As the summer begins to heat up, I’m drawn more and more to fizz cocktails. These drinks have been one of the best ways to cool off since first appearing in “Professor” Jerry Thomas’ Bar-Tender’s Guide (1887 edition), the first cocktail book to be published in the United States. New fizz variations pop up every season, as cocktail bars and creative bartenders everywhere add their new favorite flavors and liquors to the basic ingredients of sour citrus juices, sugar, and club soda and serve them to parched patrons looking for a relief from the heat. Commonly, fizz recipes are made with gin (though it’s not a requirement), as well as some portion or the entirety of an egg (the Silver Fizz features only the egg white, while the Golden Fizz uses just the yolk).
The most famous of the lot is, arguably, the Ramos Gin Fizz. A New Orleans original from the famous Roosevelt Hotel, this cocktail features some interesting additions: orange flower water, cream, and occasionally vanilla extract are combined with an egg white and added to the traditional Gin Fizz to create a satisfyingly sweet concoction.
Two other common varieties are the Sloe Gin Fizz and the Tom Collins. The traditional recipe for a Sloe Gin Fizz calls for sloe gin (a dark red, plum-derived liqueur), an egg white and lemon juice. One interesting variation that is a personal favorite of mine includes Campari, the bitter Italian drink most famously used to create a Negroni.
The Tom Collins gets it’s name from the “Old Tom” style gin first used in the drink. Old Tom gin is a variety that is sweeter and more aromatic than your average London Dry gin, yet not as dry and pungent as the Dutch-style genever. Although this cocktail has very simple ingredients (gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and club soda), the popularity of variations on the drink during the mid-20th century caused several companies to bottle pre-made “Collins mix” for home bartenders.
To celebrate the legacy of these classic drinks (and to cool off on a particularly sweltering Chicago afternoon), I decided to create a fizz featuring my favorite smoky agave spirit, mezcal.
My mezcal fizz, the Burning Berry, is a sweet, smoky cocktail that turns the fizz on its head. To reproduce this marriage of flavors I included strawberry bitters, a new ingredient I’ve been making at home for the last several weeks. To make your own bitters at home, check out our step-by-step guide—but if you’re not feeling so creative and would rather buy some instead, Brooklyn Hemispherical Bitters has a fantastic offering available online.
Now, let’s get to mixing:
1 ½ oz Gin
½ oz lemon Juice
½ oz lime juice
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
½ Egg White
3 oz cream
Several dashes orange flower water
Shake and strain over ice in a large Collins glass. Top with seltzer water.
[Recipe Credit: Saucier, Ted (1951). Ted Saucier’s Bottom’s Up. Martino Publishing, p. 202.]
Jerry Thomas’ Tom Collins
5 or 6 dashes of gum syrup
Juice of a small lemon
1 large wine-glass of gin (in contemporary measurements, 2 oz)
2 or 3 lumps of ice
[Recipe Credit: Thomas, Jerry (1887). Jerry Thomas’ Bar-Tender’s Guide or How to Mix Drinks. Dick and Fitzgerald. p. 36.]
1 ½ oz Plymouth Sloe Gin
½ oz Genever
¼ oz Campari
¾ oz Lemon Juice
1 Egg white
1 oz simple syrup
Add all ingredients to a mixing glass with ice and shake hard. Strain into a large Collins glass with ice and top with club soda.
1 ½ oz Mezcal
Juice of 1 lime
Juice of half a lemon
½ oz rock candy syrup
Several dashes strawberry bitters
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake, then add ice and shake a second time, hard. Strain into a brandy snifter with ice and top with seltzer water, then garnish with a lime twist and strawberry.