No need to hunt for fresh eggs this spring, because they're in cocktails across the city. Our Ramos Gin Fizz, of course, gets its froth from a hard-shaken egg white, as do the fizz variations and sours that were big in the 19th century.
The idea of cracking a whole egg into a drink goes back even earlier, to American colonial times. Whipped into a drink with cream, it becomes eggnog; even without dairy, though, whole eggs add lushness to flips.
It's more rare to find what I call an egg-drop cocktail, or a drink that calls for an intact yolk, though downing one can give you a certain daredevil cred (more about that later).
Most times, then, you'll be blending the egg or white into a cocktail. The trick is to do a dry shake first (no ice), typically with the egg or white and all the cocktail ingredients in your shaker. This aerates the egg while marrying it with other liquids. Then add chunks of ice to the shaker, and pump away for up to two more minutes, depending on the drink. This second shake chills it all, while keeping it foamy.
You could save your arms and use a milk frother, which runs the risk of over-whipping the egg, or a whisk, which can take forever to tighten up the egg whites. Most bartenders I know, unless they're working a party, prefer the old-fashioned hand shake.
Here, I've rounded up 9 eggy drinks, and where to find them:
The Galliano Flip, French 75: Cool and silky, this flip is based on a complex vanilla liqueur that delivers subtle threads of anise and citrus on the back notes. To the liqueur, Chris Hannah and Hadi Ktiri add clove-laced allspice dram and a robust brown sugar syrup, for a whole-egg cocktail that superbly balances the sweet and sultry.
Breakfast Cocktail, La Fin Du Monde: Geoffrey Wilson's frothy reviver straddles slumber and sunrise with a bracing blend of rye whiskey and maple syrup, shaken with a whole egg. Using rye in this flip lends it a drier taste and lighter body than it would have if it was bourbon-based, but this rye (Rittenhouse) is particularly bold and caramel-honeyed, crafted in the classic Pennsylvania, or Monongahela, style of the late 18th century. Here, the Rittenhouse stands up well to the maple syrup. A good thing, when you consider that the Breakfast Cocktail also takes on a crisp bacon stirrer, which adds subtle smokiness as it steeps.
Mistletoe Fizzle, Finn McCool's: Don't let the name throw you: though bartender Tyler Chauvin originally wrote this rum-cinnamon fizz for a USBG Christmas contest, this frothy, pastel-colored sipper has perennial appeal. At its core is RumChata, a spirited variation of Mexican horchata that's also made from ground rice. It tastes like a rummy rice pudding, with cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg notes. Tyler pairs it with Midnight Moon's cherry moonshine, which brings a clean, fruity bite, and a few drops of aromatic orange flower water. She gives the cocktail extra heft with an egg white and splash of soda water.
Absinthe Suissesse, Hermes Bar: Hermes Bar's variation of this classic cocktail calls for an egg white and simple syrup (rather than a whole egg and almond syrup), yielding a light, milky foam. A shot of absinthe gives it a punch of flavor; here, ask bartender Jarius LeBlanc for advice on which one to use. I chose Kubler for its clean bitterness, which cuts through the creamy half-and-half. While I wouldn't call it breakfast, the Absinthe Suissesse does have a morning after appeal.
Peter Bon Bon, Perestroika @ Pravda: By the time you read this, P@P may have already evolved—in perfect spring fashion—into a rum house. We got a peek at this new life with Peter Bon Bon, which starts with Banks 7, a blend of golden West Indian, Caribbean and Central American rums that are aged together in bourbon barrels.
P@P co-owner Nick Detrich matches Banks 7 with cherry liqueur, a whole egg, and a clever salted cocoa syrup (to make it, dissolve an ounce of non-alkalized cocoa powder in 2 cups heated water, then stir in 2 cups granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon salt. Cool, bottle, refrigerate). Don't worry if Peter's slipped off the menu; they'll still make it for you.
Charlie Brown Fizz, Coquette: Listed with Coquette's desserts, this rich blend of cognac, pecan syrup and hazelnut liqueur gets its levity from an egg white and soda, making it a liquid praline. Charlie Brown is a sweet meal-ender on its own, or a good match with the stacked coffee mousse, served with bourbon sauce and a beignet.
Brazilian Fizz, Root: This fizz gets its name from cachaça, a Brazilian spirit distilled from sugar cane juice (once categorized as a rum, cachaça is now recognized by the U.S. government as its own unique style). Here, the choice is white, unaged Cachaça 61, which has a mineral, powder-keg palate; in the cocktail, it's lit with an egg white, lemon juice and Angostura bitters. Root bartender Reavely Bell wrote the recipe as a sour variation, though a splash of soda treads fizz territory.
Beyond the Pale, Cure: Bartender Alice Gaber wrote this recipe, which seems to be a wild play on a Tom Collins. Beyond the Pale starts with aromatic, malty Ransom Old Tom gin, a revival of a classic mid-century recipe; instead of lemon juice, though, the drink calls for a grappa made with lemon peels. This (and a whole egg) produces a boozy smoothness, while keeping the tart, dry qualities of lemon juice.
Pousse L'Amour, French 75: "Only about 15 people in this bar have ever finished one," Chris Hannah tells me. This classic cocktail (which originally appeared in Jerry Thomas' landmark bar guide of 1862) doesn't look terrifying at first—a tidy port glass, ethereal layers of crème de menthe, cherry liqueur and cognac. But then, splashed in the center, is a raw and unbroken egg yolk.
I take a small sip to "taste each component" (the mint is especially spicy and ragged on its own), though really I'm stalling. That egg yolk in the glass is an eye, and it's waiting for me to blink first.
Sensing my discomfort, one of my drinking buddies that night (bartender Ian Parr) orders it, too. We toss them back together. Jumbled like that, you don't taste anything except the cool yolk exploding in your mouth. We're numbers 16 and 17, and done.