Invented in the 1880s by Henry C. Ramos, in his bar at Meyer's Restaurant, this is one of New Orleans' most famous drinks. The secret of its flavor and texture is orange flower water and egg whites. When Huey P. Long was governor of Louisiana he brought with him to New York's Roosevelt Hotel the bartender from the New Orleans Roosevelt to train the NYC bartenders on how to make a proper Ramos Gin Fizz, just so he could have his beloved New Orleans gin fizzes whenever he was in New York. Yeah, sure, every man a king ...

Orange flower water can be difficult to find, but is available in better liquor stores or Middle-Eastern markets. You can mail-order it from Fee Brothers, and in New Orleans you can also obtain it from Martin Wine Cellar or Vieux Carré Wine and Spirits.

Be EXTREMELY careful when adding orange flower water to this drink! It can very easily overwhelm, making the drink taste like perfume. You want a light, flowery touch, so no more than 3 or 4 drops.

Shake all ingredients except the soda water WITHOUT ICE very vigorously for at least one minute, preferably longer -- the longer the better. Then add ice and shake for 1-2 minutes, as long as you can manage, until extremely cold and frothy. Strain into a tall thin glass, or a very large old fashioned glass, and top with soda water. Stir gently.

Modern variations include adding a few drops of orange bitters to the frothy foam atop the drink, or something even more exotic like a tincture of cardamom. This is not the traditional version, though.

Let's watch master New Orleans bartender Chris McMillian make one:


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Chuck Taggart   (e-mail chuck)