Sick of your usual call drink? Try something new. In this series, we’re asking the city’s bartenders to name their current drinks of choice.
Today’s call comes by way of Brian Miller, bartender at ZZ’s Clam Bar (169 Thompson Street; 212-254-3000) and founder of Tiki Mondays.
Although Brian Miller is renowned for tiki cocktails, a drink from N’Awlins is his go-to during weekend brunch: the Ramos gin fizz, created by Henry C. Ramos circa 1888 and originally dubbed the New Orleans fizz.
Miller learned how to make the drink under the tutelage of Audrey Sanders when opening Pegu Club in 2005, and he realized he had found a piece of history with hangover-cure powers. “When Pegu Club opened, it was like a cocktail book opened,” Miller says. He and other members of the staff would get to taste drinks that they had only read about in books.
The Ramos gin fizz captivated him because, he says, “It’s kind of like a meal. It’s a drink with some teeth on it. When it’s done well, it’s fantastic. It looks beautiful, it tastes great…Egg whites are great because they help settle the stomach. With egg white drinks, I don’t drink more than one. Usually, it will be the first drink of the night.”
Although the rich history and popularity of the Ramos gin fizz has kept it alive all these years, it’s also widely considered one of the least favorite to make within the bartending community. “It’s kind of a tough drink,” says Miller. “It’s kind of a pain in the ass. It takes an accurate hand. It’s a messy drink.” It also requires a twelve-minute shake, and multiple bartenders often take turns shaking, so ordering it at a crowded bar on a Friday evening isn’t ideal.
Miller advises that customers who see the drink and want to order it follow some advice: “Don’t order a bunch of them. Any bartender that’s excited about making it is lying.” A few exceptional places where guests can order the drink include Fort Defiance and Clover Club.
When not brunching, Miller enjoys a 1934 Zombie Punch, which reflects his passion for tiki drinks. “It’s super-complex,” he says. “It has many layers [and a] tremendous amount of depth to it. [It contains] nearly four ounces of booze and absinthe.”
The recipes for both classics are listed below.
Ramos Gin Fizz
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1/2 ounce lime juice
1 1/4 ounces simple syrup
1 ounce heavy cream
1 egg white
5 drops orange flower water
2 ounces Beefeater gin
Dry shake, then shake with three ice cubes & strain into a highball glass over one ice cube and top with club soda. No garnish.
3/4 ounce lime juice
1/2 ounce Don’s Mix
1/4 ounce grenadine
1/2 ounce Falernum #9
1 dash Angostura bitters
2 dashes absinthe
1 ounce Lemon Hart 151 proof rum
1 1/2 ounces Ron del Barrilito 3 Star rum
1 1/2 ounces Appleton 12 yr rum
Shake with three ice cubes and strain into a pilsner glass over crushed ice. Garnish with mint sprigs.