Egg white cocktails are a pleasure to explore and fun to mix because they require a lot of shaking. From fizzes and sours to flips and nogs, eggs appear in several classic cocktails that have, in turn, inspired modern drink recipes. The egg white doesn't really change the flavor of a drink, but instead creates a wonderful foam and silky texture that makes each sip more enjoyable than the last.
Raw egg drinks are nothing new. It's a practice used by many cultures that goes back to the 13th century, when eggs were a nutritional supplement or milk substitute and the first eggnogs were mixed up. In the 19th century, eggs even made it into English teas. Eggs were also a common ingredient in the cocktails documented by "Professor" Jerry Thomas in 1862, "How to Mix Drinks, or The Bon Vivant's Companion," the iconic printed bartending guide.
The majority of egg cocktails require separating the egg and using only the white (the yolks add an eggy flavor that isn't always desirable). Unless you're making two drinks at once, today's average large egg may be too much for most cocktails. Small or medium eggs are often a better choice.
You'll find that many recipes pair egg white with citrus and berries and that some are topped with soda. The fruit flavors and carbonation naturally enhance the experience. It's also common that the egg white is an optional ingredient. For instance, while a classically-styled whiskey sour includes an egg white, modern drinkers regularly prefer to leave it out. You can also add an egg white to similar drinks, such as the amaretto sour or any fizz or flip recipe.
How to Safely Mix With Raw Egg
Drinking raw eggs does pose a slight risk of food poisoning from bacteria such as salmonella. However, that's extremely rare, especially when you employ safe food practices. Be sure to use the freshest eggs possible and keep them refrigerated at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. The USDA suggests using pasteurized eggs for all raw applications because the heat kills bacteria. As a side-effect, the process also changes the egg's proteins, so you won't get the same amount of foam.
Dry Shake Egg White Cocktails
The trick to creating the best foam on top of egg white cocktails is to dry shake (sometimes called a mime shake). It's a bartending technique first documented in the 1950s, though it may have been used earlier. While it fell out of favor along with egg drinks during the mid-20th-century, the cocktail renaissance of the 2000s brought it back.
The primary purpose of dry shaking is to emulsify the egg white and aerate the proteins. While it produces a meringue-like texture, a shaken egg doesn't get as foamy as whipping egg whites for food. The drink's other ingredients slow that down process, but the dry shake revives some of that froth.
Dry shaking adds one extra step to mixing a drink: Combine all the ingredients in a shaker without ice, shake vigorously for about 30 seconds, and then add ice and shake for another 30 seconds before straining the drink. Some bartenders also use the reverse dry shake: Shake all of the ingredients except the egg with ice for 25 seconds, remove the ice, add the egg white and shake again for 20 to 25 seconds (there's no need to strain the drink).
Whichever approach you use, the additional benefit is that you avoid an overly diluted cocktail. Shaking as long as needed to emulsify the egg with a shaker full of ice also breaks down the ice and adds some water to the drink.
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The fizz is a style of drink that helped transform the early American bar in the late 1800s and likely inspired the collins family of cocktails. Its formula includes a base spirit, citrus, sugar, sparkling water, and an optional egg white. While you can use brandy, rum, or whiskey, the gin fizz is a great introduction to this classic set of cocktails.
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The New Orleans fizz (or Ramos gin fizz) takes everything great about the gin fizz and elevates the drink with an exquisite flavor. The recipe uses both lemon and lime, adds cream, and is not complete without a touch of orange flower water. It's one of the thickest, richest drinks you can make and, if a straw stands up straight in the glass, you know it's perfect.
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A traditional cocktail in Peru and Chile, the pisco sour is a taste sensation. Made with the South American style of brandy, the taste of pisco varies, so it's a new experience each time. Key lime juice and aromatic bitters are vital to this classic recipe. Like latte art, some bartenders swirl the bitters in the egg foam or create elaborate designs with a stencil and atomizer.
Drink Egg White Cocktails Quickly
Egg white cocktails are not to be left sitting on the table for a long time. If the drink gets too warm, you might notice an off-aroma likened to a wet dog. Some speculate that the pisco sour's bitters were intended to delay this effect in the hot climate.Continue to 5 of 14 below.
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By the early 1900s, creative bartenders were mixing up all sorts of fascinating cocktails. Many, including the Clover Club cocktail, were influenced by those earlier drinks and simply added to the formula. Raspberry syrup (or grenadine) give a berry sweetness to the basic gin sour in this recipe.
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The million dollar cocktail is an interesting twist between a sweet gin martini and sour drink. Gin is mixed with sweet vermouth, the citrus is replaced by pineapple juice, and sugar by grenadine in this pre-Prohibition recipe. As the name suggests, this is a luxurious drink, and shaking pineapple with egg white amplifies the foamy top.
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The commodore cocktail is a touch sweeter than most classics because it uses three sweeteners and light rum. To maintain a balance of flavors, just a hint of grenadine and raspberry syrup impart a fruitiness that modern drinkers will find familiar from martini menus.Continue to 9 of 14 below.
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You will need just three ingredients to pull off a Baltimore bracer cocktail, though it doesn't lack anything in flavor. This classic brandy recipe pours the spirit equally with anisette liqueur. The egg white is essential because it perfectly tames that bold anise flavor and marries the two liquors.
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Bringing modern ingredients into classic drinks can create spectacular libations, and that's exactly what happens in the ginger sour. You'll need ginger vodka, and a homemade infusion may be easier than finding it at the liquor store. This drink is sweetened with maple syrup, which fuses the lemon and ginger for a fun twist.Continue to 13 of 14 below.
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Wondrich D, Rothbaum N, eds. The Oxford Companion to Sprits and Cocktails. Oxford University Press; 2021.
Wondrich D. Imbibe!: From Absinthe Cocktail to Whiskey Smash, a Salute in Stories and Drinks to “Professor” Jerry Thomas, Pioneer of the American Bar.; 2015.
U.S. Department of Agriculture. Shell Eggs From Farm to Table. Food Safety Education; USDA.gov. 2020.