The frothy Ramos Gin Fizz, a gin- and egg-white based drink richened with cream, is famed for its rigorous, bicep-straining, 12-minute shake. But some argue that the process can be whittled down to a mere two minutes.
“Actually, it’s just over a minute and a half,” confides Tom Richter, who honed an express-lane version of the original recipe while manning the bar at New York’s Dear Irving, using a technique inspired by pastry chefs.
Richter, now spirits and sake portfolio manager for David Bowler Wine, says he was first introduced to the idea by Otis Florence of Attaboy. Compared to the standard technique, which involves a lengthy shake without ice (“dry shake”) followed by a quick shake with ice to chill, Florence reversed the order, and used ice pellets instead of larger cubes. That brief “whip shake”—so called because the agitation with small pieces of ice whips the cream into a thicker consistency, much in the same way that a pastry chef might employ a whisk—helps speed up the drink-making process.
“It was good, fast, but funky,” Richter recalls. “The foam wasn’t quite right.” Back at Dear Irving, he tinkered further with the technique, eventually hitting on two small changes that would bring the drink together: omitting the cream until the very end of the process, and omitting the dry shake altogether.
“You don’t put the cream in at first because it kills the foam,” he notes. Beginning with the egg white, gin, simple syrup, citrus and orange flower water, Richter shakes the drink with two Kold Draft cubes, then adds in pebble ice and cream, and shakes it again.
Compared to the large bubbles created by dry shaking, Richter says, this final shake with pellet ice yields tiny bubbles, which are more foamy than bubbly, yielding that meringue-like, puffy cap—the hallmark of a good RGF. “It keeps it really tight,” he explains. “The texture is awesome. It’s a… better drink because it’s not as watered down.”
No pebble ice? Richter offers a handful of alternatives, ranging from using a bar spoon to crack a large cube into smaller, pellet-like pieces; tossing the spring from a Hawthorne strainer into the shaker (“I haven’t tried it,” he admits. “But it could work.”); or using wire whisk balls typically used in protein shakers.
Of course, this isn’t the first time someone has tried to find a shortcut to build a faster Ramos Gin Fizz, but many of those techniques involve tweaks (plopping in ice cream, for example) that veer the cocktail too far from its original DNA.
“It’s good to be fast,” says Richter. “But it’s better to be the right drink.”