I was kind of disappointed when the weather took a turn for cool autumnal temperatures a couple weeks ago. I mean, I was glad I wasn’t sitting in my house sweltering, but I thought I’d missed my opportunity to tell you about my favorite warm weather drink: The Ramos Gin Fizz. But of course, this being San Diego in the climate-change era, the weather has gotten hot again so I’m seizing the opportunity.
The Ramos Gin Fizz is an ancient and somewhat peculiar cocktail, a mix of egg, gin, lemon, sugar and milk. It makes you wonder how it first all came together; it was probably related to one of those old drinks called milk punches.
The thing that makes a Ramos Gin Fizz special is orange flower water, which gives the drink an exotic perfumey quality. The clever part is that orange flower water is one of those substances that is thought to help lower the body temperature, making it ideal for Indian summer.
The drink made sense for the first time when I had one in New Orleans, in July (why?) as I was sweating my way through the Tales of the Cocktail conference. It’s actually a concoction first made by Albert Martin.
I went to the Court of Two Sisters, where Miss Flo–who had been working there behind the stick for 40-some years– made me one, as well as her award-winning Hurricane and another fruity concoction.
I took it to go, and was so grateful for the cold, floral, tangy, alcoholic milkshake as I walked through the hot brick streets of the French Quarter and back to my air conditioned hotel. It was like drinking from my own little oasis.
Eric Alperin mixed up another one some months later at his intimate bar called The Varnish, which is behind Cole’s French Dip in downtown LA. It was a beauty, but it didn’t hold a candle to Miss Flo’s.
The Ramos Gin Fizz
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
1 level teaspoon powdered sugar
1 level teaspoon bar sugar
1-1/2 ounce dry gin
1/2 white of egg
2 ounces fresh milk ( not cream)
5 or 6 drops Imperial Essence of Orange Flowers
Mix the lemon and sugar thoroughly in a shaker; add cracked ice, then gin, then egg and finally the milk and Essence of Orange Flowers. Shake thoroughly and serve in a fizz glass.
From Trader Vic’s Book of Food and Drink by Victor Bergeron (Doubleday, 1946)