Recently at Cocktail Shakedown—The New War Against Classic Mixed Drinks


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 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, 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's YouTube page and receive automatic notification when new material goes live.