7.2 Golden fizz

20 Jul

“We had a most poetical beverage last night,” Miss Lockett might say. “A Golden Fizz, the General called it. And I’m sure it must have been most wholesome, for I never felt better than I did last evening. Probably drinking it like that before dinner is better for the digestion …”

— Compton Mackenzie, Our Street (New York: Doubleday, 1934) p. 172.

When the Edwardian poet and sex symbol Rupert Brooke—who is best remembered today for the mawkish verses “The Soldier” and “The Old Vicarage , Granchester”—returned from a tour of America he was asked by brother Alfred and friend Algernon Grieg, “What did you think of the United States?”

‘Boys,’ he said, ‘my vivid impression of the United States is that they serve the best drinks in the world. One called a goldern fizz is divine.’ Leter I learned that he had visited all famous restaurants of London in search of the golden fizz. I suppose many of his worshippers will be disappointed to learn that things more material than rhymes and sonnets sometimes interest poets.

— “Minute Visits in the Wings”, New York Times, 4 June 1916.

So the man who once asked “Stands the clock at ten to three? / And is there honey still for tea?” in reality preferred a golden fizz cocktail. Can’t say I blame him.

The golden fizz is simply a gin fizz shaken up an egg yolk. Adding raw eggs to drinks was a common enough practice in the nineteenth century, even if these days people are leery of doing so. (As long as you use free-range eggs, which you ought to be buying as a matter of course, you’ll be fine.) Like its cousin the silver fizz, the golden fizz is meant to be restorative, providing nourishment as well as a kick. It was the energy bar of its day.

Jerry Thomas’ recipe, the earliest printed anywhere, is as follows:

Take 1 table-spoonful of fine white sugar. [1/2 oz.]

3 dashes of lemon or lime juice.

The yolk of one egg.

1 wine-glass of Old Tom gin. [i.e. 2 oz.]

All of which is then topped off with Seltzer water. Thomas is a little stingy with the lemon juice (although it’s in line with his gin fizz recipe and others published in the late nineteenth century). The next formula is pretty typical of early twentieth-century recipes (except for the suggested alternative of whiskey, by no means uncommon, it’s identical to Harry Craddock’s in the Savoy Cocktail Book):

1 egg (yolk only)

1/2 tablespoonful of sugar

Juice of one-half lemon

1 wine glass of gin or whisky.

. . . fill up with seltzer and drink while effervescent.

— James C. Maloney, The 20th Century Guide for Mixing Fancy Drinks (Chicago, 1900), p. 30.

Still-later recipes have tended to ease back on the gin somewhat (1.5 oz or 1 jigger is now standard) and increase the amount of lemon juice, as evidenced in this Seagram’s gin advert:

From: Life, vol. 2:19 (10 May 1937), p. 2.

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