*LUPEC ruminations, as previously published in the Weekly Dig.
Imagine 35 pairs of arms working in tandem to produce a cocktail just for you. If you were in New Orleans for Mardi Gras circa 1915, The Stag saloon would have offered this surreal experience. There, Henry Ramos mixed up his special New Orleans fizzes, believed to be the best in the world.
Ramos invented the drink at his Imperial Cabinet saloon in 1888, when New Orleans was becoming a hot tourist destination, beloved for its quaint, historic saloons. Ramos profited greatly from this boom, as tourists thronged his establishment for a taste of his famous house fizzes. Six bartenders were employed per shift at the Imperial Cabinet, each with his own dedicated “shaker boy,” “a young black man whose sole job was to receive the fully charged shaker from the bartender and shake the bejeezus out of it,” writes David Wondrich in IMBIBE!.
Why all the shaking? This particular fizz recipe calls for egg white and cream, two ingredients that are famously difficult to emulsify. “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 said. If preparing a Ramos Gin Fizz, you’d best bring your guns to the show.
By Mardi Gras in 1915, Ramos had conceived a new format for emulsifying: 35 shakermen would shake the drink until their arms were tired, then pass it on down the line.
There is one place where you can still see great displays of mixological showmanship: Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans. This five-day celebration of the history and artistry of drink-making is just around the corner. LUPEC Boston will be there. Days filled with nerdy cocktail seminars taught by the most talented folks in the beverage industry, nights filled with boozing at New Orleans’ famous bars and a chance to sample a Ramos Gin Fizz in its hometown—we wouldn’t miss it for the world.
Think about joining us as you shake your own fizz long and hard.
Adapted from The Essential Cocktail: The Art of Mixing Perfect Drinks by Dale DeGroff
1.5 oz gin
0.5 oz fresh lemon juice
0.5 oz fresh lime juice
1.5-2 oz simple syrup, to taste
2 oz heavy cream
0.75 oz egg white
2 drops orange-flower water
Combine the gin, juices, syrup, cream, egg white and orange-flower water in a mixing glass with ice, and shake long and hard to emulsify the egg. Strain into a highball glass without ice. Top with soda but no garnish.
TALES OF THE COCKTAIL IS JULY 21st-25th IN NEW ORLEANS. FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT TALESOFTHECOCKTAIL.COM.