Some post-Easter fun with those leftover eggs:
Want to amuse yourself when friends come over? Ask them if they want a cocktail and see their faces light up. Then ask how they feel about egg whites in their drink and watch them shudder.
It’s too bad, because a properly made cocktail with egg whites – traditionally called a Flip – is divine. It is frothy, foamy and light, NOT slimy or thick. And the perfect choice when I’ve done a kick-ass barre3 workout and later need some extra protein (this is my excuse to go from barre to bar).
I have to admit the process can be messy. Separating the egg white from the yolk isn’t too difficult, but I find the current accepted shaking technique to be drippy and annoying. Also, some people are wary of salmonella*, although I also don’t avoid cookie dough or a Caesar salad for that reason.
In the name of research I launched my Great Egg White Experiment to find the best products and approach. I tried pasteurized powdered eggs, pasteurized carton egg whites, chilled eggs and not, shaking with crushed ice, cubed ice and no ice. Yeah, I totaled a lot of cocktails! And I found a great solution. Read on for the best method, plus recipes of course!
Challenging the Accepted Wisdom of The Double Shake
The double shake is considered the best way to emulsify a drink with egg whites. It calls for adding together the egg white and all ingredients and shaking well first with no ice, then adding ice and shaking well again. The problem is that opening the shaker to add the ice creates a drippy mess down the sides and an unacceptable loss of liquor! But it does create good froth…too much of it, actually. It ends up reminding me of a bad tap pour; I don’t want that much head on my beer or my cocktail.
What if we skip that first shake without ice. What happens? A sad, forlorn layer of foam is the result. Looking at it, you’d barely know it was a flip. Drinking it, you’d miss the creamy texture.
In other attempts I did have slightly better results doing a solo shake with crushed ice instead of cubed. Maybe all the small pieces served to better whip the egg white. But while respectable, it still wasn’t the ideal amount of foam. A chilled egg versus one kept at room temperature also didn’t make a difference.
Powdered vs Carton Egg Whites
For those concerned about food-borne illness, using a pasteurized product is an option. For a head-to-head competition I made the same drink using each.
I found the powdered egg whites in the baking section at the grocery store and followed the directions to reconstitute it by mixing 2 tablespoons of powder with 1 ounce of warm water. Then I mixed and mixed. Even using my tiny whisk it was difficult to get the clumps out and rather tedious.
For the competition I used Eggbeaters Egg Whites, managing to find a carton without added coloring, unlike the last time when the “yellow” egg whites turned my drink baby shit brown. Yuck.
Employing the double-shake technique (see above) for both, I deemed the Eggbeaters to be the clear winner. Not only was it easier with no extra mixing, it produced the perfect amount of foam. The powdered eggs, perhaps because of the pre-whisking, just produced too much foam. Both drinks tasted and felt exactly the same while drinking.
Sticking to fresh eggs because they are always on hand, I tried another approach. If this is recommended elsewhere, I haven’t seen it so I’ll consider it my “breakthrough.” But I will let you use it because I’m nice like that.
Woo hoo, let’s celebrate with a couple of drinks I used during my mad science trials:
The PC Fizz – from the MixShakeStir cocktail book1 ½ oz Pimm’s No. 1 ½ oz chartreuse (either yellow or green) 1 oz simple syrup ¾ oz lemon juice ¾ oz lime juice 1 egg white pinch of pumpkin pie spice to garnish
Add egg white to shaker and whisk (use a fork or small whisk) until foamy. Add all ingredients (except pie spice) and ice, and shake well. Strain into an ice-filled highball glass, garnish with a pinch of pumpkin pie spice on top of the foam and enjoy. Note: I like this drink with either green chartreuse for a brighter drink or the yellow for a mellower version.
The next drink is a classic. Pink and tasty:
The Pink Lady1 ½ oz gin ½ oz applejack ¾ oz lemon juice ¼ oz grenadine 1 egg white
Add egg white to shaker and whisk (use a fork or small whisk) until foamy. Add all ingredients and ice, and shake well. Strain into a wine glass.
So now you have no excuses. Pasteurized carton egg whites are as tasty in drinks as fresh. Whisking the egg white is less messy than alternatives. Using egg whites provides texture and elegance to cocktails. It’s time to mug a chicken.
*what, actually, is the risk of salmonella poisoning from an egg white? Very small according to Lawrence Pong, principal health inspector and manager of food-borne illness outbreak investigations for the Department of Public Health in San Francisco: “Egg whites are alkaline in nature, and salmonella colonies cannot survive there.” Plus it seems that the alcohol present in cocktail would also inhibit bacteria.