E IS FOR EGG WHITES
By Matthew Latkiewicz
E is for egg whites, which are probably among the last things to come to mind when I say, “cocktail ingredient.”
The idea is super gross to most of us in the 21st century. And it is the one ingredient that I have to sell people hard on. Oh, let me take that back. I’m not gonna say, “hard on.” The one ingredient that I really have to sell people on before they try it and inevitably like it. Because egg whites don’t change the flavor of the drink as much as they change the texture of it. It makes the drink somewhat foamy, and rich, almost like an alcoholic milkshake. Those are just a few of the things I say when I’m selling people on egg whites.
But, who the hell started putting eggs into drinks? Well, the real question of course is when did we stop putting eggs in our drinks? Whereas, us 21st century types shiver in discomfort at the thought of drinking raw eggs. Our 19th century brethren and sistren drank eggs all the time and most often with booze – and not just the whites, they downed them yolks and all – like god damn Rocky. In fact, eggs + booze was so common and so accepted as a normal thing, that a popular breakfast for folks doing physical labor at the time was two raw eggs cracked into a beer with a shot of whiskey on the side. So rad! They called it a Miner’s Breakfast. Actually… Who needs the breakfast of champions, when you can have the breakfast of a miner.
We recoil at drinking eggs now, because we’re worried they’ll make us sick. But previous to the 20th century,
people drank raw eggs for their health. The idea had something to do with middle-age and renaissance notions about health in which all things in the world were one of four types, and you have to balance the types out… and eggs balance out alcohol for some medieval reason. Whatever.
But also, there are a lot of nutrients in eggs. So, you know, those 16th century doctors weren’t totally wrong.
Truth is our fears about drinking raw eggs are outsized. Think about all the raw cookie dough you’ve eaten in your life. Being afraid of a little egg white in your drink is like being a vegan with a leather belt. Get your story straight.
Plus, any bartender brave enough to put an egg drink on the menu is also probably smart enough to do it hygienically. So, the next time you see a Pink Lady or a Ramos Gin Fizz on the menu, give them a try. Or of course, The Miner’s Breakfast is a great start to any day. And I like to raise my Miner’s Breakfast to Anna Hezel whose writing on the history of drinking raw eggs provided all the interesting material for the letter E.
E is for egg whites.
Alright. Let’s get mining.