Death, Taxes and…Ramos Fizz?

I’ve recently started actually reading “The New American Bartenders Guide,” (John J. Poister) rather than using it as a reference book or something to thumb through when I’m a little on the bored side to find some kind of historical anecdote or fact to throw at patrons when they’re being irritating about “who knows more.” Not that I’d ever throw barbs at a patron who was trying to belittle my knowledge as a bartender by commenting that I had it way easier because I had T&A and a pretty face…

That being said, it would seem prudent for me to feature a drink with every post- because who knows, maybe there’s something ya’ll haven’t heard of. Today? Gin! And then, since I got myself thinking about patrons who like to try and trip their bartenders up because of some sort of misguided hobby based in watching other people fail, lets look at a Ramos Gin Fizz.

We all know that gin is made, at its root, with juniper berries and then you have thousands of variations on that theme (ha, I made a classical music joke) with additions of different spices (coriander?) and extracts to change the notes of the flavor. Some people will not touch the stuff, though personally I’m a pretty big fan because to me it tastes like Christmas. It’s also the first alcohol I ever tried, thanks to a friend of mine who was working in Europe with me when I was 19 who’d sneak me sips of his periodically. (Yes, I know the drinking age in Europe is below 21, but we were an American group and I was a well-behaved girl at the time. I know, shocking.) Interestingly enough, we’ve got a spirits manufacturer here in N. Florida that I absolutely love. I’ve only been luck enough to sample their gin currently, but I think I’ll have to make a trip to get a tour for the rest of it.

St. George Spirits, located on St. George Island- beginning as a single man distillery operation, having grown slowly over the past 35 years with a staggering amount integrity and commitment.

But onto the drink recipe. Depending on what the kind of bar you work in, you’re either slinging drinks and keeping a few shot recipes on top of your head because you’ve got 600 people in your club, or you’ve got 12 and they all want every bit of your attention focused on the drink they just ordered. Some bars are kind of in the middle of this (like mine.)

  • 2 oz. Gin
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. sugar syrup (Simple syrup)
  • 1 tsp. heavy cream
  • few dashes of orange flower water
  • 1 egg white (technically for 2 drinks, most bartenders I know use 1/1)
  • Club soda

Mix everything except the club soda in a shaker over ice and shake the hell out of it. There’s kind of a circular motion you’ll learn over time because what you’re effectively doing is making merengue out of the egg whites. When you check on it, you want to see a “stiff” white foam like seen below. I promise, if you think you’ve done enough, you probably haven’t. The tip I was given was “100 shakes” or 6–8 minutes.

What properly beaten egg whites look like.

Once you’re all done with that, pour the entire thing into a tall Collins glass, fill it the rest up with club soda and stir it gently before serving.

Now, this drink, while a pain to make, is pretty tasty so I don’t usually get too mad about making them unless I haven’t remembered to bring eggs or the flower water in. But, what about this death and taxes stuff?

The way I look at it, there’s really only a few things that are concrete in my life (and maybe yours too, I dunno): Death, Taxes, my insomnia, and the fact that people are going to be walking into bars to buy alcohol at the end of a work day. I see the same groups for my happy hour every week- I know most of them pretty well and after a few years of being around the same bar, some of them I even consider friends who have really helped in times that I was on my last thread. So we talk when we’re there; about life and philosophy, about music, sometimes about politics but we all know each other so well at this point that we sort of just glaze over it. Especially because it’s a bar with a long standing gay patronage so we’re all pretty solid on where everyone stands.

But as always you have new faces walk in the door. And inevitably, at 1 am in a bar- all conversations turn to religion and politics. I don’t know why this is, I’ve wracked my brain trying to figure out what causes this existential switch that people just want to be validated about the things that are going to be keeping them awake once they go home alone. Though, maybe that’s my answer.

Most bartenders I know don’t allow politics talk in their bars because people can get amped, and drunk people can be even moreso. I don’t personally mind it too much because I think it’s a pretty interesting cross section of humanity. When someone is drunk, they’re not really hiding who they are underneath the social norm. That makes me sound like some sort of voyeur and while I won’t confirm or deny that I’m some kind of deviant, I’m definitely going to admit that watching people is one of my favorite parts about being a bartender. It’s like living in a fishbowl that I can get out of at the end of the day to do my own thing, but the constant entertainment certainly keeps me from being bored.

Stark, out.