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Xiphias Gladius

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Technology and the Ramos Gin Fizz [Jul. 28th, 2008|02:06 pm]
Xiphias Gladius

The Ramos Gin Fizz is a delicious and interesting drink. It involves cream, egg white, gin, sugar, and citrus juice (both lemon and lime). And also carbonated water. And optional orange flower water.

Now, you might think that including cream and citrus in the same drink would be stupid because it would lead to curdling, but the Ramos Gin Fizz deals with this by shaking the drink so hard and long that the sucker emulsifies, and, if there WAS any curdling, the stuff was beaten back into foam along with everything else. You end up with something along the lines of a gin creamsicle. But with a creamy, foamy, fizzy texture.

Traditionally, a Ramos Gin Fizz is shaken for, like, five minutes. And Henry Ramos himself, when he was at the Columbia Exposition or the World's Fair or someplace like that -- I can't remember exactly where -- had hired something like thirty strong young guys to shake the drinks for him. With them tossing the shaker to the next guy when they got tired.

But, when I was at the "Introduction to Molecular Mixology" panel -- which will be the next panel I write up -- Jamie Boudreau mixed one up using a little hand mixer, something like a Dremel, but smaller.

And why not? Wouldn't this be the kind of drink that would be better made in a blender than by shaking?

I made one up in my Blendtec, and it worked great. So is there any reason to make a Ramos Gin Fizz by shaking any more?

I think there are two reasons -- and they're both good reasons. "Tradition", and "the show".

Some people make Ramos Gin Fizzes the way that Ramos made them, because that's how Henry Ramos made them.. They've been made that way for 120 years, Huey Long brought bartenders from New Orleans to New York in order to teach New York bartenders the PROPER way to do it, and, if it was good enough for the Kingfish of Louisiana, that should be good enough for us. Changing the method is tantamount to sacrilege.

And I respect that. I think there is, and will always be, a place in mixology and bartending for tradition and drinking in a way that connects us to our history. After all, eating and drinking are some of the most basic ways to build community; alcohol is part of hospitality. And tying us to community and history is one of the purposes of hospitality. They're all interrelated, and making a drink in precisely the way it has always been made is important.

Another reason is "The Show". People don't come to bars to drink, only. They come to socialize -- and to be entertained. If you are sitting at the bar, you want, and are paying for, the ability to watch the bartender work. And if you're paying eight, ten, twelve, twenty dollars for a drink, you deserve something to watch. And the best bartenders are always worth watching. Watching a top bartender shaking a Ramos Gin Fizz is beautiful.

However, there is nonetheless a place for technology, as well. If the quality of the drink is better in a blender, or if it's the same quality but you can get it in one minute instead of five, isn't that an improvement?

The answer, of course, is that different bars have different auras and meanings. If you are at a bar whose purpose is tradition, you deserve the tradition. If you are at a bar who's purpose is innovation, then THAT'S what you deserve, because it's what you're paying for.

And I think that there are ways we can do both, too. What about getting a paint shaker, and modifying it slightly to accept cocktail shaker tins? We could have the tradition of shaking, in a format that would be fun to watch, yet with the benefits of shorter times and less arm strain of bartenders. It would only be good for certain types and styles of bars -- but I think that it could be great fun in those.

[User Picture]From: brooksmoses
2008-07-28 06:24 pm (UTC)
Interesting -- I wonder if the little blender you describe is something like the "cappucino foamer" that mom my inexplicably got me as a Christmas present a couple of years ago. It's battery-powered, with a motor part just large enough to mostly hide in a fist, and a wire coming out that has a spiral loop (a torus 1.5cm in major diameter and 4mm in minor) on the end.

I've discovered that, although I thought it would be entirely useless as I don't drink cappucinos or anything like them, it's actually marvelous for making whipped cream a few tablespoonfuls at a time, in a teacup. And this is a useful thing to have for leftover pie or whatnot.
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[User Picture]From: dancing_kiralee
2008-07-28 09:15 pm (UTC)
You know, I don't think you have to justify it... you can just say, "some people like tradition" or "some people like the show," or even, "because some people like them shaken."

That really ought to be enough... and I find the idea that it might not be enough *horrifying*


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