Happy Hour: The Gin Fizz

The Gin Fizz is a classic cocktail made with gin, lemon, simple syrup and soda water. The first printed recipe for a gin fizz was in an 1876 cocktail book, and the drink rose to mass popularity starting in the 1900’s. It’s a textbook sour cocktail that includes citrus, liquor and sweetener. An egg white is the magic behind that classic frothy foam topping.

For the sweetener in the Gin Fizz you can use either the standard simple syrup or maple syrup as a natural sweetener. It adds more interesting, nuanced notes here (and it doesn’t taste like maple, promise). Here are the Gin Fizz ingredients that you’ll need:

  • Gin
  • Lemon
  • Simple syrup or maple syrup
  • Egg white
  • Soda water

How to make a gin fizz cocktail

How to make a Gin Fizz? You’ll shake together the gin, fresh lemon juice, syrup, and egg white in a cocktail shaker without ice first, then add ice and pour it into two glasses. (That’s called a Dry Shake; see below!)

When you top off each glass with soda water, the carbonation combines with the egg white to make a frothy foam topping. It’s like magic. And it’s a trick that’s sure to impress all your guests.

The trick to the foam topping: a dry shake

Bartenders have added egg whites to cocktails since the 1860’s for two reasons: it adds a frothy texture the surface of the drink and gives each sip a creamy rich flavor. Most drinks are shaken with together with ice in a cocktail shaker. But in this Gin Fizz you’ll do what’s called a Dry Shake. Here’s how it works:

  • Shake the drink ingredients without ice first. This lets the protein in the egg begin to form foam, instead of being diluted by the ice.
  • Then add ice and shake again. This cools the drink and strengthens the foam. Strain it into the glass and you’ll get a thick, white frothy layer.

This method is used with many classic cocktails, and results in a lovely white layer of foam on top. See the Boston Sour or Pisco Sour for another foam-topped drink.

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