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice

  • 1/2 ounce lime juice

  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup (1:1, sugar:water)

  • 3 dashes orange flower water

  • 1 ounce heavy cream

  • 1 egg white

  • 2 ounces soda water

Combine all ingredients except soda water in a cocktail shaker with NO ice, and make sure you really maintain the seal with your hands – otherwise, you’re gonna be wearing most of the drink. Give that a good, solid shake for at least 15-20 seconds (or until you hear and feel the consistency of the drink begin to change in the shaker). At this point, add your ice and shake for a further 15-20 seconds before straining into a highball glass, topping with soda, garnishing optionally with half an orange wheel, and enjoying it through a straw.

To me, the Ramos Gin Fizz is the Apotheosis – the high water mark – of the fizz family. It attains a level of decadence hinted at by Jerry Thomas’ Silver and Golden Fiz cocktails, while still fitting comfortably within a category that started with a little booze, a little sugar, a little citrus, and some bubbles.

A Brief History of the Spritz

So, now that we’re comfortable with the Fizz category, let’s get spritzy. And of course, the first cocktail that comes to mind when we say “Spritz” is the mighty Aperol variant. It’s everywhere. It’s delicious – and so why shouldn’t it be the first thing we think of when the word is uttered?

It’s a weird thing to say, but the Spritz – in my opinion – is both older and younger than the Fizz – or perhaps more accurately stated, the origins of the spritz are older, but it didn’t reach its height of popularity or development until fizzes were old news.


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