It’s hard work to make a proper Ramos Gin Fizz. In fact, many would argue that if your arms aren’t burning after making one, then it’s probably not a proper Ramos. The amount of time one should spend shaking the drink has been built into its mythos all the way back to its very invention by Henry C. Ramos in the 1880s. So, too, has the ingenuity to solve for it. Ramos’ fix? A line of “shaker men” who’d hand off the drink, like a relay, until it was perfectly frothed.
Today, you’ll find dozens of hacks aimed at efficiency, including the use of a bubble tea shaker, “handheld immersion blenders, milkshake spindles or wire whisk balls,” as Kara Newman writes in her survey of Ramos workarounds for PUNCH. No inventor in this realm has perhaps gone quite as far as Humberto Marques, bartender and owner of Curfew in Copenhagen, a popular cocktail bar known for its detail-oriented drinks and museum of vintage books, bar equipment and glasses on full display.
In a quest to fulfill a decadelong dream, Marques developed a modern take on the classic Cole shaker, a hand-crank machine with two glass cylinders. Originally used as milkshake machines from 1890s to the early 1900s, they eventually made their way behind the bar, becoming an early shortcut for drinks like the flip and the Ramos. “The beverage shaking and mixing machines, as they were called back in 1890s, were used for cocktails using milk, eggs, phosphate, etc.,” says Marques. “So, this machine was not only used for the Ramos Gin Fizz, but for any cocktails using eggs and cream. We have a ‘forgotten’ cocktail on the menu called Lala Rookh Fizz, which contains rum, Cognac, lime, vanilla and cream. It needs to shake for a long time.”
Marques’ revamped Cole shaker is 10 years in the making. After seeing a scene from the 1937 movie Plainsman, in which a woman behind the bar uses the Cole shaker to make a bourbon cocktail for a cowboy who waltzes into her saloon, Marques went down a rabbit hole, searching live auctions and eBay, to acquire one. While he didn’t initially locate the Cole shaker itself, his internet search led him to a similar device from Beverage Shaking and Mixing Machines, Patented Apr. 2, 1889. He figured that if he couldn’t find one, he might as well make one.
“The shaker we built was inspired by the Cole shaker, but we changed the shape, so the motion is like a V-motor in a car, which creates a much faster motion,” says Marques. “So instead of the shakers going straight up and down, they are angled like a V, moving in an angle up and down.”
He wanted it to have a 19th-century look, with glossy paint, brass and a walnut wood base. After multiple delays with acquiring parts and an absentee builder, he finally received the model he’d designed. There was just one problem: “It was a failure and just a piece of shit,” says Marques. “It wasn’t functional.”
There was, however, one silver lining: While the prototype was in production, Marques was finally able to buy an original Cole shaker from a live auction in the United States. After having it restored by a patron’s brother, it’s now proudly mounted on the bar at Curfew, where he puts it to work for cocktails that contains eggs or cream, like flips, Whiskey Sours and, of course, Ramos Gin Fizzes. He still plans to rebuild his own, but for now, he’s simply satisfied to have 10 years of sleuthing pay off.
“To have a beautiful, unique original piece [and] to save a piece of history in my bar and put it to use where the guest can see and learn a bit from the past… In the end all my trouble and hard work sourcing this was worth it,” says Marques.