Let's imagine you've still got some raw eggs you didn't manage to boil up for Easter. You're standing there at the open fridge door, asking yourself the usual question: "Can I combine this with booze? And if so, how?"
Back in the day, unfertilized chicken embryos were a staple bar ingredient, dropping raw eggs into flips, nogs, sours, fizzes, certain cocktails, and other things relatively few people drink anymore. Over time, eggy drinks fell out of fashion (there seems to be a lot more talk of them in my cocktail books from before prohibition than after).
The craft cocktail revival is bringing eggs back to the bar. Still, bartenders tell me it tends to be the connoisseurs, the intrepid explorers of cocktailology, who take the plunge. Casual drinkers, don't let us have all the fun.
I blame a culture of fear around food and the gradual narrowing of the North American palate. I could go on about people's food anxieties. It's enough to say that eggy cocktails are a lot tastier than you'd imagine, and suitable for people who don't like the flavour of a cooked egg.
Apparently people expect the addition of raw egg to make a drink slimy and chunky and taste like eggs.
No. If you only use the white, the protein creates a layer of froth that sits atop the liquid, turning the cocktail into something delicate, silky and soft. And egg whites have little to no flavour themselves, so the drink will not taste like egg.
My fellow Canadian Darcy O'Neil explains here at Art of Drink: "The main protein (ovalbumin), in eggs, is a tightly wound molecule and when it is shaken or beaten, it unravels. Think of shaking a big box full of slinkies and then trying to sort them out."
People also hesitate because of fears over salmonella. It might help to know that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration estimates that these harmful bacteria infect just one egg out of 20,000 in the United States. That's a big number; it would take you 55 years to consume 20,000 eggs at a rate of one a day.
And on top of that, while I'm no scientist, I also figure alcohol is a disinfectant. If that's a spurious argument, I'm happy to be corrected on it. Of course, some people have compromised immune systems and won't want to take unnecessary risks no matter what the odds. Fair enough.
But if you're willing to get cracking, visit That Sweet Burn to check out a few recipes. Here's a teaser.
There are other unrelated concoctions going around calling themselves by this name. This one is an evolved species of flip and is adapted from Hugo Ensslin's Recipes for Mixed Drinks (1917); I amended it to egg white only, cutting out the yolk. It requires you to track down orgeat syrup and orange flower water, but you'll be glad you did. As a hint, Italian specialty food stores often have the former, and Middle Eastern stores the latter. Or you can just Google them and order online.
• 2 oz. rye whisky
• ½ oz. orgeat
• white of 1 egg
• 2 dashes -- say, 1/8 tsp. -- orange flower water
• dash of freshly grated nutmeg to garnish
Method: In a cocktail shaker half filled with ice, add all ingredients except nutmeg. Seal and shake vigorously until frothy (one minute should do it) and strain into chilled rocks glass. Add dash of nutmeg across the surface.
Remember: Always shake egg drinks very hard and until a thick froth develops. If your arms can't take it, some people use a hand blender instead.
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