MANY OF US like to kiss up to bartenders. You know if you’re one of those people: leaning over the bar with a wide, ingratiating grin on your face; drink order at the ready (something urbane but relatively easy to prepare, like a Manhattan); and prepared to tip well for even the ghost of a smile. Maybe it’s the haughty insouciance of the drinks professional that gets to you, triggering a visceral need to please anyone who ignores you the first two or three times they see you, even though you’re clearly thirsty, and there is no one else waiting, oh my God.
But say you don’t like your bartender — maybe they stole your boyfriend, or have the same haircut as you and look better in it. If that’s the case, and you really want to sour their pickle, steam their cocktail onion or otherwise get them to immediately hate you, you should order a Ramos Gin Fizz. If you really, really hate them, order it on a busy night.
The Ramos Gin Fizz is a bona fide “classic cocktail.” The ingredients are simple, and you might even have them on hand: gin, egg whites, lemon or lime juice, simple syrup, cream (yes; it’s one of those) and orange flower water (OK; maybe you don’t keep this in your pantry, but if you’re serious about the whole “classic cocktail” thing, you might). All of that is unobjectionable to bartenders, and well within their easy reach and purview. But it’s the method required that causes the friction — literally, in fact, because the method is friction. A Ramos Gin Fizz must be shaken, not stirred. And not only shaken, but shaken vigorously, endlessly, constantly, until the egg white effervesces into a sparkling froth.
The Ramos Gin Fizz, which tastes like a frothy, sweet-sour, citrusy alcoholic milkshake, was invented in the late 1800s by bartender Henry Ramos (it is, creatively enough, also called a New Orleans Gin Fizz). All the ingredients, minus the soda, should be added to the shaker and given a brief agitation to combine. Then add ice, and shake the crap out of it for … well … some bartenders say you have to do it for up to 12 minutes. Twelve minutes! You can run a mile in 12 minutes, if you’re pretty fit. Now just imagine making the drink over and over again, all night, for a room full of rowdy patrons. No wonder Ramos employed as many as 35 burly barbacks at once, dubbed “shaker boys,” to shake the drinks in turns. Pouring the drink into the glass, with the froth intact, and its splash of fizzy water requires a bit of finesse as well, which might be a tall order from a frenzied bartender dripping with exercise sweat who now loathes you — but, hey, that’s why they’re professionals.
If you are feeling bad about your arms and want a form of exercise you can do that also will result in a beverage, you can make a Ramos Gin Fizz at home. Nowadays, you can beat it with a hand blender, I suppose, or prepare the whole thing in a regular blender, but the effect will not be quite the same. This recipe was cribbed from The Spruce Eats and is a pretty classic representation:
Ramos Gin Fizz
1.5 ounces gin
2 ounces cream or half-and-half
1 ounce simple syrup
1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice (or a combination of both)
1 egg white
1 or 2 dashes (or pinches, or generous drops) orange flower water
1 or 2 ounces club soda
1. Combine all ingredients except club soda in a cocktail shaker. Shake WITHOUT ICE to combine, for at least a minute. This step can be tricky, as outlined here. This is because shaking without ice will create pressure that will make your shaker want to pop open. Stick with it.
2. Now add ice. Put on some workout music, and get shaking. Shake up and down, like you’re on a Shake Weight infomercial, until the egg and cream magically combine into a cold, creamy froth stiff enough to hold up a straw. Your mileage may vary, but it could take several 1980s Whitney Houston songs to complete.
3. Strain it carefully into a highball glass. There will be some extra-stiff foam on top — slide that onto the top of the liquid in the glass, if you can.
4. Add club soda, careful not to flatten the foam. Serve with a straw. This is partially to preserve the texture, and partially because after all that shaking, you might not be able to hold up the glass.