Why Bartenders Can't Stand The Ramos Gin Fizz Cocktail

The Ramos gin fizz cocktail isn't nearly as popular as it used to be, and that's just fine with most bartenders. Mixologists might not hate making it as much as they hate making blended or layered drinks — the pousse-café, for instance — but ordering it will seldom result in a joyous reception, especially if the bar is busy. 

Why? Because this iconic cocktail requires a lot of time and effort to prepare properly. This is a drink, after all, whose list of eclectic ingredients includes egg white and orange blossom water. It's the amount of shaking required that's really the issue, however. The man who invented the Ramos gin fizz in the 1880s, New Orleans saloon owner Henry Charles Ramos, used to have the drink shaken by a veritable production line of bartenders. In fact, decades before Henry Ford invented the modern assembly line, Ramos had his namesake drink vigorously manipulated by up to a dozen so-called shaker boys. That's how time-consuming and labor-intensive the cocktail is to make. The shaking aspect alone, according to some drink manuals, should take at least 12 minutes. Otherwise, the finished cocktail won't have a properly frothy texture.

Why would anyone create a cocktail like this? Apparently, all that shaking made for quite a spectacle in Ramos' Imperial Cabinet and Stag Saloons. The drink is also delicious: creamy, zesty, and sweet. Consequently, it has become a cocktail classic, one still beloved by brunch enthusiasts.

Evolution of the Ramos gin fizz

Bartenders no longer shake the Ramos gin fizz for 12 minutes. The drink's preparation of gin, egg white, heavy cream, simple syrup, lemon and lime juice, and orange flower and soda water has been streamlined over the years, and most mixologists now agree that 50 shakes — or up to 45 seconds of vigorous shaking — is more than adequate. A few minor tweaks are sometimes made to the traditional recipe as well. Substituting sugar for simple syrup to help mimic the intense frothiness of extended shaking, for example, or adding club soda before shaking rather than as an extra step afterward.

Even with these refinements, the drink remains time-consuming to make. Luckily for bartenders, the cocktail has never been in high demand outside two regional hotbeds. One is New Orleans, of course. The drink was born in the Crescent City, with the Roosevelt Hotel supplanting Ramos' long-gone saloons as the mecca for the frothy sipper. One of the hotel's barmen famously helped Louisiana Governor Huey P. Long demonstrate the drink's unique charm to New Yorkers during the 1930s. Today, the Roosevelt New Orleans Hotel is a Waldorf Astoria property. However, its Sazerac Bar still specializes in the Ramos gin fizz, serving up about 20,000 of them annually.

San Francisco was the other traditional hotbed for the Ramos gin fizz, or at least until the 1980s when the cocktail's local popularity finally began to wane.

How to order a Ramos gin fizz without annoying bartenders

The Ramos gin fizz has traditionally been served as a brunch specialty, although in its early years, it had a reputation as a morning-after pick-me-up. In either case, it was served early in the day, when bars were not very crowded, and bartenders had plenty of shaking time.

Now that the Ramos gin fizz is enjoying something of a comeback due to the classic cocktail boom, it behooves those who'd like to try the legendarily time-intensive cocktail to keep this historical precedent in mind. This means you should never order this drink in a busy bar. Not only will it annoy the bartender, but it will likely result in a cocktail that's not made as expertly as it could have been given a more relaxed atmosphere. A properly prepared Ramos gin fizz requires not only the right ingredients — always including egg white and heavy cream — but also a certain amount of vigorous shaking. You don't want your bartenders to skimp on either, so don't put them in a position where they're obliged to do so to take care of other patrons.

Tipping well is also a tactic that will endear you to bartenders and ensure that this frothy iconic sipper is given the time and attention it deserves. After all that shaking, you'll probably be in a hurry to taste your Ramos gin fizz, but let it settle first. This is a cocktail worth waiting for.