At Tales of the Cocktail this year, media types like myself were guaranteed access to five seminars. I had exhausted my five — but there was one more I wanted to check out: “The Eggpire Strikes Back.” Yes, this was a session dedicated to the subject of eggs in cocktails.
My fascination with this topic goes back to 1992, when we featured a Port Flip on ROX. As memory serves it was quite tasty, despite our best efforts to do everything wrong. And of course I was aware that many “flips” and other eggy drinks appear frequently in old cocktail books. They fell out of favor long ago, but could they be making a comeback? I’d already had two flips at Tales so far.
But first a word from our sponsor.
Each seminar at Tales has at least one sponsor. Usually they are spirit brands. Sometimes they are an obvious match with the subject matter at hand — sometimes less so. In this case, who’s going to sponsor a session on eggs?
Geranium Gin, that’s who. The connection to eggs is beyond tenuous. But no one complained, as we enjoyed what Henrik Hammer billed as the first tasting of Geranium in the USA. (You can read more about Geranium on A Mountain of Crushed Ice.) Let me just say this: quite possibly the best gin I’ve ever tasted. Delicious with just a little water to open it up. I hope it’s available in New Orleans soon.
In the picture above, the Geranium is on the left. The mysterious yellow stuff on the right was staring me in the face unexplained until the very end of the session. So I’ll come back to it.
On to the panel.
One Dane, one South African, and one Dutch guy. As Andrew Nicholls said, “If we were any more laid back, we’d be horizontal.” But that was not really true, because when it came to the subject matter of at hand they evinced an intensity that could not be ignored.
Timo Janse seemed to do most of the talking. He’s a bartender at Door 74, the first and only bar in Amsterdam to bring back fresh eggs in their mixology.
Hold on, because we need top have a cocktail right about now.
I kept thinking I was hearing the name wrong, but this was indeed a “Coffee Cocktail” even though it doesn’t have any coffee. It does, of course, have an egg. Here’s one recipe.
1 oz cognac
1 oz ruby port
1 small egg
1/2 tsp sugar
Shake all ingredients well with ice and strain into a small wine or port glass. Dust with nutmeg, and serve.
Very similar to that Port Flip we had 18 years ago.
Appropriately fortified, we began an extended exploration of eggs in art, literature, and culture at large. We considered the age-old conundrum of “which came first?” According to Timo, the bible in Genesis 1:19-22 makes clear it was the chicken. The theory of evolution, on the other hand, would seem to indicate the egg came first. From a Buddhist perspective, the question simply doesn’t matter, but I forget why.
Did you know the bible only has six egg references? Are Christians anti-egg? Other religions accord the egg much greater prominence. This line of reasoning inspired me to wonder if hardcore anti-abortion activists eat eggs — and if so, how do they justify it?
According to some, the death of Francesco de Medici was a result of experimentation with egg drinks, but I think this 400 year old mystery has not been solved.
From here we delved into the anatomy of the egg. Each egg has an air sac toward one end. A smaller air sac is better, apparently, at least as far as we’re concerned, though I’m not sure how one controls for that.
At greater length, we considered the complexities of washing and refrigerating eggs. It seems that they come out of the chicken with a protective mucous membrane, so it was recommended not to wash them — except perhaps immediately before use. Unfortunately they may be washed before they even get to the store. I made a mental note to check with my community garden about this, since we get fresh eggs from there on a regular basis.
We discussed a pre-swizzle technique which was recommended as a method to get the best foamy consistency from your eggs. My notes are missing crucial details on this because I got distracted by our next cocktail.
The Clover Club was born in Philly. It’s pink and nutritious.
Where were we? We learned of the use of egg white in sours — a technique of which I was not previously aware.
At last we came around to the salmonella threat. It was helpful to compare eggs to lettuce, for example. The risk level from lettuce is greater than the risk from eggs. It seems most food poisoning comes from fruits and veggies. As far as eggs go, salmonella if present is almost exclusively on the outer shell, so it might make sense to rinse immediately before use. It takes three to five weeks to develop, so insist on fresh eggs. Furthermore, salmonella can’t survive in a solution of more than 17.5% alcohol. If you make your drinks stiff enough, there shouldn’t be any risk.
Time for one last cocktail.
Yeah. I didn’t catch the name of this cocktail but it certainly rocked. Egg + carrot juice + gin + absinthe. I think there was something apple in there too, but the carrot was dominant. We should have more carrot cocktails.
Anyone know what this might be called?
We also gave passing consideration to the Chinese delicacy known as the “century egg.” Alas, we did not have any on hand to sample, so I offer this photo by Lee LeFever.
Doesn’t that look yummy?
In lieu of a century egg, we sampled a little advocaat. I guess I might as well reference that same photo again.
On the right is some advocaat, a liqueur made from eggs, sugar and brandy. It’s rich, creamy, thick as can be, and very tasty. It’s so thick it’s more of a paste than a liquid. I’d classify it more as an alcoholic custard rather than a drink.
All in all, an informative and enjoyable seminar. Well done.