The Gentleman’s Companion Volume II: The Exotic Drinking Book lists many recipes that contain raw eggs, including many modern recipes that have since omitted them. A well-shaken egg changes the texture of the drink, adding a bit of foamy creaminess to it, and in the case of a yolk, a richness that only a golden orb of protein can provide. I won’t get into the science of it, as Wikipedia has done a nice job for me.
The first Astor Hotel Special I mixed up had an interesting aroma to it; not one of those “let’s analyze all this interesting complexity,” but more of a “maybe this egg isn’t very fresh” aroma. Although it tasted just fine, I went back to examine the egg white I had sloshed around a bit in a bowl, and sure enough, it had a bit of a funky odor. I simply dumped out the egg and my drink, washed out my glass and my boston shaker, and cracked open another egg in a new bowl. I made a point of observing its fresh non-smell.
Consuming raw eggs or any other foods may make some of you a bit squeamish, but the possibility of getting a foodborne illness (e.g. salmonella) from a properly refrigerated and fresh egg is negligable. Well, at least that’s how I look at it. There’s nothing you could tell me about the safety of beef cured in salt, sugar, orange juice, soy sauce, chile, cracked peppercorns, mint, vodka, ginger, and star anise that would keep me from loving every bite. Hell, I’d even try the lightly boiled turkey sashimi that Iron Chef Michiba delicated waved in a pot of boiling water for 10 seconds. I have had food poisoning before, and I’m willing to take that risk in the pursuit of good food and drink. Plus, the chance of getting salmonella from a properly refrigerated and fresh egg is something like 1 in a billion. But that’s not an official stat. If I were to back it up with data, you may, in your newfound raw-egg-safety glee, go out and consume a carton of them. And this would probably leave you with a sick stomach anyway.
The Astor Hotel Special
- 1 1/2oz cognac
- 1tsp maraschino liqueuer
- 2tsp egg white
- 3/4oz Pernod
- 1/2tsp lemon juice
- club soda
From: The Gentleman’s Companion Volume II – An Exotic Drinking Book, Charles H. Baker, Jr.
If I had to compare this to another cocktail; I’d say it is a mild version of The Calcutta. This makes little sense, however, since the only common ingredients are Pernod and egg white. The original recipe calls for Absinthe instead of Pernod, so I will post an update when I try it with Absente, which I hope to snag a bottle of this week. If someone handed me this cocktail in a beer mug, I’d probably mistake it for a hefeweizen, as it looks nearly identical. The aroma is strangely caramelized, and the overall flavor is rather interesting, and rather hard to put a finger on.
Charles H. Baker, Jr. sipped this cocktail first in Shanghai during a trip around the world, and I strongly believe he had imbibed at least seven of them before authoring the history of the drink. I could try to make sense of the writing, but it would probably offer little insight.