Shake all ingredients vigorously WITHOUT ice to emulsify them.
Fill shaker with large ice. Shake the drink until your arm tires.
Strain into a collins glass.
Top with a splash of Club Soda, chopping a bar spoon up and down in the glass as you fill to create a thick head.
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In our recent post on Whiskey Stones, Lars revealed his discovery that shaking a drink longer not only makes it colder but adds greater effervescence. He’s going a full thirty seconds on his cocktails, and the difference, he tells us, is remarkable. Of course, I can’t let Lars enjoy anything without throwing a new challenge his way — that’s what friends are for, right — so here’s a drink that not only defines his fair city of New Orleans (some proclaim it should be the official drink) but one which also calls for 12 minutes of shaking!
Are we really going to shake for 12 minutes? Of course not (but don’t tell Lars). While a large part of me is inclined to believe that the 12 minutes is marketing propaganda from yore, I suspect that it might just elevate one of the world’s greatest concoctions to absolute manna from heaven status. The drink is so good that the inimitable Charles H. Baker (one of the great gifts to the world of food and drink), proclaimed it “synonymous with the finest in all the New Orleans art”.
Fortunately, unlike 99% of cocktail lore, the Ramos Gin Fizz has a very clear lineage. It was created in 1888 by Henry C. Ramos while at the Meyer’s Table d’Hotel Internationale in New Orleans. Later, when Ramos opened the Imperial Cabinet Saloon, he naturally took the drink with him. The recipe was secret, so if you wanted one, you came to Henry. The drink became so popular that during the 1915 Carnival season, Ramos employed more than thirty “shaker boys” to mix them. The first shaker would literally shake the drink as long as he could then pass it to the next shaker, and so forth. Thirty shakers at Lars’ thirty seconds a piece? Suddenly, 12 minutes doesn’t look so unrealistic. Tragically, unlike most of his competition, Henry Ramos obeyed the laws of the 18th Amendment and closed permanently. Following the repeal of Prohibition, Ramos sold his recipe and name to the Roosevelt Hotel and, thankfully, it continued to live on.
If you need more proof of just how great a drink this is, consider a story we’ve danced around here at 12 Bottle Bar but not yet fully addressed. In 1935, once Louisiana Governor and then Louisiana Senator Huey Long had flown to New York City — and to the very public Hotel New Yorker specifically — to publicly attack President Roosevelt’s New Deal — “Why don’t they hold the Democratic convention and the Communist convention together and save money?” Finding that no one in the Big Apple could properly make his beloved Ramos Gin Fizz, Long flew up Sam Guarino, the head bartender from the Roosevelt Hotel, to teach the New York bartenders a thing or two. “Now this here chap knows how to mix a Ramos Gin Fizz,” Long explained.
This is a brunch drink — or, more to the point, a morning after drink — which makes it perfect for a long holiday weekend. My recipe comes directly from Chris McMillian, one of the finest barmen in New Orleans if not the world. If Huey were alive today, Chris is the man he’d fly halfway across the world to make him a drink. You can see him in action, making a Ramos Gin Fizz, here.
By the way, Charles H. Baker recommended using a blender. Don’t.
Finally, a note on Orange Flower Water. This is a wonderful ingredient to keep around your bar and kitchen. It’s necessary if you plan to make your own grenadine, and I occasionally like to splash a couple of drops into a drink like a Gin and Tonic just to mix it up. It’s inexpensive, and Bevmo carries it, as do many fine food stores and ethnic markets. Somewhere along the line, I was steered towards the French version over the Middle Eastern version. I can’t remember exactly why, but I reasoning was sound at the time. I’ll pass that along, for what it’s worth. Also, don’t substitute anything else for it — it won’t work.
Nun’s Farts: If you’re buying Orange Flower Water for your Ramos Gin Fizz, you’ll have plenty left over for a healthy batch of Nun’s Farts (seen in the picture above). Yes, you heard me correctly. Pets de Nonne (Nun’s Farts) are an airy pâte à choux fritter that date back several centuries. They are more properly called beignets soufflès, and while they are quite different from the beignets of Cafe du Monde, they are stupidly simple to make and, like the Ramos Gin Fizz, one of the reasons to exist on this earth. I use the recipe here: