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Egg Whites, Emulsifying, Tricks and Tips


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Hi,

First post here.

A little background: I’m relatively new to the cocktail world (2.5 years), recently falling into a job that allows me an incredible amount of flexibility to experiment. Not having an “education” in craft cocktails – more of the bang-‘em-out-fast, don’t-worry-about-balance-because-this-dude-could-care-less sort of place – I’ve spent the last year in a much better spot teaching myself as much as possible with varying success.

Now to my point. I’ve been following the thread about molecular mixology, and the discussions about foam (xanthium, egg whites, etc), but I was wondering more about method. I’m currently making a bourbon fizz:

2 oz Knob Creek

1 oz simple syrup

0.75 oz lemon juice

1 egg white

seltzer

a few drops of blood orange bitters on top of foam.

Every time I make this drink I’m haunted by an amazing gin fizz I had at Little Branch, where the bartender created a thick foam layer, dropped some Angostura on top that created little beads of amber on the white. Almost like a cappuccino foam…beautiful stuff. So with my fizz, I’ve been playing with ways to make the egg emulsify enough to create that nice frothy texture that holds its own distinct layer for a good length of time.

Naren Young was nice enough to explain to me once that you should shake anything with egg whites sans ice first, so as to emulsify the whites, then add ice and shake more. On a recent late-night jaunt to Death, I saw them doing the same thing for their Pink Lady. So I’ve played with that, but the results haven’t been perfect. I need perfect, dammit…

Next I experimented with adding seltzer after shaking for a minute or so, then shaking more. This created a much “frothier” texture and appearance…the closest I’ve come thus far.

Do you have any advice regarding method: prep, shaking, straining?

Thanks,

-alex

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First shake everything with out ice about 10 times. Then add big chunks and shake till ice starts to form on the outside of the shaker. Let sit for 5 seconds, then tap shaker to settle foam(You see baristas do this with Cap foam) then pour out into a short glass with NO ICE. Make sure you get all the merange that wants to stick to the bottom of the shaker. Then drizzle soda slowly down the side of the glass while spinning it with your other hand.

Put a few drops of bitters and run a straw through them till they look like the sky in Starry Nights.

Enjoy.

A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

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  • 7 months later...

I've searched around but haven't found an answer to this question, so here goes.

My wife's favorite drink is a Pisco Sour, and my technique and results are pretty good these days, starting with the dry shake Toby describes before adding ice. However, I've consistently noticed a strange phenomenon that happens with egg whites: the seal on the Boston shaker always seems to allow a bit of liquid to leak out midway through the dry shake.

This doesn't happen with any non-egg-white drink, and I tend to use the Boston shaker for just about everything. Don't bother suggesting a tighter or drier seal, as I've tried both repeatedly and it still happens. I've taken to wrapping the area where the glass sits in the base of the shaker with a towel to prevent spray.

Does this happen to anyone else? Any explanations? I've been wondering if egg whites are sufficiently viscous to break the seal or something.

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Since my first post in May, I've become pretty obsessed with egg white cocktails. The best way to get a good seal is to use an 18-ounce, inward-beveled cheater tin (like this one from BarSupplies.com). This, with a large tin, makes a really good seal that is perfect for egg whites or any messy drink -- singapore sling being a nasty bit of business itself.

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I've searched around but haven't found an answer to this question, so here goes.

My wife's favorite drink is a Pisco Sour, and my technique and results are pretty good these days, starting with the dry shake Toby describes before adding ice. However, I've consistently noticed a strange phenomenon that happens with egg whites: the seal on the Boston shaker always seems to allow a bit of liquid to leak out midway through the dry shake.

This doesn't happen with any non-egg-white drink, and I tend to use the Boston shaker for just about everything. Don't bother suggesting a tighter or drier seal, as I've tried both repeatedly and it still happens. I've taken to wrapping the area where the glass sits in the base of the shaker with a towel to prevent spray.

Does this happen to anyone else? Any explanations? I've been wondering if egg whites are sufficiently viscous to break the seal or something.

This is a great question and one I'd also like to know the answer to. When I dry shake my Pisco Sour, the same thing happens every time. EXPLOSION! The only way I can really keep it from squirting out on to my shirt is to hold my shaker extremely tight when I shake it.

"A woman once drove me to drink and I never had the decency to thank her" - W.C. Fields

Thanks, The Hopry

http://thehopry.com/

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When you dry shake at room temperature, you evaporate some of the alcohol into the airspace, which expands giving the air in the shaker "positive internal pressure." This is the opposite of the "negative pressure" that is created when shaking with ice, which we all know helps to keep the pieces of the shaker together. The end result is that some of the air inside the shaker would like to escape to create equilibrium. The same thing would happen were you to dry shake with warm water.

NB. There is really no such thing as "positive or negative pressure." What we mean by saying this is "greater or less than atmospheric pressure."

Edited by slkinsey (log)

--

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I guess explosion was a bit extreme of a word. Mine basically leaks through pressure I should say. It's as if it's about to blow the top off if I don't hold on tightly. Thank you slk for the explanation.

"A woman once drove me to drink and I never had the decency to thank her" - W.C. Fields

Thanks, The Hopry

http://thehopry.com/

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When you dry shake at room temperature, you evaporate some of the alcohol into the airspace, which expands giving the air in the shaker "positive internal pressure."  This is the opposite of the "negative pressure" that is created when shaking with ice, which we all know helps to keep the pieces of the shaker together.  The end result is that some of the air inside the shaker would like to escape to create equilibrium.  The same thing would happen were you to dry shake with warm water.

So it's not an egg white thing, it's a dry shake thing? That could well make sense, since I never dry shake anything that doesn't have egg whites. This "scientific method" business is tricky stuff.

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Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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When dry shaking I allways shake downwards, because if you don't you will end up with white sticky stuff all over your shoulder that will dry to look like... Well it's hard to convince your nice drycleaning lady that you are not making your living in a bordello.

And you don't have to dry (we call it mime because it looks strange to be shaking with out the "train bearing down on you" sound of Kold-draft.) shake hard enough to rip a rotator cuff or get tendontis. The hard shake comes when the ice enters the picture.

A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

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  • 1 year later...

OK, I'm bumping this back up because I'm still not getting consistent results. 9 out of 10 I have the silky meringue foam I want. Tonight, making a Pisco Bell-Ringer, I got a mediocre head. Great drink, don't get me wrong, but why settle a mediocre head, right?

Those of you who nail a crema-like foam every time, can you walk through the basics in detail? Are the eggs at room temperature? What sort of ice do you use? (I don't have a Kold Draft at home, so I use my crappy half-moons from the ice-maker in the freezer.) Tonight I did a longer dry shake than usual -- mistake? I also did a longer ice shake, and noticed more ice chips than usual; is the water diluting the meringue?

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Coincidently, this is something that's been on my mind for the last few days.

is the water diluting the meringue?

I guess it's possible, I find better results with fresh ice rather than ice thats been out on the bar for a bit. But it doesn't seem to make sense logically. Surely the extra water added is a very small percentage of the total water content in the drink. Then again, we're all aware that even the tiniest amount of extra dilution can radically alter the taste of certain cocktails, so maybe it could also affect the reactions that make the 'foaminess'. I was wondering if it may have more to do with temperature, but your example would seem to rule that out. i.e. in my example I'm adding more water because the ice has slightly melted and won't be quite as cold, but by shaking longer and/or harder you'd be making it colder, or at least no warmer.

It may be down to the egg white itself. The results seem to be more consistent when using bought in egg white that is measured out than when using (e.g.) 1 egg white from a fresh egg. Presumably for 2 reasons: no 2 eggs are going to contain the same amount of white, and the (for want of a better word) quality of the white will surely vary - just as no 2 limes have exactly the same sourness.

When I get the time (hopefully in the next couple of weeks) I'm planning some expeeriments where certain ingredients are left out of the dry shake and only added to the ice shake. Hopefully this will show whether or not certain aspects weaken the foam - eg high citrus content, high sugar content, high alcohol etc. I'll report back when I've done this.

Also, I always use the 'hawthorn spring in the dry shake' technique, it seems to give better results, presumably due to increased aeration.

The fact that I'm using words like "seems" and "presumably" a lot indicates that it's a lot of guess work at the moment!

Cheers,

Matt

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I do the spring thing with my dry shakes with egg white. Can't recall exactly where I picked it up. Probably some where here or from some place linked to from here. But it seems to help out.

I whipped up a tweaked Amarreto sour a few weeks ago and added in egg white. It came out nice and creamy with a good thick, stable head. But I don't make enough drinks with egg whites to know what the secret is. I guess this is worth exploring. I know I can make a custard or pudding with the egg yolks. :)

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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I haven't tried the spring trick and think it's time to do so.

I also noted after posting that I gave the lemon a pretty tough squeeze tonight. I wonder if the lemon oil is having an effect on the meringue.

It will, if you squeeze a lemon twist above an egg white drink you will see the oil eating away the meringue.

A good trick when pouring french 75s or mimosas (champagne and citrus juice get rowdy when in the same glass.) is to have a lemon twist in your other hand so if it really starts to foam over you can squelch it with a quick squirt of oil.

Toby

A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

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Those of you who nail a crema-like foam every time, can you walk through the basics in detail?

The one thing I have found to be the most important is the amount of egg white. All the old recipes calling for "one egg white" (and most of the modern ones) assume a medium egg -- not a large egg, and certainly not an extra large egg. It's possible that you're getting way too much egg white in your drink, and I have found that this can be a killer when it comes to making that foam.

Second in importance is to "dry shake" the liquids well. I don't think that using a spring or anything like that is necessary. None of the bartenders I know who consistently get great foam use them. When you open the shaker, you should already see the amount of foam you want. Now all you have to do is chill the drink using your preferred shaking technique.

In order to avoid ice chips and overdilution, it is good to use good ice (Chris, you might consider keeping a few trays of the "faux Kold-Draft" silicon molds in your freezer). I have found that my shaking preferences and practices have evolved considerably over the last year or so, from one that involved quite a bit of hard shaker movement to something that is faster and lesser in extent of movement, with the shaker positioned on a diagonal relative to the direction of movement. This seems to work well for egg white foamed drinks. I like to pack the shaker as full as possible, holding it with both hands at sternum level and shaking briskly with the wrists using a small somewhat twisting movement (i.e, top hand moves a bit further than bottom hand). At first, the liquids simply move around the ice, because there is no room for the ice to move back and forth. After a second or two the ice will melt enough that there will be a little back-and-forth movement. This is a great way in general to chill a shaken drink quickly without getting a lot of ice shards, worrying about shattering freezer-cold ice, overdilution, etc. Kind of the antithesis of the up-and-down "klick-klack" jackhammer-up-by-the-shoulder shaking technique, where there is much more movement and violent collision of the ice (this technique has its uses too, of course).

--

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don't underestimate quality of eggs as a factor, either. i was buying normal big-brand grocery store eggs (from who knows where and who knows how old) and having a hell of a time getting anything but the smallest bit of foam. recently, i started getting locally produced eggs and, without changing my technique at all (dry-shake with spring, etc.), i can consistently get a ton of foam. also, the local eggs tend to be smaller, which might be a factor.

i wish i knew what it was about these eggs that makes them so much better for meringue. i've even let them get pretty old in my fridge and they do the trick every time...

Edited by lostmyshape (log)
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Seriously, I have found size of egg to be the single most influential factor. I've used one egg per drink and had a bad result, with little foam and a murky translucent liquid. And I've ditched those drinks and made the same drink using eggs from the same batch and had a perfect result, with huge foam and silky liquid by shaking two drinks together with only one egg white.

--

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I wonder if the freshness of the egg will also play a part?

On a commercial level it probably wouldn't make much of a difference, for me we'd never have eggs for more than a day or so before they're all used up. I'd imagine that may be different for those making drinks at home.

I sense another experiment coming up - just bought eggs vs ones closer to their use by date, with the quantity of white being strictly measured. (easiest way to do that, IME, is to put egg white into a small squeezy bottle (something like this) with a small nozzle then squeeze into measure)

Cheers,

Matt

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Not long ago I watched a video of Jamie Boudreau explaining that dry shaking the egg white first and adding the rest of the ingredients one at a time and dry shaking each time will produce a thick head. After having tried this a few times I have to say it works, whether it be the citric acid working with the egg white or the sugar being added later, or even just the prolonged broken dry shaking I'm not sure but, it really works for me though I only use this technique when the crowd is dying down at the end of the night. Sorry for not posting a link to this video, I will try finding it later.

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Something worth playing around with is deconstructing drinks that contain egg white and making a flavoured foam to sit on top of the drink.

For example, this is a drink I came up with the other day...

Daiquiri with Elderflower & Grapefruit foam

Daiquiri

50ml White rum

25ml Fresh lime juice

12.5ml Sugar Syrup

Method: Add all ingredients to mixing glass fill with cubed ice and shake hard for 10 seconds

Glass: Chilled coupette

Garnish: Elderflower & Grapefruit foam*

Ice: N/A

*For the foam

25ml Pasteurised egg white

12.5ml St. Germain Elderflower liqueur

12.5ml Fresh white grapefruit juice

Dash sugar syrup

Method: Add all ingredients to mixing glass and dry shake for 30-40 seconds. Finish by layering on top of Daiquiri.

Edited by evo-lution (log)

Evo-lution - Consultancy, Training and Events

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