We dipped into the archives and brought back this great blog post by Dirk Hampson, Director of Winemaking, just in time for your holiday festivities:
I know I am supposed to talk about wine but sometimes other beverages fit the time and place too perfectly to ignore. Don’t leap to conclusions and assume that I am a lush but… last weekend a bunch of friends and I conducted some research into “morning drinks.”
While some love Champagne in the a.m., I am not one of them. It seems too acidic and the bubbles tickle. On top of that, some hotels and bars are obsessed with putting fruit into my Champagne glass. I don’t think they understand that Champagne is already made from fruit (grapes grown in Champagne) and some winemaker worked hard to make it “taste like that.”
I believe in good coffee in the morning (espresso). Like Champagne, I have a purist’s approach to coffee, and don’t want to have alcohol added to it in the morning. Late at night, a coffee drink can be worth the show but there is still a philosophical tension between the caffeine and the alcohol that will keep pseudo-intellectuals hard at work for decades to come.
I would recommend a “Bloody Mary” but it is really a “late-morning” drink and I haven’t mastered the critical Tabasco/ V-8 blend. Others swear that a Screwdriver is the answer but I have a fundamental mistrust of any drink that is named after a handyman’s tool. (At least it isn’t called a “Hammer.")
It turns out that the toughest drink to make is also the most rewarding… (if you are going to have a morning drink.) I should provide a warning label that discourages all activities from walking through the operation of heavy machinery but I assume you know that. If you are inclined to try this, you should plan that the rest of the day is shot. Or, I could say, “Past performance is no guarantee of future results.” My dad used to say, “The productive drunk is the bane of all society.” I am not sure what it meant but this is the last warning: Beware!
What is the most demanding drink to make? The Ramos Fizz. It isn’t particularly hard to mix the ingredients. (Like winemaking, it isn’t hard to crush grapes and add yeast. It is harder to get it right.)
There are various recipes out there. Each aficionado swears he has the best “fizz” recipe but… they don’t… I do, and I am writing this blog. Done properly, a great Ramos Fizz is like being welcomed into the morning with your head on a soft silk pillow. (A bad one is a devastating disappointment.)
Some recipes use: frozen lemonade (puh-leeese! keep it fresh), milk (ask the French, texture comes from cream. If you are avoiding the cholesterol, this is the wrong drink), lime juice (it is better in a Corona, a G&T, or some drink with an umbrella), powdered egg white (see comment on lemonade and imagine it caps), nutmeg (it is the natural enemy of orange flower water), vodka (remember that gin has flavor and this drink is supposed to have flavor, too). Keep it simple. Keep it fresh. Serve immediately.
Unfortunately, I only know how to make it by the pitcher. Don’t draw conclusions. Instead, don’t do this unless there are plenty of adventuresome friends present.
One mixer – Williams Sonoma would prefer you have a fancy stainless one
Add the following (and in order—yes, this is a quiz!)
3oz lemon juice (fresh squeezed – remove seeds)
1 fresh egg white (don’t separate yolk over blender unless you are talented)
4-5 tablespoons cane sugar (Like winemaking, you will have to taste it to decide.)
1 small cap of vanilla extract (Size is relative, but small is good with vanilla.)
1-2 teaspoons of orange flower water
Once all those are in, mix. It should turn a nice foamy white color. Mix for at least 30 seconds. Leave it mixing as you slowly add 8-10oz of half-and-half.
Leave it mixing. Don’t stop or you will mess it up. I know it sounds awful, but let it mix or curdling is the natural endpoint of cream and lemon. (Remember when you tried grapefruit and then a bite of cereal with milk… same idea: it’s chemistry.)
Still mixing… add about ½ to ¾ of a tray of ice cubes so the blender makes it smooth and is nearly full.
The important part is to taste it. See if it is good. See if it needs some fixing; more sugar if it is too acidic, more cream if isn’t smooth and rich, more lemon juice if it should finish longer and more flower water if it lacks floral notes. It also makes it look as if you know what you are doing and you can be sure you get your unfair share!
Serve in small glasses and with a large breakfast. And, as all those waiters in trendy restaurants say, “Enjoy.”
[caption id="attachment_1969" align="aligncenter" width="400"]
Dirk and Larry, along with Dirk's Ramos Fizzes, spread holiday cheer.[/caption]
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