Egg Whites in Cocktails

Recently, I met a date at a favorite watering hole: Flatiron Lounge. I asked the bartender to make me a mocktail that I made-up: fresh ginger, lemon and honey. I’ve requested this many times at Flatiron Lounge, from different waistaff when I’ve brought date there or even way back when I brought authors there [not for a date silly, just to talk about their projects].

This last time was no different. Except it was a Sunday. And the joint was empty. So the bartender, maybe having some extra time on his hands, gave my drink something special: a head. Yes, my tall glass of ginger lemonade came with at least an inch of foam atop. I hadn’t’ seen that foamy business on my mocktail before but didn’t give much thought to it.

I sipped. Tasted OK. Not too sweet, a hint of fresh ginger and mint and a background sourness from the fresh lemon.

Then thought the better of my taste: what if he slipped me some Amaretto, just to be “nice”.

I find bartenders are often “nice”. It’s their job to be personable and friendly, and often, if you’re a regular, or a girl, they may give you twice the amount of alcohol requested or slip something flavorful into your drink without you knowing exactly what. I’ve had bartenders put lychee nut [a fruit] into ginger ale and make soft drinks hard just in an effort to please the customer, namely, me. They don’t mean ill; in fact, quite the opposite. Most people who come into a bar, appreciate the extra booze or the extra fruit, the extra effort really.

And I love extra effort and extra care: it's wonderful. However. I, like any allergic person, prefer to get exactly what I asked for, no additions please.

My date noticing that I wasn’t drinking my special drink asked if it was all right. I said it seemed to be but I needed to make certain. We called over the bartender who came out from behind the bar to talk with us. (I told you it was dead in there.)

I asked, “Can you tell me what exactly is in this?”

He said, “Sure. Fresh ginger, lemon, honey, water and egg whites.”

“Egg whites?”

“Yeah, they make it nice and foamy. Is that OK?”

“Yes,” I stammered.

I turned to my date who was as surprised as I.

Concerned, he asked, “Are you allergic to eggs?”

“No,” I replied,“Luckily, I’m not but what if I were? This drink would be a potential killer.”

Raw eggs in cocktails are nothing new but there are having a revival. As the New York Times reported last week: “Suddenly, eggs are everywhere. Just a year ago, a bartender in the meatpacking district lamented that while she longed to add a flip to her cocktail list, she feared it would be impossible to sell a drink that listed eggs as an ingredient. (‘I can’t leave it off, though,’ she said. ‘What if someone’s allergic to eggs?’)”

Smart woman!

The New York Times continues: “Why all the eggs? They blend the drink, and add body to it...A hard-shaken egg white adds foamy texture to a cocktail.”

The New York Times added one sentence about the pubic health issue, side stepping egg allergies completely. “As for salmonella, New York City’s Department of Health doesn’t seem too fearful — so long as customers are informed, a spokesman said, adding that raw eggs are legal.”

I wish my bartender at Flatiron Lounge felt so inclined to let me know there was egg in my drink. The fact that I was not informed is nicht gut. But again I didn’t have an issue.

For those of you with an egg allergy, who go out to drink at upscale restaurants or trendy bars in large cities, beware my friends: raw eggs in drinks are coming back.


Shannon B. said…
I can imagine that as an allergic person you want to know exactly what you're getting, presuming that eggs could, I don't know -- kill you,

but the thing is, I think most people like to know what they're getting in a drink, even if they're not allergic.

If I was a restaurant owner, I'd want to make it clear to my customers that there may be some egg foam. I'm not allergic, but I'd love to know I was getting something raw or in the case of the days I choose to eat Vegetarian, something made of meat.

I agree, it's nice to have a bartender give you a nice little something-something, but it's always polite to ask and I'm sure in some cases would peak curiosity if you phrased it: "Would you like egg foam, it really adds to the consistency and give it a lot of body, I recommend it if you don't have any allergies or reservations"
Most people enjoy learning more about the drinks they're consuming anyway, I might even opt in to watch him/her mix it.

I'll keep on the look out in Boston to see if raw eggs are appearing in our drinks, too. I'm rather curious about this.
Allergic Girl® said…

it was funny to me that i had this drink 2-3 weeks ago and then there's the story in the NYT that it's all the rage.

so definitely keep an eye out in boston--your girly drinks might start to show up with a head of egg white in the very near future...
Alisa said…
I know what you are saying. I once had a drink while waiting for our table (just 1!) and a half hour later I became very ill (yes, that kind of ill) and nearly lost consciousness. It seemed my drink had some milk in it. Luckily, we pretty much don't drink anymore.

Kind of a sideline topic, but I find the same problem with food. To be "nice" the chef will add a good sprinkling of Parmesan on a dish that didn't list the cheese at all. I have had to swap dinners with my husband a few times, which always makes me feel bad. He has been dairy-free with me for so long now that whenever he has cheese he gets horrible stomachaches!
Gaile said…
This is a really disturbing trend. I was a bartender for years, and the quick swish and rinse that most shakers get makes this a real concern - even if you get a drink without egg whites the risk of cross-contamination is very real. I think if I had an egg allergy, I would avoid places that serve these drinks altogether, unless they could guarantee that my drink would be made in a shaker that had never seen a raw egg white.
Allergic Girl® said…
gaile--smart idea, asking bartenders to give a good clean or use a new shaker.

alisa--im not much a drinker either, esp not of mixed drinks. i mean really i made up my own mocktail, who knew that there'd be EGG in it.

and yeah chefs are "nice" that way too. it comes from a good place generally. i've had chefs send out amuse bouches, or comp'ed dessert that i can't eat but i really appreciate the effort.

however, parm cheese when you've told them dairy allergic, is NOT good.
Unknown said…
I must confess I completely forgot raw eggs can be in drinks! And I never thought about allergy to wine. Thanks for these interesting posts. BTW, I read your restaurant reviews with great interest. It is always helpful to get more information on eating out with food allergies, especially restaurant specific info! Thanks again.
Britta said…
I never thought eggs could be in a drink before, but two weeks ago we were in Southern California and the house special margarita had an asterisk, which led to a raw egg disclosure statement.

I'm still baffled by this!

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