Pop the Cork: Not Your Average Protein Shakes
Our ‘once upon a time’ starts in the 16th century with the posset – a thick, spiced and tart beverage made from milk, lemon juice, cream, sugar and a splash of wine or ale. Tasty as it sounds, it was drunk mostly for people then to keep the cold or flu at bay. If you’re a literature student and wondering why your Shakespearean senses are tingling, you’ve probably read about it in Lady Macbeth. The eggs, however, weren’t consumed raw as the drink was warmed over the stove but this set the precedent for good ol’ eggnog you drown in bourbon, rum and brandy to tide you over one too many family gatherings.
The posset birthed another drink called the Flip, a frothy concoction of beer, rum and sugar. It’s a fun foamy way to get inebriated; a red iron was used to heat the mixture till it bubbled, similar to baristas foaming a cup of milk. Jerry Thomas, also known as the father of American mixology, christened it a cocktail in his legendary list of recipes in the Bar-Tender’s Guide published in 1862.
It’s no coincidence the late 19th century was saw bartenders transition from grumpy guy at the counter to suave masters of mixology. Another discovery that has completely changed the way we enjoy our spirits: adding egg whites (albumen) to recreate the same full-bodied taste cream or milk gives without altering a drink’s flavour. In fact, the whites work exceptionally well with acidic tipples as the acid stabilises the egg protein and prevents the molecules from binding with each other. This is why cocktails such as the Pisco sour have such impeccable foam. The more sour a drink is, the smaller the bubbles and nicer looking foam.
There’s more to a gorgeous head of white than a chemical reaction. The key – shake it hard. Just as how sugar and egg whites turn into meringue after an energetic whipping, the same goes for cocktails. A stellar (or notorious) example to illustrate the enthusiasm for shaking one’s cocktail is the Ramos gin fizz. Henry C. Ramos of the Imperial Cabinet Saloon in New Orleans invented this creamy thirst quencher in 1888 that got lots of attention for its 12-minute mixing time. Fortunately for bartenders of today, the legendary preparation is nothing more than a good story to tell.