Eggs are just as safe in cocktails as they are in the ever so popular mayonnaise. If you don’t read everything… At least take this important info in about raw egg in cocktails.
“The National Egg Board says that only 1 in 20,000 eggs contain salmonella, and that even then, it takes 3-5 weeks to reach dangerous levels.”
Like all raw egg recipes such as Mayonnaise or Cocktails; It is best to use fresh Grade A or AA eggs that are properly refrigerated with shells intact. Also, rinse the outer shell with cold water before cracking the egg. Whether you are cooking at home or a chef at a restaurant/bar, It is always best to use precautions to avoid any contamination.
I typically blame Sylvester Stallone for everything that goes wrong in the world. More than 99% of the time, it is undeserved. But occasionally, something sticks. Like causing Americans to become seriously averse to drinking anything containing raw egg.
That scene from Rocky was bad-ass, but it really made people say, “shoot, drinking raw eggs is disgusting.” I mean, yeah, gulping down bare raw egg is nas-tay. But there are reasons to allow raw egg into your potables. The best one is the Flip.
A Flip is a family of cocktails that contain (traditionally) spirit, sugar, spice, and egg. This formula comes directly from the Old Testament of Bartending: Jerry Thomas’ 1864 “The Bar-Tender’s Guide”. But the drink predates this earliest written reference by at least 200 years.
The Flip’s roots are at sea, where sailors drank a concoction of rum, beer and sugar. A red-hot iron poker would be plunged into the mix. The heat would cause the mixture to boil where it touched the poker. Sugars would caramelize, creating a foamy “flipped” texture on the surface.
At some point, sailors would return home, where there were fresh eggs. Some clever sod realized that a whipped egg could create the “flip” without the heat, and the drink could now be served cold.
Thomas’ Flip recipes included the Hot English Rum Flip, which was probably the most direct relation to what the sailors were drinking. It called for beer, rum, sugar, spice, and egg. Thomas also listed recipes for Flips using the other well-known spirits, including brandy, gin, whisky, port, and sherry.
Unfortunately, a lot of people saw Rocky. It isn’t easy to sell a cocktail with raw egg in it in Connecticut right now. ”It has an egg in it?! I don’t like the sound of that. I think I’ll have a rum and coke. Oh and can you bring extra aioli with my calamari? I love that stuff, I could just dip my finger in it and eat that!”
That’s where my head bangs into the bar top. We don’t seem to have a problem with eating raw egg, do we? Mayonnaise… remember? What’s the story with raw egg safety? Well, the National Egg Board says that only 1 in 20,000 eggs contain salmonella, and that even then, it takes 3-5 weeks to reach dangerous levels. Obviously, the National Egg Board has an agenda, but still. More dangerous than salmonella inside your egg is probably salmonella on the shell. If you crack the egg and the inside touches the outside, it can get contaminated.
My deduction is that if you use fresh eggs, and wash and rinse the shell before cracking, you’re not likely to encounter any difficulties. That’s good enough for me.
Anyways, why use raw eggs for anything? Well, there are two reasons. The first applies mainly to food and condiments. Eggs contain these compounds called “emulsifiers”. An emulsifier allows a chef to take two liquids that cannot normally be blended together, and create a liquid that is permanent and seamless. The most well-known emulsions are mayonnaise, hollandaise, and vinaigrettes, but most people don’t realize that homogenized milk is actually an emulsion. Normally milk will separate like oil and vinegar, with milk fats at the top and water at the bottom of the mixture. Eggs aren’t used to homogenize milk however, the feat is accomplished by forcing milk through an apparatus at high pressure.
The second reason, which applies to Flip cocktails, is that egg white specifically is made up out of protein molecules that are all wrapped up and tangled around themselves. Agitating these proteins (by dry shaking or whipping) causes them to begin to unravel. As they unravel, air and water begin to get trapped in between the spaces they create. The egg proteins have an affinity for bonding with air at one end, and an affinity for bonding with water at the other. Where air and water meet in the agitated mixture, the proteins get pulled in opposite directions and fully unravel. These now long and spindly molecules form into lattices, which is what foam is.
And there you have the prized feature of the Flip - it’s foamy head and silky texture. Only the egg white can create this. The yolk only contributes flavor and mouthfeel. Egg whites are actually pretty devoid of flavor, a fact which eludes many people and scares them off of ordering drinks containing egg. However, anyone with a cholesterol problem can tell you, very sadly, that egg whites don’t taste like much of anything.
Flips are categorized by whether or not they contain the yolks. A Silver Flip has only white, a Golden Flip only yolk. Royal Flips contain both. If you add cream to a Flip, it becomes a Nog. If you add soda water, it becomes a Fizz. See how easy cocktailing is?
So now you know about eggs and Flips… time to drink some, eh? Well, the above photo is the end of a particularly delicious Flip that was created for me by Mr. Dave Bouchard of my #1 local cocktail haunt, Max Fish in Glastonbury. He used anejo tequila as the spirit, vanilla simple syrup as the sugar, bitters as the spice, and of course, egg white.
Come to think of it, there may have been some lime juice in there as well. Which would have actually made it a Sour, not a Flip, in which case I would have just written this long article quite in error. Well, just in case, I’ll write another article on the Sour cocktail family soon. Cheers!