August 6: Henry C. Ramos

RamosOn August 7, 1856 Henry “Carl” Ramos was born in Vincennes, Indiana, to German-born parents. Ramos’ family moved to New Orleans when he was a child, and it was there that Ramos became one of America’s all time great barmen.

Although there have been more theatrical bartenders (Professor Jerry Thomas) and bartenders who have started whole cocktail movements (Trader Vic and Don the Beachcomber), Ramos was as professional as a barman could be. He never allowed drunkenness or rowdy behavior in his Imperial Cabinet bar in New Orleans and if he learned that one of his customers was in dire straits, he’d offer personal or financial assistance.

However, Ramos’ lasting contribution to cocktail culture is his signature drink, the Ramos Gin Fizz. The Ramos is one of my favorite drinks. It’s sweet, creamy, and citrusy, with a nice fizzy kick. It’s a bit labor intensive, so you rarely see it on cocktail menus these days, but it was incredibly popular in Ramos’ day. In fact, it was so popular that during Mardi Gras in 1915, Ramos employed a team of 35 bartenders to pass cocktail shakers filled with Ramos Gin Fizzes from one bartender to the next, shaking the drink up in the process. Ramos retired from the bartending game in 1918, but wisely published his recipe, so we can enjoy it today.

Ramos Gin Fizz

  • 2 ounces London Dry Gin
  • 1 ounce heavy cream
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons superfine sugar
  • 2 to 3 drops orange flower water

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake for one to two minutes. Speaking from personal experience, you may want to wear gloves. After shaking, strain into a chilled Collins glass. Top with chilled seltzer water or club soda.  Don’t substitute orange juice or orange liqueur for the orange flower water. It has a taste and fragrance that is unrelated to the orange. You can find orange flower water at BevMo or any fine drink supply store.

Finally, a VERY Important Note about using egg in drinks. The safer option is to buy a carton of pasteurized egg whites. However, if you’re a traditionalist (as I am), you’ll choose the tougher option and split the egg. Now, the best way to do this is to gently crack the egg over the mixing glass and then peel the shell apart. Use the two shell halves to carefully transfer the egg yolk between the two shell halves, and pour the egg whites in to the bowl. Continue this process until you have all the whites you need. Be very careful not to break the yolk. Remember to wash your hands thoroughly. Finally, I should remind you that using real eggs in drinks carries a slight risk of salmonella, but your drink should be fine and really delicious if you completely separate the yolk from the whites.

Tomorrow: The worst uniform in sports history.


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