Monday, June 2, 2008

Fresh Eggs vs. Egg White Cartons and The Whiskey Sour

When it comes to cocktails, I am a firm believer that everything should be as fresh as possible. However, every rule has its exceptions. Firstly, the obvious exception to every cocktail rule: Personal tastes reign supreme. If you prefer the taste of Rose's "lime juice" to actual freshly squeezed lime juice in your daiquiris, go for it. Be sure to make mine with the real stuff though, or at least warn me before I accidently ingest a Rose's product. Another exception (perhaps a more interesting exception) comes in the form of egg whites. Egg white create a unique mouthfeel and an pleasant visual effect as well. The most famous use of egg white may come in the Pisco Sour, but I like to use it in other sours as well, especially Whiskey Sours. But that's for later discussion.

In order to determine which source for egg white was better, I decided to do a bit of an experiment, so I went to the store and picked up some fresh eggs and a carton of pasteurized egg white. I really thought that the fresh eggs would prove a better choice for cocktails, especially after reading on the carton that those egg whites were not recommended for meringues and the like because of the pasteurization. But I was pleasantly surprised by the results. When shaken alone, the fresh egg whites didn't have quite as much foam, although I would say that they both fell within the small range desired. Also, this discrepancy all but disappeared when shaken with the other ingredients. I decided also to taste for differences just between the shaken whites so that they would stand out more. The fresh egg whites had slightly less of the eggy taste, but when I say slightly, I mean slightly. This discrepancy was also more than masked by mixing with the other ingredients. While I didn't want to get enough of a swallow to accurately judge mouthfeel with the egg whites alone, I was, of course, more than willing to do so for the finished product. For the most part, I couldn't detect any difference at all, and on a couple of sips and gulps, I actually preferred the texture of the carton whites.

The non-mixology related characteristics weren't much more helpful in declaring a winner. In terms of price, depending on random sales and the quantity purchased, there's little difference. For the home bar enthusiast, who only occassionally uses egg white, I would suggest the pasteurized variety, simply because they last much longer before becoming unusable in cocktails. But on the other hand, fresh eggs come with the additional yolks, which can be used in a few different cocktails, or even scrambled up for something to nibble on while sipping down your sours. The fresh eggs do also pose the hassle and (for some) difficulty of separating the whites. Simply stated, the differences are minor, and the winner is slight. While others are more than welcome to disagree, I forsee my egg white stock will come already separated and pasteurized in a handy little carton.

Now, for the good stuff:

The Whiskey Sour

1 1/2 - 2 oz. Whiskey
1 oz. simple syrup
3/4 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice
Up to 1 whole egg white (or 3 tbsp. from the carton)

Shake ingredients vigorously without ice. Add ice and shake again. Strain into chilled sour glass. Garnish with a cherry and/or lemon wedge.

This yields a rather sweet whiskey sour, so I encourage you to alter the proportions to your tastes. I like my sours quite sweet. It's also quite fun to experiment with different whisk(e)ys. The experiment was done with Jack Daniel's, but I'm quite fond of using bourbons. I've got a couple more bourbons to try out, then perhaps some scotch. Bushmill's makes for quite the tasty treat. Of course, there's no need to limit yourself to whiskey alone. Pisco is quite fun, or perhaps just a Brandy Sour. Try out your favorite liquor (or liqueur for that matter). Some will require slightly different ratios of sweet to sour, especially liqueurs. Experiment, have fun, and drink well.


Chris said...

Another issue to consider with the use of raw eggs is the USDA's warning against salmonella poisoning. I've heard the argument, whether or not it is meritorious, that raw eggs carry an increased risk of salmonella.

I use raw eggs in my eggnog, and have never gotten sick, however. Take it as you will.

Nice blog, by the way, man. I've linked to it off mine.

Mark the Bartender said...

Eyebrows generally do raise when they see me reachings for the eggs. Once they've tried it though, thoughts of salmonella are replaced with thoughts of tasty.

Of course, I wouldn't use an egg past or near the expiration date, but salmonella is very, very rare, and in addition to making people more attractive and interesting, alcohol also does wonders for killing things, especially very tiny things like bacteria.

Lastly, though, I can't think of a better way to increase one's protein intake.

Chris said...

I don't have a problem with raw eggs. You've had my eggnog, after all.

Salmonella is FAR more rare than the FDA has made it out to be. Same with food-borne illnesses with pork, which people also freak out about. :)

Drink well, my friend.