Last time, we saw Bryan Brown in Cocktail, boldly downing a Red Eye, an alleged hangover cure that contains tomato juice, vodka, beer, tabasco sauce and a whole egg in a drinking experience that must be akin to vomiting in reverse.
It seems only fair to position the egg in a more positive light for its contribution to drinking. And it does feature in a surprising number of cocktails.
I’m not a massive fan of the Nogs or the Flips which contain a whole egg, but I will concede that I may not have explored these at their finest. I favour the Sour or the Fizz. A Fizz can contain the egg white, yolk or both, and the Sour contains the egg white only – if at all. The defining characteristic of a Sour is that it has a citrus base.
Like the Peruvian Pisco Sour, an excellent place to start.
Pisco is a brandy made in Peru and Chile (but the Chilean Pisco Sour doesn’t contain egg), and when mixed with lemon juice, egg white and couple of other simple ingredients (it’s another IBA Official Cocktail) creates a tangy and frothy cocktail.
I say leave matters to the professionals and can recommend a sashay down AC/DC Lane in Melbourne to Pastuso for their Journey Through Peru set menu and accompanying Pisco Sours. Yes I can.
Unsatisfied with leaving you, dear readers, with only one road-tested eggy cocktail, I worked tirelessly over my holiday and went to a bar in Christchurch.
Christchurch has had a bastard of a time since the quakes in 2010 and 2011 and there’s still parts of the city with extensive damage. But trust those plucky Kiwis, there are cool bars and restaurants aplenty, and to assuage parental travel guilt, try the brand spanking new Margaret Mahy Playground where you’ll need to resist the temptation to elbow the kids out of the way and hog the equipment. Best playground ever.
But quick, back to the bar.
At Mexicano’s I tested the rum-based Jamaica Sour, the hibiscus making it pretty but more sweet than sour, before shifting to the Loco Explosivo, a tequila, Grand Marnier, chili and egg-white offering. The egg-white in both adds little discernible taste, but the shaking makes the egg-white fluffy, with a latte-like foam on top. A counterpoint to the chili-burn.
Plus an option to buy a moustache.
After the Explosivo, this seemed a capital idea, although the $2 spent on my new look seemed an awful waste of the thousands of dollars I have spent on hair removal over past decades.
Sour done, on to the Fizz.
Back in the 1980s, you’ll remember a fantastic little quartet from England won Eurovision with THIS great song. Their name was Bucks Fizz (annoyingly without an apostrophe), which is also allegedly the name of a cocktail.
Except, much as you wouldn’t technically call Bucks Fizz a band (even if, like me, you know ALL the words to Land of Make Believe and Making Your Mind Up – and I defy you to name a single other BF song without using the internet), Buck’s Fizz the cocktail isn’t a Fizz, even though it does have an apostrophe. Nope. It’s just champagne and orange juice.
See real Fizz has egg. There’s Silver Fizz, which contains egg white, Golden Fizz with egg yolk and Royal Fizz with the whole enchilada. And the secret is in the shaking baby (and check out the shaking in the clip below, paying particular attention 1:17 where Cheryl expertly deals with a flaccid mike and to the extras throughout who apparently serve to make up The Land of (piss-weak) Make Believe – oooh it’s so mystical, a juggler, a fire-twirler, an old-fashioned couple and a body-builder doing pointless pec wiggling at 2:42. Ah, the 1980s).
And the Ramos Fizz, that’s a REAL Fizz. Created in 1888 in New Orleans by Henry C Ramos and becoming such a hit at Mardi Gras that Ramos’ bar employed 35 Shaker Boys working solely to meet demand for the cocktail in 1915. A great cocktail, but labour-intensive as this video shows. Your Shaker Boy or Girl will need to shake for between 1 and 12 minutes, first without ice (the Dry Shake), then with the ice. Don’t stand for a one minute shake, that’s just lazy. Don’t order one on a Friday night before Christmas at the Opera Bar. That’s just rude. And tip your bartender. That’s just polite.
For reasons I can’t quite get to the bottom of, the cocktail is attached to Tennessee Williams and is drunk regularly in his honour in New Orleans. I can’t find much evidence of Williams favouring the cocktail, nor writing much about it. In this PARIS REVIEW interview, he speaks of his heavier-drinking days and of wine, but this isn’t a cocktail you’re going to be downing at a Hemingway rate. Too much effort and can’t be slipped into a flask for opening nights.
But Williams would no doubt have approved of the phalanxes of Shaker Boys, and his work has been important in “normalising” homosexuality in entertainment, in getting the conversation out of the closet. (And read Caitlin Moran’s excellent Gay Moon Landing piece from The Times in 2011 for a fab discussion about the importance of art in advancing human rights. Better yet, buy Moranthology and get this plus a great interview with Keith Richards that I was reading on plane as it landed, immersed in marveling that this man could still somehow be alive as phones around me were turned on and news spread that David Bowie had died. Still seems impossible).
Interestingly, Williams (again in Paris Review) explicitly says he never felt much of a need to explore homosexuality in his work, but he certainly does in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
If you haven’t read this, or seen the 1958 movie, I’d recommend you do both. The movie adaptation glossed over much of the relationship between Brick and Skipper, but it’s still a worthwhile watch, and not just for the exquisite beauty of Elizabeth Taylor or the blue of Paul Newman’s eyes.
There’s only one cast member from the movie still alive, Madeleine Sherwood who played “that monster of fertility, Mae” and owns every single scene she’s in. Pregnant Mae also reminds us of how pleasing it is that maternity fashions have progressed in recent decades. I have a massive girl-crush on Sherwood and would love to have a cocktail with her.
In 1963, Sherwood was arrested and jailed in Alabama (in her grey plaid culottes) as she joined the Freedom Walk. The Freedom Walk was started by white mailman Bill Moore in April 1963 when he attempted to walk from Chattanooga, Tennessee to Jackson, Mississippi to hand deliver a plea for racial tolerance to the Governor. He was shot dead. One week later, nine activists attempted to finish his walk but were beaten and jailed. This was the first of five unsuccessful attempts to complete Moore’s delivery. Sherwood risked her safety and her livelihood in this post-McCarthy-era but her presence drew important attention to the Congress on Racial Equality’s non-violent direct action (read Mary Stanton’s Freedom Walk: Mississippi or Bust for more).
Sherwood also portrayed Mother Superior in The Flying Nun, the super-strange late 1960s TV series in which Sally Field’s Sister Bertrille can’t actually fly, is just so dangerously underweight that she gets lifted away by the wind under her coronet. There’s a good message for the kids. Here’s an episode where the nuns conspire to get their hands on a huge organ. (I don’t recommend you spend 23 minutes of your life watching it, but I wanted to make that organ joke).
But Sherwood’s greater work Cat on a Hot Tin Roof deals with gender roles and vicious fights for control of a dynasty. I’m sure it has been much on the minds of the various iterations of Bucks Fizz as they battled in court over who owns the name. Good news for fans is that you can catch one of the new iterations (there are two, Bucks Fizz is proliferating at a dangerous and unnecessary rate) at London Hippodrome on 1 April 2016 as they commemorate 35 years since their Eurovision win. Somehow there are still tickets available to a concert where people will know precisely two songs.
Maybe that’s unfair, there is possibly a new generation of fans (clearly not the guy who posted this on You Tube though, take a look at his commentary) who came from facial-hair-free-perpetual-blonde Bucks Fizz core member Cheryl Baker’s stint on BBC morning television with her fantastically and symmetrically-named Eggs ‘N’ Baker.