When you think of classic gin cocktails, the gin and tonic or martini probably spring to mind. But don’t sleep on the gin fizz! This classic cocktail, a staple at bars dating way back to the 19th century, calls for easy-to-find ingredients. It’s a refreshingly effervescent, reminiscent of lemonade, but for adults only.
A gin fizz is meant to be a quick sipper, not a cocktail to be savored leisurely. The way it’s made promotes that: gin, lemon juice, and a sweetener are shaken with ice and then poured into a short glass with club soda. Without ice, the drink warms quickly, and the bubbles turn flat if left in the glass for too long.
It’s the perfect pick-me-up, sometimes consumed a few in a row. I’m not telling you to do that, but if your happy hour is short on time or if a friend is stopping by for a quick porch chat, it’s a great opportunity to shake up a round of this citrusy, herbal cocktail.
Gin Fizz or Tom Collins?
Bars will often use these names interchangeably as they both contain gin, lemon juice, a sweetener, and fizzy water. However, there is a key difference. A gin fizz is traditionally shaken and strained into a smaller glass, like an 8-ounce highball.
A Tom Collins cocktail is served in a larger glass over ice. That Collins glass? That’s right. It’s named after the cocktail! The glass holds 10 to 12 ounces, which can accommodate the cocktail plus the ice.
Which Gin Should I Use?
Your favorite! With cocktails like this, where the gin really shines through, you’ll be able to taste and enjoy it, so pick a winner. I like a standard London Dry gin with a heavy juniper flavor and fewer added botanicals. Most brands will pair well with lemon.
However, some flavored modern American-style gins could clash with the lemon. If you’re not certain, try it first with Beefeater, a London Dry gin, and experiment from there.
Does Gin Fizz Use Egg Whites?
The egg white is not an ingredient found in the classic recipe introduced by bartender Jerry Thomas in the late 19th century—that’s when fizzes came into fashion. Many modern iterations do include an egg white.
Like many cocktail recipes, when an ingredient is changed or added, the name changes as well. The addition of egg white gets you a silver fizz. There is also the golden fizz, the royal fizz, the Ramos fizz, the sloe gin fizz, etc. You get the idea! For this classic recipe, I omitted the egg white.
A Modern Twist: Add the Egg White
If you’re looking for a modern iteration with an egg white or an egg white alternative, here are some suggestions.
- Dry shake—in the cocktail shaker without ice—the egg white with gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup. This will give the cocktail a foamier, thicker head.
- Not certain whether your egg whites are fresh? Consider using pasteurized egg whites, sold in a carton. Make sure it’s 100% egg whites without any additives.
- For a vegan alternative, try aquafaba! Aquafaba is the liquid found in a can of chickpeas. When shaken or whisked, it has a similar look and mouthfeel as egg whites. And no, it doesn’t taste like chickpeas. I use about 1 ounce of aquafaba instead of an egg white.
Top it Off
A garnish seems superfluous when a cocktail is meant to be sipped fast, not fawned over—it just gets in the way! However, if you’re shaking up a batch for guests, or would just like to have a little something on your drink, a lemon slice works and calls out to a key ingredient.
Mad About Gin
- Ice for the shaker
- 2 ounces London Dry gin, like Beefeater
- 1 ounce fresh lemon juice
- 3/4 ounce simple syrup
- 3 ounces club soda, chilled
- Lemon slice (optional)
Shake the ingredients together:
In a cocktail shaker filled two thirds with ice, pour in the gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Shake hard for 20 seconds.
Strain and serve:
Strain the mixture into a highball glass and top with the club soda. Garnish with the lemon slice, if using, and serve.
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