The Ramos Gin Fizz, shaken — seriously shaken

Every once in a while, technology helps us experience history. Witness the Ramos Gin Fizz, whipped up with a device not unlike a paint-can shaker.

Not long ago I was lucky enough to be seated at the private bar at the Velvet Tango Room, a serious craft cocktail joint of high ambition and national repute in Cleveland.

Serious, you ask? They measure ingredients by the gram, on a scale. They make virtually every classic drink, based on historical sources, and offer a big list of well-crafted originals. The roving order-takers are barkeeps themselves on rotation, to ensure regular contact with customers. A live jazz combo plays in the corner.

So: On the menu I see a Ramos Gin Fizz [ca. 1888, New Orleans], a hard-to-spot classic I’ve been warned to order only when in good hands. It requires the fairly obscure ingredient orange blossom water, for one thing, and between 3 and 12 [!] minutes of vigorous — even “violent,” as some recipes say — shaking.

So much shaking, in fact, that 19th century accounts report that the tins were passed among multiple bartenders, as no man working alone could possibly produce the amount of agitation required.

The barkeep smiled when I ordered it. Continue reading “The Ramos Gin Fizz, shaken — seriously shaken”