Recently at 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: Justice Stevens Keeps Us Guessing

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  1. At 1:00, he says he puts acid in the cocktail. No wonder the cops want to put a stop to it.

  2. I’m torn and maybe, just maybe, will have to cancel my subscription. It’s awesome that these drinks are enjoying a renaissance but at the same time I cringe at the work involved in making these overly elaborate drinks. Conundrum for me.

    1. These drinks are completely acceptable if you’re dressed up like Don Draper and you’re buying them for some classy broad that you’re going to bang. You wouldn’t know anything about such matters, Naga, since you just bang cellulite-ridden woogirls. You degenerate prick.

      1. I thought Naga was a girl.

        1. LOL WUT

          1. John, you like your “women the same way I get my coffee, cold and bitter.” Just add hairy!

            1. There is only like five women who post on here. And for some reason I thought Naga was one of them.

              1. Isn’t he Asian, though? That’s pretty close to being a chick.

                1. that is funny

    2. I’m an avowed libertarian, and yet I’m terrified of being economically self-reliant. I’ve been living off a legal settlement rather than working for a living for most of my adult life. I feel like a hypocrite?but I’m not calling you one, Naga.

    3. will have to cancel my subscription

      I see what you did there.

      Crafty bartender.

    4. It takes me around six hours to brew ten gallons of beer, and you’re bitching about throwing some shit in a blender? Shut up and drink your flirtini!

  3. Washington is a “creative class” city? Damn that place has changed. I remember when it was all rednecks from southern Maryland or the mountains, a few hardcore kids, and a couple douchebags who wished they were in NY.

    1. Creative in that you learn to invent incredible new ways to not get assaulted or burglarized in the course of your day.

    2. And by the way some of those rednecks from the mountains pick the living shit out of banjos mandolins and such.

  4. Fad drinks. How long before the next new old thing?

  5. Geez, what ever happened to a shot of whiskey and a chaser of beer?

    1. You drank all of it.

  6. Geez, what ever happened to a shot of whiskey and a chaser of beer?

    I prefer a shot of bourbon with a chaser of bourbon, but whatever floats your boat, man.

    1. Decent bourbon is too tasty to waste as shots. You must be a Jim Beam-swilling reprobate or something.

  7. D.C. and other creative-class cities

    LOL WUT

  8. I appreciate a good cocktail, but it’s too much effort after work. Lately, it’s been Seagrams 7 Dark Honey with Jones Cream Soda. Or Shiner Black and shots of Woodford Reserve.

    1. She’ll be more aggressive in deterring oglers next time, too. You’d best stay away, Warty. No telling how far she’ll go to deter your ogling.

      1. I’m immune to banshee shrieks. Fuckin’ skank.

        1. Bullshit. That, plus a tramp stamp, is like a siren song to you.

          1. If that tramp has any tats, there’s no doubt that they’re ironic.

    2. “The group attracted many amateur and professional photographers.”

      Comedy.

      1. However, McDowell said she plans to organize similar demonstrations in the future and said she would be more “aggressive” in discouraging oglers.

        “I’ll be uglier and fatter next time. And so will my comrade sisters! You’ll see!”

    3. So she was enraged by reality of the human males nature demonstrating that her purpose is a forlorn hope? How typically progressive.

  9. Best mixed drink ever:

    1 part finest Scotch single malt
    2 parts Mountain Dew

    1. When we were kids, we’d drink whiskey and Mountain Dew. We called them WhiskeyDews.

    2. I once heard of a guy who made moonshine out of Mountain Dew syrup. I have been extremely intrigued and a little terrified ever since.

    3. Oh, now that is FINE trolling, since anyone who drinks Mountain Dew wouldn’t know a fine single malt Scotch if it was poured in his ear.

      1. Yet the men that refuse it are few.

  10. Decent bourbon is too tasty to waste as shots. You must be a Jim Beam-swilling reprobate or something.

    Fuck no. Ancient Ancient Age 10-Star, holmes. $12.50 a liter, and it’s surprisingly tasty as fuck. And when did i say anything about shooting the chaser? Shoot, sip, and repeat until you forget who’s on the penny.

    The purpose, she said, was for society to have the same reaction to a woman walking around topless as it does to men without shirts on.

    Then why did God put titties on ’em

    1. Because they make him hot.

    2. Ancient Age 10-Star

      I was going to tell you what a tasteless fuck you are, but then I realized I’ve never had the Bourbon. The Ancient Age blended whiskey they make is an abomination in the eyes of gods and man.

    3. Ezra Brooks. Word.

  11. Steve Nash, i will burn down your life.

  12. Any drink with raw eggs sounds fucken nasty.

  13. I was going to tell you what a tasteless fuck you are, but then I realized I’ve never had the Bourbon. The Ancient Age blended whiskey they make is an abomination in the eyes of gods and man.

    Bro, the repeated “Ancient” was not an accident. Ancient Age is swill, yes. But Ancient Ancient Age is one of Buffalo Trace’s finer bourbons, only it comes out of the distilling process the wrong color, so they can’t use the higher-end brand name. So i have heard, anyway, and so, from tasting the result, have i believed.

    1. Interesting. It doesn’t appear to be available at my local liquor mega mart, but if I spot some, I’ll give it a whirl.

  14. 1 out of 3 eggs has Salmonella. It’s generally not a problem, because it is usually in very low concentrations. The problems usually arise through cross contamination with other foods like salads. I know this because my state tried to ban all partially cooked eggs, in all restaurants. Some asshole with political connections got sick from eating runny eggs from a diner. It turned out, that it wasn’t the eggs that made him sick, it was cross contamination, probably from cutting vegetables on the same surface that they cut raw chicken on.

    1. Raw chicken is a ticking timebomb in any kitchen. How can any society that considers banning salt from the kitchen allow raw chicken in it?

      1. I don’t know. I personally don’t like handling raw chicken. If I do, I make sure I bleach everything it touches. Eggs aren’t bad, because they generally go directly into the pan or mixing bowl. After being cracked, of course.

        1. Puny human.

  15. Why the fuck anybody would think they need to add something to quality alcohol is beyond me . . . well, maybe ice, but that’s as far as I’ll go.

    and it better not be more than 2 cubes, either . . .

  16. I’ve been making a half-assed eggnog for years with three raw egg yolks, milk and sugar, and I haven’t got sick once.

    But I bet you’d have hell to pay if you tried to make a law in New York against swallowing a load, but they’ll freak on a bartender now if he makes a drink with an egg white.

    This is such a goofy universe.

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