Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Mix Up A Ramos Gin Fizz with Ralph Brennan

In the Spirits chapter of Ralph Brennan's New Orleans Seafood Cookbook, it's stated on page 400:
"It should be a given that New Orleans has a very old acquaintance with liquor, in light of its having been the country's favorite party town as long as anybody can remember. . . What is certain is that New Orleans has produced more than its share of famous cocktails over the last century and a half, the gin fizz, the Sazerac and the hurricane among them."
The Gin Fizz, a concoction featuring cream, egg white, and orange flower water, is a genuine New Orleans phenomenon. It was even referred to as a New Orleans Fizz up north at the height of its popularity during the 1910s. Chuck Taggart of Gumbo Pages tells of former Louisiana Governor Huey P. Long and his affection for the beverage, which drove him to bring along the New Orleans Roosevelt Hotel bartender to the New York Roosevelt in order to enjoy the creamy, floral-flavored beverage. The trade name of "Ramos" was acquired by the Hotel Roosevelt after Prohibition was repealed. has an excellent short history on the Ramos Gin Fizz taken from New Orleans Drinks and How To Mix 'Em by Stanley C. Arthur. An enterprising bartender named Henry C. Ramos came to the city of New Orleans by way of Baton Rouge and introduced his signature drink in 1888 after purchasing the Imperial Cabinet Saloon located at Gravier and Carondelet. Upstairs was a restaurant called The Old Hickory, where Ramos mixed up his soon-to-be famous beverage.

Ramos and his drink really broke into the mainstream after his purchase of the infamous Tom Anderson saloon, The Stag, in 1907. At the height of its popularity, 35 shaker boys were employed at the saloon in 1915 for Mardi Gras and were unable to keep up with the demand. At, Paul Clarke posted a history of the Ramos Gin Fizz dated September 11, 2005. Ramos kept his very popular drink mix a secret, but when Prohibition and the Volstead Act was enacted on January 16, 1920, it is surmised that he revealed the recipe to the world as an act of civil disobedience, hoping to inspire the home mixologist.

Ramos is to be thanked for two reasons. First, for creating such an excellent beverage and secondly, for sharing it with the world, ensuring its survival for the past 110 years. And thanks to Ralph Brennan's New Orleans Seafood Cookbook, the home chef can prepare a piece of New Orleans history.

SOURCE: "The Original Ramos Gin Fizz"
SOURCE: "Ramos Gin Fizz"
SOURCE: "In Praise of Difficult Drinks, Part I: The Ramos Gin Fizz" 09/11/05
Photo by Kerri McCaffety. Copyright by The Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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