There’s nothing quite like the delicious, frothy, foamy velvet that comes from shaking an egg white for a whiskey sour. In fact, many cocktails include egg whites; bartenders use them as a tool to create an agitated froth for texture throughout the drink or for a merengue-like layer atop the libation. That layer can include shaved lemon zest or chocolate or sea salt or a drizzle of something delightful, and the creations are almost always photogenic to boot. Recently, I saw my friend ask a question on the Louisville Service Industry Facebook page (a private group for industry folk to post job inquiries and helpful advice, sometimes disagree with one another and pick each other’s brains). She asked: “What are your favorite methods for reducing food waste at the bar?”
Now, I’ve talked a lot in this column about new trends in bar sustainability regarding straws and garnishes, but when a commenter brought up eggs, and finding alternatives for them, it got me thinking. Do the masses know about alternatives for egg whites in cocktails, not only for creativity purposes but for bar shelf life, waste reduction and sustainability? You may have never thought about using eggs in your cocktails at home, and, now you don’t have to — try these alternatives instead.
Aquafaba — Aquafaba is the liquid left over in a can of chickpeas, or chickpea brine. It works wonderfully in traditional sours and fizzy libations because, according to Elizabeth Rushe at Tales of the Cocktail Foundation, it has the same properties as an egg white, working as “an emulsifier and foaming agent.” Many will say that even though an egg white provides the silky-smooth, airy froth in a cocktail, the visual just isn’t worth the wet dog smell of liquid egg in a glass. Aquafaba is quite malleable, doesn’t water down spirit flavors and definitely doesn’t smell like soggy chickpeas. Try your own aquafaba whiskey sour by using 1 tablespoon aquafaba, 2 ounces of whiskey, 2 ounces of lemon juice and 1 ounce of simple syrup. “Dry shake” the aquafaba by itself, with no ice, for 30 seconds and then add ice and remaining ingredients and shake again. Strain and garnish with a Luxardo cherry. That velvety goodness won’t make you think twice about ditching the egg.
Versawhip — Full disclosure, using this egg white replacement will require equipment such as a standing or handheld immersion blender, but the textural foam is a delightful result, if you’ve got the machinery and the time. Versawhip is soy protein treated to give the feel of egg whites. It’ll create an airy foam and can also replace gelatin. To incorporate, you can add juices to Versawhip to create flavored foams — for example, you could add apple cider or some kind of citrus juice to flavor the froth and layer on top of your cocktail. Some folks add xanthan gum to create even more body, but if you aren’t trying to get too molecular, the Versawhip on its own will get the job done. (Try the Deconstructed Pina Colada at Hearth on Mellwood Eatery with pineapple gum syrup for a taste of the delightfully frothy use of gum arabic in cocktails.)
Coconut foam — There’s not much that the coconut can’t do, and it seems as though my favorite palm drupe can be incorporated into cocktails in yet another format beyond the classic coconut cream. I found a few recipes for coconut foam. One involves gelatin (“bloom” two gelatin sheets and combine with water, lime juice, simple syrup and coconut milk and add to a “whipper”), which won’t work for vegans. The other calls for you to combine coconut milk, lime juice and granulated sugar and, again, add to a whipper. Now, a whipper is equipment you may not have at home, but, if you do, give it a go, and I assure you that coconut foam atop a rum-filled tiki drink will take you to the islands just as it hits your lips.
Textural play is such a fun way to create art behind the stick. Why not bring these tips and tricks to your home bar and give your guests the sour of their dreams, one that’s not only delicious but is allergen-friendly and easier on our planet? I’ll be waiting for my invite to your aquafaba gin fizz party… send directly to LEO. Cheers! •