by Pink Lady
In this week’s Dig column, we shared the story of the Bloody Mary, a cocktail that is perhaps the most popular eye-opener for modern brunchers. And by eye-opener, we mean Merriam-Webster’s definition No. 1:
- eye–open·er: noun
Daytime drinking may have fallen out of fashion in American culture, but there was a time when a morning tipple wouldn’t have branded you a layabout or a louse. Consider this treatise from Ernest P. Rawling’s RAWLING’S BOOK OF MIXED DRINKS (as quoted in David Wondrich’s IMBIBE) on the positive effects of the Fizz when taken early in the day:
“And in the ‘morning after the day before,’ when the whole world seems gray and lonesome, and every nerve and fibre of the body is throbbing a complaint against the indiscretion, just press the button and order a Gin Fizz — “Not too sweet, please!” It comes. Oh, shades of the green oasis in the sandy desert of life!”
Oh, wait. Hmmm…he seems to be talking about hangover cures. As Wondrich goes on to explain, a Fizz was the ‘Sporting Man’s’ breakfast of champions, a beverage to “moisten the clay with directly upon rising – an eye-opener, corpse-reviver, fog-cutter, gloom-lifter. A hangover cure…packed with vitamins, proteins…and complex sugars, foaming brightly and aglow with the promise of sweet relief.”
Hungover or not, we could all use a frothy glass of sweet relief every now and again. When in need, give one of these a try. The drink even has the word “Morning” etched into its nomenclature, perhaps to dispel any notions that drinking this before noon would be gauche. As Harry Johnson wrote in the recipe notes,” The author respectfully recommends the…drink as an excellent one for a morning beverage, which will give a good appetite and quiet the nerves.
MORNING GLORY FIZZ
Adapted from Harry Johnson’s NEW AND IMPROVED BARTENDER’S MANUAL as quoted in IMBIBE
.75 tablespoon sugar
.5 oz lemon juice
.25 oz lime juice
.5 tsp absinthe
1 egg white
2 oz Scotch whisky
Begin with the juices and 1 teaspoon or so of water in a mixing glass, stirring the sugar into it. Add shaved ice and shake vigorously; strain into a good sized bar-glass. Fill with soda water and serve.
Then of course, there is the Ramos Gin Fizz, a New Orleans eye-opener that can still be found on many a brunch menu today even outside the Crescent City. At one time, the popularity of this legendary combination of tough-to-emulsify ingredients necessitated a one-to-one bartender-to-“shaker boy” ratio at Carl Ramos’ Imperial Cabinet Saloon – a ‘shaker boy’ was a young black man whose job was to receive the ingredient-filled shaker from the bartender and shake the hell out of it. After relocating to the Stag Saloon, this epic cocktail was responsible for the jobs of 35 shakermen during Mardi Gras 1915, each passing the drink along to his neighbor once his arms grew weary. Again, with thanks to IMBIBE, here is the recipe adapted from Carl Ramos’ 1925 dictation to the New Orleans Item-Tribune
RAMOS GIN FIZZ/NEW ORLEANS FIZZ
1 tablespoonful powdered sugar (use superfine)
3 or 4 drops of orange flower water
1/2 lime (juice)
1/2 lemon (juice)
1.5 oz Old Tom Gin (finally available in Boston!)
white of One Egg
1/2 glass crushed ice
About 2 tablespoonsfull of rich milk or cream
About an ounce of seltzer water to make it pungent
Together well shaken and strained (drink freely)
“Shake and shake and shake until there is not a bubble left but the drink is smooth and snowy white and of the consistency of good rich milk,” Ramos told the reporter. Best to have someone mix one for you if you’re truly looking for a little hair of the dog in this glass.
On the subject of hangovers, Charles H. Baker offers 27 drinks called “Picker-Uppers” in his Gentleman’s Companion, (repubbed as Jigger, Beaker, and Glass), saying, “There are times in every man’s life when, through one reason or both, a man feels precisely like Death warmed up. In such sorry plight there is but one thing to do if we do not wish to sit and suffer through a whole day waiting for the cool hand of normalcy to stroke our dry and fevered brow — a Picker-Upper.” What follows is a fascinating list, atop which sits a unlikely suggestion: Drink Champagne.
A plain chilled pint of champagne per person with two or three simple biscuits is probably the finest picker-upper known to civilized man. The champagne must be very cold and can either have bitters, a little added brandy, or both…
Champagne in this role is somewhat more expensive than any of the other remedies collected, but when we think back there is stark realization that the time comes to every man when relative expense means little; and rather risk “turn” from the sight of raw egg, or taste of sweet ingredients, the refreshing, chill tartness of the bubbly is a dispenation straight from heaven.”
And how, Charles Baker!
Last but not least, here’s a recipe for the drink that they actually call the “Eye-Opener”, from the Savoy Cocktail Book:
yolk of 1 fresh egg
1 teaspoonful powdered sugar
2 dashes Absinthe
2 dashes Curacao
2 dashes Creme de Noyau
1 Liqueur Glass Rum
Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass.
A modern interpretation is chronicled here, by Erik Ellestead from Underhill Lounge.
Whatever you choose to imbibe in the morning, may it pick you up and dash away your hangovers/sorrows.