Alcohol

Reason.tv: Cocktail Shakedown—The New War Against Classic Mixed Drinks

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Beat a raw egg white into a citrusy cocktail and you get a meringue-like effect, frothy and delicious. The resulting beverage—technically classified as a flip or fizz—is irresistible, not just to cocktail connoisseurs but to regulators and food cops.

On January 19, 2010 one of New York's cocktail hot spots, the Pegu Club, got in trouble with city health department officials for serving just such a drink.

Despite warnings printed on the menu, and raw egg white listed in the ingredients, a health inspector busted a bartender for failing to verbally inform a customer of the risky ingredient. Pegu Club had to yank the Earl Grey MarTEAni from the menu, restoring it only after the health department backed off serious penalties and a court summons.

America is in the midst of a cocktail renaissance. A cadre of elite mixologists in New York, Portland, D.C., and other creative-class cities is bringing back classics and offering new twists on old techniques. Yet retrograde health inspectors and bureaucrats are cracking down on innovation from coast to coast. Indeed, a San Francisco bar ran afoul of regulations by having the audacity to make its own bitters.

Todd Thrasher is an award-winning mixologist at PX Lounge in Alexandria, Virginia. In this video, he speaks with Reason.tv about the perils of doing booze business in Virginia, the virtues of free choice at the bar, and the relationship between freedom and innovation. All while mixing up a swank fizz cocktail for his interlocutor, Reason Senior Editor Katherine Mangu-Ward.

And for those inclined to play the home version of Reason.tv, here's the recipe for Melanie's Pisco Pipe Dream:

  • 1.5 oz Pisco
  • .75 oz coconut Water / coconut milk mixture
  • .75 oz sweetened Meyer lemon juice
  • .25 oz citrus vinegar
  • white of one egg
  • 1 tsp powdered sugar

Put all contents in a shaker and dry shake (without ice) for 30 seconds. Add ice, and shake for 1 minute, double strain into a coupe glass and garnish with Meyer lemon-black pepper reduction. Relax and enjoy responsibly.

Shot by Dan Hayes and Meredith Bragg, who also edited the piece. Approximately 8 minutes long. Scroll down for embed code and downloadable versions. Subscribe to Reason.tv's YouTube page and receive automatic notification when new material goes live.

NEXT: Friday Funnies

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  1. Meyer lemon-black pepper reduction?

    Jesus Christ.

    I’m a foodie, but for god’s sake doesn’t anyone just drink fucking gin anymore? Fucking hipsters.

    1. Ham, I recommend Warren Ellis’ Cocktail Recipe t-shirt for you
      http://www.warrenellis.com/?p=8938

      1. I am buying this.

        Don’t get me wrong. Cocktails are just fine as long as they are limited to the classics. No fucking infused whatever the crap.

        The Old Fashioned is the only acceptable way to gay up bourbon.

  2. Todd Thrasher is an award-winning mixologist at PX Lounge in Alexandria, Virginia.

    Sounds like a delightful place:

    The only way of knowing the PX is open is whether the skull and cross bone flag is up, and the blue light outside the door is on. Located above Eamonn’s Dublin’s Chippery, there is no absolutley no sign in sight. Dress well because that will be the deciding factor for you being invited up to this swank speakeasy. The d?cor is gorgeous and for the size of the place you’ll understand why it’s so selective. The cocktails are expensive but each one is hand-crafted to perfection and made completely from fresh ingredients. It’s a great way to impress a date…if you can get inside.

  3. for failing to verbally inform a customer of the risky ingredient.

    Failing not verbally, but rather orally.

    “Verbally” means using words, as the menu did.

    So sue me.

    I said nothing, not a thing, about the split infinitive.

    Not. A. Thing.

  4. This drink sounds an awful lot like the official cocktail of Chile, the Pisco Sour…

  5. OK, I haven’t seen the video, but my understanding is that it’s technically illegal for a restaurant to serve a real Martini in Virginia. Something about an obscure law making it illegal to mix wine with liquor.

    Read about this several months ago when Virginia’s worthless Alcohol Beverage Control (control, how appropriate) agency was hassling a restaurant which was making its own Sangria.

    This law apparently dates from the early post-prohibition era when there was a moral panic that unscrupulous young men were having bartenders spike their female dates’ wine with liquor.

    1. The legislature repealed that law last year, I believe. Actually, I’m not sure. I know that sangria at least was legalized, but they may have only carved out an exception for sangria.

  6. Oh, … See morecome ON. What’s next? Customers must all sign a legal waiver with ink stating that they know the ingredients of a drink include raw egg (which may contain salmonella or other bacteria known to cause food poisoning?) Maybe a waiver stating that they agree that by purchasing an alcoholic drink, they know they are buying a beverage that requires them to be of legal age, that it may be intoxicating, that if they do not have reliable transportation home they may be forced to hail a taxi or take public transit to avoid operating a vehicle while under the influence, that alcohol has been known to cause health problems including cirrhosis of the liver and addiction, and they agree that they have been made aware of the terrible risks? SHEESH? Nanny state strikes again.

    I generally prefer single malt Scotch, neat, a microbrew, or a gin and tonic. Or Pimm’s and lemon seltzer when I want something a little sweeter (British lemonade being generally unavailable). Or, with dinner, wine. However, I love the wide number of creative concoctions out there, and read bartending guides for fun. Not sure what’s more behind the crackdowns, a new streak of prohibitionism, or a growing obsession with liability, disease, and ritual pollution. If I were an anthropologist I’d have a field day with this. At any rate, I think the crackdowns are ridiculous. If we go to a bar or a pub, we’re adults. We understand the risks of certain drinks. We are responsible for our own behaviour, and our own food poisoning if we contract it. I hate having my intelligence insulted.

    1. Not sure what’s more behind the crackdowns, a new streak of prohibitionism, or a growing obsession with liability, disease, and ritual pollution.

      There is no difference.

  7. allende, the Peruvian restaurant near my house makes a kickass Pisco Sour. By far my favorite way to consume meringue.

  8. “Haha! Caught you! You didn’t verbally orally inform her that the drink has alcohol in it! That’ll cost you…”

    WTF? I didn’t need an additional reason to avoid NY, but thanks for the reinforcement.

    PS Plain ol’ gin and tonic, thanks

  9. DC is a creative-class city??? That line made me laugh. Out loud. My fellow souless robo-bureaucrats are prairie-dogging me.

  10. Drinks with eggs in them are silly. You’re paying to get drunk, not eat breakfast.

  11. Drinks with eggs in them are silly. You’re paying to get drunk, not eat breakfast.

  12. @JLE: no, that’s what _you’re_ paying for 😉

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subjective_theory_of_value

  13. This whole “adults making their own decisions” is so fucking old. You people need to nanny up. Forget about that damn Constitution and individual rights. That crap is getting in the way of Hope and Change. There are 535 tards in Washington with one hip, cool mofo that have to do something. Wtf are they suppose to do? The status quo will not suffice. Nanny up, mofo’s!

  14. fresh eggs are safe to eat raw, its only older eggs near or past their expiration date that may potentially become infected with food-poisoning bacteria, just like other foods. but lets just say for the sake of argument that they were serving bad eggs, well considering this drink is served in ALCOHOL, an antiseptic, the bacteria will not survive long enough to infect the person drinking it.

  15. I doubt that salmonella could live in most cocktails, certainly not in beer due to beer’s combination of alcohol and carbon dioxide. Most flips, in addition, are then foamed by the insertion of a red hot poker. The heat cooks the egg in the drink.

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