Words by: Jane Ryan
Eggs are used in cocktails to enhance texture and pull flavours together. But they’re rarely added to provide taste. Should egg whites and yolks be bringing more to the table than just viscosity?
Every bartender has experienced the often difficult task of trying to convince someone new to the world of cocktails to give eggs whites a go. The selling point? You can't really taste the egg. But what if these modifiers were helping to create flavour as well as volume from the trapped air.
Eggs: the facts
- The colour of the shell isn't an indication of quality or the bird's feed, it's dictated by the breed of bird.
- Eggs marked with the Lion Quality stamp have been laid by hens vaccinated against salmonella.
- Organic eggs are the most expensive, as they are laid by hens who have been reared in the most humane way possible. Everything from their housing, freedom of movement, and food is strictly governed.
- After organic, free-range is the next best environment for a hen to be raised and then barn eggs. Lastly caged eggs rank as the most inhuman way to farm hens.
- The chemical make up of eggs acts as the glue to many important cooking reactions.
- A fresh egg will sink in water, a stale one will float
The main issue with using eggs in cocktails is the aroma they give off; something comparable to dog breath or damp dog smell. The trick of disgusing this is the simple addition of a few dashes of bitters. Hence why most Pisco Sours have delightful patterns created on the surface.
However infusing eggs removes this side effect. Placing whole eggs in a sealed glass container with aromatic ingredients such as truffles, and placed into the fridge overnight, will give the eggs a wonderful perfume and flavour thanks to the porous nature of an egg shell.
This trick doesn't have to apply only to cocktails, it can be a great way to change up a simple dish such as scrambled eggs.
Another way to change the aroma and give subtle flavours is wrapping the eggs overnight. For example when creating a banana-flavoured drink the eggs can be wrapped in banana leaves.
Why is this important? Apart from taking the aroma away, each ingredient in a cocktail should earn its place, particularly for competitions.
Words by: George Bagos
I had seen egg white being infused before, but only the whites, so I thought to myself: why not infuse whole eggs and allow other flavours to permeate through the shells?
The question was how. A friend of mine told me that you shouldn't insert whole eggs in liquid, as that can destroy a thin membrane that protects the egg white and yolk from the salmonella that exists on the shell, so I started infusing whole eggs with various citrus peels, spices such as cinnamon, truffles and teas, then making egg sodas - simply whole egg, sugar and soda water.
I worried about the freshness of the eggs. Obviously you want to treat infused eggs as you would regular eggs - it wouldn't be advisable to leave an egg to infuse for two weeks and then use it raw. So I quickly realised the ingredients I used needed to be strong in flavour if you intend to use the yolk too, in order to retain maximum freshness. I have only experimented with infusing chicken eggs, but I am guessing it could work with any egg.
Any container, glass or plastic will do as long as it has a good lid that seals properly. I use kilner jars and store them in the fridge. I'm guessing infusing them outside is probably OK, depending on the ambient temperature, and that might decrease the infusion time, but just to be safe I kept mine chilled. Pack your botanicals around the eggs tightly.
Each ingredient depending on the power of the flavour demands different quantities and infusion times. I found the most successful botanicals that influenced the yolk taste were citrus. I believe the essential oils from the citrus are more powerful and go through the shell faster. One of my most successful experiments has been with bergamot-infused eggs. For these, I use 1kg of bergamot peels for every four eggs for four days. Any longer will have a bitter effect on the drink. I tried Lapsang Souchong tea but the effect on the yolk was minimal. By the way, you can expect the colour of the yolk to change, depending on what you put in.
When cracking an infused egg, you need to whip it to see if the expected taste has been acquired. I added soda water and tasted both the egg and the foam, which carries all the flavour. On the finished drink you are left with a cream-like texture, if you add soda water it will taste more or less like a sparkling ice cream.
Glass: Wine glass
Method: Shake all ingredients with a single ice cube to emulsify the egg, then strain in a chilled wine glass, top with sparkling water, first pouring from a distance to create the foam and then to top the drink. This also provides the dilution for the drink.
40ml Don Julio reposado tequila
15ml Grand Marnier
15ml Lillet Rouge
1 whole Bergamot-infused egg
Origin: Adapted from the Cafe Royal Cocktail Book.