The Fizz ,buzzes like a fly and stings like a wasp
“While the Cocktail is unquestionably the most popular drink on the Pacific coast today, the
next in favor is surely the Fizz – the long drink par excellence. At any time or in any place
where the tongue and throat are dry; when the spirits are jaded and the body is weary;
after a long automobile trip on hot and dusty roads; it is the that the Gin Fizz comes like a
cooling breeze from the sea, bringing new life and the zest and joy of living.”
That’s how Ernest P. Rawling in his 1914 “Rawling’s Book of Mixed Drinks” poetically
described the Gin Fizz, the drunkest choice between the Fizzes category.
But what is a Fizz? Essentially is a mixture of lemon or lime juice, sugar, and the spirit of
your choice, shaken and then strained in a 6 to 8-ounce glass and the “Fizzed” by adding
charged water in a fine stream under pressure, served foamy exactly as the drinks was
served back in the time by the Soda Jerk at the Soda Fountain.
Nowadays most of the bartenders think of the Collins and the Fizz and mix them pretty
much the same way and serve them in the same glass, but there are little differences that
can change the whole drinking experience, depending on the guest’s needs. The Collins,
the single glass expression of the Collins Punch, is mixed in a tall glass (14 to 16 ounces)
with several ice cubes and with the Soda Water poured in slowly and the whole drink
stirred very briefly on the order that it may retain its carbonation as long as possible. The
drink should be clear, like a Highball, and should never be permitted to “fizz”. So here
there are the two most important points: the Collins is meant to be clear and can be
enjoyed over a medium/long time, while the Fizz is slightly cloudy and, to be delighted by
his freshness, should be drunk as soon as possible or the natural taste of the same is lost
to the customer.
One person that took this too seriously was “Professor” Denton, of Brooklyn, New York
who drank 40 Gin Fizzes in one day back in the 1890s. He also used to bill himself while
going around the Williamsburg bars cadging drinks; unfortunately, one of his bets costs
him to lose his life because of internal hemorrhaging after betting that he could drink a Fizz
and eat the glass too.
1898.10.06 (Thu) The Brooklyn Daily Eagle – Barflies – ‘Professor Denton’
The first written evidence of the Fizz or “Fiz” was reported by Jerry Thomas in 1876 in his book and calls for:
- 15 ml Simple Syrup or Gum Syrup
- 30 ml Freshly Squeezed Lemon or Lime Juice
- 60 ml Spirit
- Topped up with soda (between 45-60ml)
With this kind of drink, we need to be careful about not using too much-charged water or it will cut down the sweetness of the sugar and the sourness of the lemon or lime juice as well as the strength of the liquor. Keeping that in mind you will create a drink that will let you drink one and another one and so on. That’s where the danger lies and the true essence of the Fizz.
This cocktail is one of bartender’s favorite drink to make and to drink because is very versatile and everyone can go to town in “rolling your own”. Let’s add some smashed Seasonal Fruit and we will obtain a Fruity Fizz, that will be loved by all your guests. Or instead of the Fruits we can add 10 to 15ml of egg white and we will have a Silver Fizz that is one of the best hangover cure drinks you can ask for.
Between the Twists on these Classic drinks made by very skilled bartenders, two deserves a special mention.
Morning Glory Fizz
One of the early and quite successful attempts on mixing Scotch whisky was created by the one and only Harry Johnson.
- 20 ml Simple Syrup or Gum Syrup
- 15 ml Lemon Juice
- 5 ml Lime Juice
- 1,25 ml or 2 dashes Absinthe
- 15 ml Egg White
- 60 ml of Blended Scotch Whiskey (Pity Side)
Mix all the ingredients in a Boston Shaker, dry shake first then shaken with ice cubes. Strain in a good-sized Bar Glass and top up with Soda Water.
This cocktail is loved by men and women who first approached Scotch Whiskey Drinks. Low on alcohol but rich in flavors, the addition of the Absinthe creates a nice aroma and crispiness to the drink that will let your palate ask for another sip. As mentioned by its creator, this dink is an excellent one for the morning beverage, which will give a good appetite and quiet the nerves.
Ramos Gin Fizz
- 20 ml Simple or Gum Syrup
- 15 ml Lemon Juice
- 5 ml Lime Juice
- 15 ml Egg White
- 15 ml Double Cream
- 3-4 drops Orange Flower Water
- 45 ml London Dry Gin
Mix all the ingredients in a Boston Shaker, and shake with a good amount of crushed ice. “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” (Charles “Carl” Henry Ramos).
Since he arrives at the Imperial Cabinet Saloon in New Orleans in 1887-1888, Mr. Ramos and the quality of his Gin Fizzes became famous all along with the country (the Cabinet was elected “the most famous gin fizz saloon in the world” by the Kansas City Star). One of them had a particular and quite difficult and long way of mixing. Because of that, Ramos needed the help of the “Shaker Boys”, a usually black man whose only job was to shake the drink for 2-3 minutes. Usually, every bartender had 6 of them and in 1915 Mardi Gras employed 35 Shaker Boys. Before Prohibition kicked in, he told everybody how to make this famous fizz and the recipe even appeared on the New Orleans Item-Tribune a few years before his death in 1928. The Roosevelt Hotel bought the rights on the recipe in 1935 including 2 drops of vanilla extracts, helping this drink to become even more popular.
As you can see, a Fizz really was and still is a unique Classic Drink that will quench your thirst and satisfy everyone needs, even our teetotaller friends: just mix some various citrus juice, with a syrup of your choice and an aromatized soda to let them have a tasty and refreshing drink that will make their day better.
Nowadays with all the new techniques, new flavor combinations, and new spirits that we discovered we really can have a lot of fun keeping the evolution of the Fizz going on and I am sure that will not be difficult to find someone to try our crazy and amazing creations. We just need to keep our eyes open and be ready with bar snacks…just in case somebody tries to eat the glass.
Speaking again about Mr. Ramos and his famous drink is reported in several magazines and newspapers that in 1899 he was using the whites of 5000 eggs a week; to supply these eggs needs he probably had the largest hen-house in the country. Sure, it is an incredible number, but an important question was made: what about the egg yolks? This was a huge problem to face for the New Orleans bartender. Very intelligently (smart no wastage concept, do you ever heard about it?), he turned that problem into an opportunity; for the Italian readers no, he didn’t start to cook Carbonara for the guests, but, instead, he was using them in the omelets for the free lunch counter and shipping the rest all over the country, to bakers, to be used in making sponge cake and, as a bartender, he was also using the yolk into a cocktail he used to push when a guest was tired of Fizzes: Sherry Flip.
- 90 ml Sherry (Oloroso) or Port (Tawny)
- 1 Egg beaten very thin
- 1 tsp of White Sugar or 20 ml of Rich Simple Syrup
Dissolve the sugar with a splash of soda and add the other ingredients, shake it well with cubed ice and then strain it in a Coupette, scratch a little bit of Nutmeg on top.
Back in the Colonial days, Flips were made from quarts of ale and gills of strong rum, thickened with eggs and sugar, rolled and fitted somehow in a Cocktail glass. This drink had evolved in other egg drinks like the Egg Nogg and Tom & Jerry.
- 1 Tbsp White Sugar
- 1 Whole Egg
- 60 ml Brandy
- 30 ml Rum
- 90/120 ml Milk (Hot or Cold)
Mix all the ingredients in a Boston Shaker and shake it well with ice cubes. Pour in a tumbler glass with ice cubes and grate a little nutmeg on top.
This is a truly American drink and all his first mentions are American. The first one is back in 1788 by the Philadelphia newspaper. The Europeans that traveled to the US were surprised by this drink but for the Americans was a common drink with a tight seasonality.
Tom & Jerry
- 30 ml Brandy
- 30 ml Rum
- 30ml Butter Mix
- Top Up with Milk
Mix all the ingredients in a Boston Shaker and shake it well with cubed ice. Strain in Mug with cubed ice and grate a little nutmeg on top.
- 250gr Rich Sugar (Demerara and Muscovado)
- 3 Eggs
- ½ tsp Powdered Cinnamon
- ½ tsp Cloves
- ½ tsp Grated Allspice
Beat the whites then the yolks mix and add the spices and the rum. Thicken with sugar until the mixture attains the consistency of a light batter.
Jerry Thomas claimed to have created this drink in 1847 in New Haven, using the names of his two white mice. But, thanks to a researcher like David Wondrich, we discovered that the drink was already drunk in 1820-1830. So probably Jerry Thomas mixed his first Tom & Jerry back in 1847 and he promoted it until people start to think was one of his creations.
The Flip reinvented himself thanks to barkeeper like Ed Simmons, evolving from a hot and heavy flip to his modern iced version; we don’t know if Simmons could be considered the inventor of this Cold Flip, but at least we have a sort of starting point thanks to him. “A Flip made with sherry or port is a very delicious drink that gives great strength to delicate people” and was one of the favourites of the American drinkers, as Harry Johnson reported in 1882. For the Sherry Flip, you want to use an Oloroso (nice and rich) or a Tawny Port and to mix in the Ramos way, unfortunately, we don’t have the complete recipe we only know that we have to mix:
Ramos Sherry Flip
- 90 ml Sherry (Oloroso)
- 30 ml Rich Milk or Double Cream
- 1 Egg Yolk
- 1 Drop Vanilla Extract
- 30 ml “Squee Gee”
The last ingredient is a secret mixture and was a pre-bottled secret blend of the Ramos Brothers, perfected by years of experiments that had “between fourteen and nineteen ingredients”, all of them the Choicest liqueurs and each in a different proportion.