Egg white cocktails : why and how to use egg white in your drinks.
Egg white cocktails… If you’re a cocktail novice, it’s likely that the word ‘egg white’ produces images of a semi transparent, sticky and slimy liquid in your brain…no wonder you’re put off by it when you see it written on cocktail lists.
While you are right -that is egg white- , what you’re not taking into consideration is the processing and the derived transformation in its texture. The deliciousness that comes out of the shaker is very similar to the fluffy consistency of meringue..now, that sounds much better, doesn’t it?
In this article you’ll find all your egg white questions and doubts answered, plus some good substitutes you can use if you’re allergic, vegan or if you’re simply not sold on the idea by the end of your read.
WHAT IS EGG WHITE AND WHY DOES IT FLUFFS UP?
Egg white is the clear slimy liquid contained inside the egg, whose main purpose in nature is to protect the yolk. It is made up of about 90% of water and 10% of protein and it contains no fats or carbohydrates. It is not particularly flavorsome in its raw unadulterated form and this is why humans have developed endless creative ways of spicing things up when dealing with egg whites.
So, how is it possible to change its texture so dramatically? in other words, why does egg white becomes fluffy?
The answer is, as always, in science. In their normal form, the proteins in our egg white are like crumpled up headphones wires: tightly laced up together in a compact blob. By whisking them, one is essentially ‘sorting them out’ by unfolding them. This causes them to create new bonds with air and water so not to fall apart…In fact, by whisking the eggs, one is also introducing a lot of air into the mix. The air gets incorporated by the newly denatured protein in tiny ‘air pockets’ that become smaller and smaller as the whisking continues. All the ‘air pockets’combined create the egg white foam.
WHY IS IT USED IN COCKTAILS?
Egg white in cocktails is used simply for textural and aesthetic reasons.
Egg white in itself is virtually tasteless, so it won’t add any ‘eggy’ flavors in your cocktail. What it will add is a richer, somewhat velvety texture to the drink and an attractive foam. The egg white foam in cocktails is formed according to the same principle I explained above. It won’t become as stiff as meringue peaks because of all the other liquids in the shaker but it will still be stable enough to add an element of luxury to the drinking experience. And the white background it creates is simply perfect to highlight any kind of garnish.
HOW TO USE EGG WHITES IN COCKTAILS
What you really want from egg white is a beautiful thick foam to sit at the top of your cocktail. The key to achieve this is in the way you shake the drink, so in the way you break up the proteins and incorporate them in the drink. Here are a few points to keep in mind.
- Quantity : One small egg white per cocktail is enough to create a nice foam. That is approximately 25ml of egg white. So, if the thought of cracking open an egg every time you need to make a drink is bothering you, don’t worry: you can avoid the mess by separating your eggs in advance. They keep fine for a couple of days in the fridge.
- Shaker : the best one for egg white cocktails is a Boston shaker or a Parisian shaker. They are the largest types of shakers which means that the liquid will travel a longer distance between ends, allowing for greater aeration. This is something desirable when working with egg white because it will help to form a more stable foam.
- Time : Egg white cocktails require a slightly longer ‘shaking time’. This is because the ingredients in the cocktail usually have very different densities and molecular structure which need a little more effort to mix together.
- Force : Egg white cocktails need a more energetic type of shake in order to seamlessly combine all their elements. Time and force are almost interchangeable when making this kind of drinks, although mastering and using the two together will produce a superior cocktail.
- Technique : Egg white cocktails need a little more effort to mix…At the same time, no-one wants an over-diluted cocktail. There are a few techniques bartenders use to avoid this potential side effect. One is to shake the drinks twice: ‘dry shake’ all the ingredients (without ice) first and then shake them again with ice second, it’s possible to do this in the reverse order so: shake the drink with ice first, ‘reverse dry shake’ it without ice second. At home, you can also use a simple hand-held small milk frother to achieve the same result with less effort. These techniques ensure that the egg whites are well beaten and incorporated in the drink without producing excessive dilution.
IS IT SAFE TO USE EGG WHITE IN COCKTAILS?
The big question. Everyone’s main concern when thinking ‘raw eggs’ is a bacteria called Salmonella. Salmonella is a nasty thing that will make you ill giving you nausea, diarrhea, stomach pain and fever. Salmonella can enter eggs through the pores in its egg or during its development if coming from an infected animal.
There is never a guarantee that the fresh egg you’ll be drinking doesn’t contain the bacteria, however it is worth reminding that modern days checks and tests are very rigorous and safe so it is very unlikely and rare to develop salmonella through the consumption of raw eggs.
Most counties adopted standardized government certifications that require farmers to vaccine the animal against Salmonella, to periodically check them and to test the eggs before selling them. In the Uk, for example, the vast majority of eggs are produced under the ‘British Lion’ mark and are even deemed safe for consumption of pregnant women, elderly people and young children. This said, there are always a few things that you should consider when using eggs in your drinks:
- Always use the freshest available eggs. If in doubt, you can do the classic ‘floating test’: place the egg in water, if it floats it means that the egg is old, if it sinks, the egg is fresh.
- Never use eggs with cracked shells, foul odor or liquid rather then gooey white.
- As a general rule, avoid raw egg whites if pregnant or sick.
- Don’t crack open the shell hitting the inside of the cocktail shaker – it’s not hygienic.
- Consider using pasteurized egg whites. You can either pasteurize them yourself, or buy them by the carton (just make sure to pick the one with shortest list of ingredients or it won’t foam up as nicely)
EGG WHITES SUBSTITUTES FOR COCKTAILS
If you read all this and you’re still not sold on the idea of egg whites cocktails, I got you covered! Thankfully, you can still obtain a luscious foam to cap your drinks using alternative products. I wrote all about it here.
EXAMPLES OF EGG WHITES COCKTAILS
There are quite literally thousands of egg white cocktails scattered in cocktail books, menus and notepads around the world. Those are just two nice examples but check out this list of ’15 egg white cocktails for every occasion’.
Clover Club – this link will take you to one of the best original recipes of the drink, devised by Julie Reynolds who’s the woman responsible for reviving this cocktail. She’s also the owner of the ‘Clover Club’ in New York -so she knows what’s she’s talking about! Measurements in milliliters are : 45ml gin, 15ml dry vermouth, 15ml lemon juice, 15ml raspberry syrup, 20ml egg white. More modern versions of the drink omit the vermouth in their recipe, so if you don’t have a bottle handy it’s not a big deal.
Henry Hall – this is a zesty and refreshing take on a ‘Bees Knees’ cocktail that I created to be the signature cocktail of the American bar in the Gleneagles Hotel.
My name is Lulu and I am a cocktail creatress, menu developer, consultant and blogger based in the wonderful Scottish highlands.
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This is a topic that I really wanted to cover as very often I have to explain to guests the reason we use egg whites in cocktails and persuade them to try one because I think they are missing out on something great to drink.
But what do you think? will you experiment with egg whites or will you stick to no eggs or the substitutes?
As usual, let me know your thoughts or questions in the comment section below and do share this article if it made you think!
’till next time!