Spirits Close-Up: Egg Whites

Sean Cooke seperates an egg at Fitzgerald's in St. Paul, Minnesota // Photo by Kevin Kramer

Sean Cooke seperates an egg at Fitzgerald’s in St. Paul, Minnesota // Photo by Kevin Kramer

If a cocktail has citrus, try adding an egg white,” says bartender Sean Cooke, separating an egg behind the bar at Fitzgerald’s on Selby Avenue in St. Paul. “Sours, daiquiris, gimlets, amaretto sour with egg white is amazing, and it makes a luxurious margarita.” (He made us one. It sure does.) So we asked bartenders for more tips on mixing albumen with alcohol.

Fresh is Best

Chicken, duck, quail, ostrich: any egg white will do. Use one medium-sized chicken white for each drink. If they’re bigger or smaller, measure out one ounce of white per drink. Wash the outside of the egg before cracking it. “Finding farm fresh local eggs at the farmers’ market is always the best choice,” says bartender Simeon Priest. “Grocery store eggs can be a little older and staler by the time you purchase them, yielding a less-fresh cocktail, but they still work.”

Separate Separately

The shells might shatter, you might pop the yolk, or the egg might be past its prime. So don’t separate an egg over a shaker full of expensive spirit. Do it instead over a small glass, build the rest of the drink in your shaker, and add the egg white last. That will also prevent the spirit or acid from curdling the white while you’re building the drink.

Add More Sugar

“Egg whites dry out a cocktail; they lengthen the ingredients and act almost as tannin,” says Trish Gavin, bar manager of ninetwentyfive in Wayzata. “Generally for a sour, I’ll use a formula of ¾ ounce citrus, ¾ ounce syrup, and 2 ounces spirit. But if there’s a white, I alter the recipe to 1 ounce of syrup.”

Cooke strains the cocktail through both a Hawthorne strainer and a fine mesh sieve // Photo by Kevin Kramer

Double Shake

“There is one tried-and-true way that creates the most stable and greatest volume of foam. That is the reverse dry shake,” explains Ryan LeClaire of Kieran’s Irish Pub. “Add all your ingredients into the tin with ice and shake, then strain out the ice and shake the cocktail again without the ice. I like to just use the Hawthorne strainer to separate out the ice—that will leave you with some small ice chips that you will hear when you are dry shaking. I like to shake until those are gone and I have really felt the cocktail thicken up.”

Double Strain

Straining the finished cocktail with both a Hawthorne strainer and a fine mesh sieve creates a uniformity to the air bubbles and a denser head of foam. Then you can drop some bitters on top and draw your best latte art with a little straw.

The finished egg white margarita at Fitzgerald's // Photo by Kevin Kramer

The finished egg white margarita at Fitzgerald’s // Photo by Kevin Kramer

John Garland About John Garland

John Garland is the Deputy Editor at the Growler Magazine. Find him on twitter (@johnpgarland) or in every coffee shop on West 7th Street.