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Oct 19, 2008 07:35 PM

Working with egg whites

Does anyone have advice about making cocktails with egg whites?

-should the egg white be cold or room temperature?
-do fresh egg whites work better, or pasteurized egg whites from a carton?

I'm trying to perfect a pisco sour and wondering why my egg white settles to the top of the cocktail much more quickly than happens at a bar. What am I doing different from the pros?



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  1. I use fresh, as fresh as possible, and I've never put an egg in the fridge in my life!

    1. A few suggestions for your pisco sour may be to cut back slightly the amount of egg white used. If you're using the traditional pisco sour recipe (2 part pisco, 1 part simple syrup, 1 part egg white, 1 part juice), try using about 3/4 part egg white. I typical use egg whites from a carton, but have found brands can differ in quality and the amount of whites that form on the cocktail. Also, try shaking the cocktail a bit less. Seven to ten seconds works well.

      1. Are you doing a dry shake, then a wet shake?

        A dry shake is when you put all the ingredients, except the ice into the shaker and shake thoroughly to emulsify. Then the wet shake is adding the ice and shake again to chill and water down. This gives a much, much better cocktail than just doing a single wet shake.

        1. Thanks everyone! I tried less egg white and less shaking, and it seemed to help. Next time I'll try room temperature eggs and/or a dry mix.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Pei

            Yes, room temp eggs should work better. I'm no scientist but I am a baker and when whipping eggs whites, one yields a better result from a room temp egg then a cold egg. I've found the same applies when making egg drinks such as a White Lady.

          2. Agreed on the dry shake. That has worked really well for me. But I don't agree at all about shaking less. On the contrary, you should shake more, and shake HARD. You're trying to emulsify the ingredients and that requires some effort. Make sure you're using crushed ice -- more surface area creates more friction and that will speed emulsification. Traditionally the Ramos Gin Fizz -- another egg drink -- would be shaken on the order of minutes, not seconds. That might be overkill, but try to shake your egg drinks hard, for at least a minute, and you'll get the ultimate in smooth, silky refreshment, that will not break in the glass.

            5 Replies
            1. re: davis_sq_pro

              My preference is for larger pieces of ice, but I agree with davis otherwise. When I want a nice, thick foam on top of an egg-white drink, I shake the holy hell out of it. Dry first, to get the ball rolling, then wet.

              1. re: big o

                I think shaking less actually helped. The first few times I made the pisco sour, I shook it for a very long time. The result was the first photograph: the drink was frothy at first, but the egg white soon settled to the top like a thick meringue on top of a clear cocktail. That might be desireable in some drinks, but a lighter shake results in an emulsified drink that stays hazy/milky throughout for longer.

                1. re: Pei

                  You're certainly correct about the difference between shaking hard and shaking soft, but I will point out that a pisco sour is, traditionally, supposed to grow the meringue-like head. I think the actual issue here is something that I've noticed far too often myself: you're visiting bartenders who don't shake properly.

                  In this case, I'd say you've been outperforming "the pros".

                    1. re: big o

                      I agree, as well. I think the foggy drink is not the desired outcome.