Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Incredible Drinkable Egg

A few weeks ago--in Anthropologie of all places--I spotted an old timey looking book called The Savoy Cocktail Book. Heather dragged me there to look at housewares and such so I was groping for entertainment to begin with--you know, between being fascinated by floral patterns on linens. The book is a 1999 reprint of a 1930 book that features all kinds of specialties from the Savoy Hotel in the period surrounding prohibition. While Heather was looking at clothes, dishes, and bedspreads, I flipped through the thing and decided that I needed to own it. I'm a big fan of all things anachronistic and old timey.

As I examined the book a little more closely in the comfort of my own home, I realized that many of these drinks would be a little harder to execute than I thought. Many of them call for things I've never heard of. Hercules, for example, is one I had to look up. The internet cocktail database lists Hercules as a "defunct proprietary British sweetened anis-flavored absinthe and/or substitute. Possibly wine-based." Scratch that as an ingredient. Many of the drinks include gin--of which I am not fond--and absinthe, which can be upwards of fifty dollars a bottle.

One common thread that runs through many of the recipes is their inclusion of raw egg. I've been reading a lot lately about fancy bar around the city including raw eggs sin their cocktails to give them a thicker, smoother, frothier texture. Heather forwarded me an article in the New York Times the other day about a bar called the Pegu Club and their brush with the health department for serving raw egg in cocktails. The Times then printed a follow-up article about the health departments retraction and the Pegu Club's vindication. I, as an amateur, don't have to worry about that; also I don't like to shy away from a challenge. If Rocky can down multiple raw eggs on their own, surely I can enjoy downing one mixed with tasty liquors.

I set to work earmarking the recipes that seemed the most delicious and could be made with the ingredients on hand. I narrowed it down to two. For Heather, the "Coffee Cocktail" which contains no coffee. It only has the name because of the way it looks. I tried a little when it was mixed. I wasn't a huge fan because I don't like port, but the sweetness was a plus and the texture and froth were great.

Coffee Cocktail
From The Savoy Cocktail Book
-The Yolk of 1 Egg
-1 Teaspoonful Sugar or Gomme Syrup
-1/3 Port Wine
-1/6 Brandy
-1 Dash Curacao
Shake well, strain into a small wineglass, and grate a little nutmeg on top.

The one I decided to try was called the "Thunder and Lightning Cocktail" This one was a bit simpler and had the same thickness but less froth. Heather said it reminded her of Egg Nog. I've actually never had Egg Nog so I can't comment. I will say that though it had its fair share of sweetness, it was also quite savory due to the cayenne pepper. I enjoyed it but it's probably not something I would make often.

Thunder and Lightning Cocktail

From The Savoy Cocktail Book
-The Yolk of 1 Egg
-1 Teaspoonful Powdered Sugar
-1 Glass Brandy
Shake well and strain into medium size glass. Dash of Cayenne Pepper on top.

The Savoy Cocktail Book has its flaws. There's no glossary or index, so it can be hard to find things easily. There are also no standard measurements. Occasionally it will just give you a fraction or say something like "1 Glass Brandy." What's a glass? How big a glass? I hate lacking this type of knowledge. But the book, with all its flaws is a great jumping off point and a great insight into the way people used to enjoy a cocktail in the years between World War I and World War II. Plus it gives me the excuse to buy and experiment with mixers that I never would have otherwise considered. Maybe soon I'll have an extra fifty bucks for absinthe.

1 comment:

Too Hot Toddy said...

You can find the Wormwood online to make your own Absinthe.

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