Tips and Recipes for Using Eggs in Cocktails

Pisco Sour With Egg White and Bitters Decoration
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Eggnog is a holiday favorite, and it's the best-known egg-based drink. But have you tried a coffee cocktail or a New Orleans fizz? They're just two of the tasty cocktails that include a raw egg and there are many more. The majority are classics that were created around the turn of the 20th century, and those influenced a number of fascinating modern cocktail recipes. While there is something irresistible about the foamy head of an egg white cocktail, it's important to understand why eggs are used and how to safely mix them into your drinks.

What Do Eggs Add to Cocktails?

Eggs are shaken into cocktails to change the drink's texture, flavor, or both. There are three options when eggs are an ingredient, and recipes specify which to use:

  • Egg whites will have very little effect on the cocktail's taste. They add a nice rich, silky, foam texture as seen in cocktails like the Chicago fizz.
  • Egg yolks add an "eggy" flavor to the drink that's similar to eggnog. Yolks are rarely used alone, though essential in cocktails such as the classic night cap.
  • Whole eggs contribute the best of both worlds: the egg flavor and a silky texture. If the drink recipe simply lists "egg," use a whole egg.

The Risks of Drinking Raw Eggs

The risk of food poisoning from salmonella is the primary concern of using raw eggs in any drink. Eggs can be one of the carriers of the bacteria. Those people who are most susceptible include youth, older adults, women who are pregnant, and anyone with a compromised immune system. Beyond cocktails, a handful of nonalcoholic drinks include eggs as well, so even people who do not drink can be affected.

There are ways to reduce your risks, and the majority of people who drink egg cocktails experience no ill effects. However, if you are concerned, it's recommended that you simply avoid all raw egg drinks.

7 Tips for Safe Egg Handling

The key to safely drinking anything that includes raw eggs is to be diligent about which eggs you choose and how you handle them:

  1. Purchase eggs out of refrigerated cases only. Choose eggs with no cracks or damaged shells. Check the dates on the container and look for the USDA stamp (or your country's equivalent) that indicates the eggs were inspected.

  2. Pasteurized eggs in the shell are the recommended choice for any food or drink that includes raw eggs, according to the USDA. The pasteurization process is designed to kill any bacteria inside the egg. The drawback to using these eggs is that some of the flavors are lost. Pasteurized eggs will be clearly marked as such. 

  3. You must be smart about egg storage. Refrigerate raw (especially unpasteurized) eggs in their original carton right away. Store them in the coldest part of your refrigerator where the temperature is 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. Do not store them in the door (even if there's an egg compartment) because the temperature fluctuates each time the door is opened. The U.S. FDA recommends that you store eggs for no longer than three weeks.

  4. When in doubt, toss it. If an egg looks bad, has cracks, or in any way does not seem right to you, do not use it in a drink. When you crack the egg, if any part looks abnormal, discolored, or cloudy, throw it away.

  5. If you have a question about whether your eggs are past due, give them the water test. For drinks, only use eggs that sink to the bottom because they're the freshest. If the egg floats, discard it, as it is no longer edible.

  6. One alternative is to use an egg substitute or "egg product." With these, you will notice a considerable taste difference and they must be used immediately after opening. Most bartenders would not recommend their use in cocktails and it's often best to just make the drink without an egg.

  7. Professional bartenders need to check with state laws before serving egg cocktails. Many areas prohibit serving raw eggs to customers.

How to Mix Eggs Into Cocktails

An egg's density requires extra mixing to fully integrate into the other cocktail ingredients. Also, as you work with the egg, there are additional safety tips to keep in mind.

  • Separate the egg safely. If the drink you are making requires you to use either the white or the yolk, you will need to separate the egg. The eggshell can have bacteria on it, so for raw egg usage, it is best to avoid using the shell. Instead, try one of these separating techniques:

    • Carefully pour the egg into a slotted spoon and allow the white to strain into a bowl or glass.
    • Crack the egg into a bowl and use a spoon to gently remove the yolk without breaking it.
    • Use an egg separator. It's a handy kitchen tool that does all of the work for you.
  • Dry shake, then shake again. Eggs are best mixed by shaking; don't even try stirring an egg cocktail. To get the best froth (especially with egg whites and whole eggs), it is best to combine the drink ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake it without ice (called a "dry shake"). Then, add ice and shake the drink again. 

    You will want to shake egg drinks for at least 30 seconds, and quite often your arms will hurt afterward (it means you're doing it right). The point is to shake until you are sure the egg is fully integrated with the rest of the drink.

  • Create an egg foam. While egg whites add foam to cocktails, you can also make a separate egg foam to add to drinks. It is a fun, semi-advanced bartending technique that is very easy if you have a whipped cream maker (also called a "whipper"). It can really make you look like a pro and adds a great touch to the top of drinks. 

Rare Egg Liquors

There are a few distilled spirits that are characterized by the use of eggs. One common liqueur is the Dutch advocaat, and there is a German counterpart called eierlikoer. Other egg liqueurs can be found, especially during the holiday season, and they're often referred to as "eggnog liqueur." Essentially, many are premixed eggnog with the alcohol already added.

Egg Cocktails

Over the years, egg cocktails had periods of popularity. There were times when they fell into near obscurity, though the interest has often been renewed as well. Due to this, you will find a great variety of old and new drink recipes to try.

Among the oldest egg cocktails are those like the brandy milk punch and Tom and Jerry. These are rather eggnog-like, comforting on cold winter nights, and holiday favorites. Then, you have classics that come out of the old cocktail lounges like the Clover Club and million dollar cocktail. Many of these were created by the best bartenders from the golden age of cocktails and remain icons in the bar scene.

Sour, fizz, and flip drinks commonly use an egg as well. This includes classics like the gin fizz and pisco sour. Quite often, you can skip the egg to produce a perfectly fine cocktail with any of these recipes.

While many modern drinkers shy away from raw eggs in their cocktails, mixologists love the ingredient. It's become a popular addition to new recipes because it brings in a classic style while playing with intriguing flavor combinations.

Article Sources
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  1. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Get the Facts About Salmonella. Animal Health Literacy; FDA.gov. 2020.

  2. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Shell Eggs From Farm to Table. Food Safety Education; USDA.gov. 2020.

  3. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Shell Eggs From Farm to Table. Food Safety Education; USDA.gov. 2020.