Egg whites give a smooth texture and foam to cocktails, but getting the consistency just right can seem like a bit of a challenge. We asked award-winning bartender and author Ryan Chetiyawardana to give us his top tips.
Once you’ve learned Ryan’s technique, try our favourite cocktail recipes from our ultimate drinks hub.
Why are egg whites used in cocktails?
Egg whites are an excellent source of protein, but are fairly devoid of flavour or aroma. This is ideal for a cocktail, as it allows you to use the protein to trap air in your drink and change the texture without adding other flavours. In a classic sour (like a whisky sour, amaretto sour or a gin fizz) this softens the drink, giving it a luxurious weight – as opposed to the clean zestiness a sour has if it’s served without egg whites or another emulsifier.
Why can’t you shake an egg white cocktail with ice?
Shaking with ice allows you to chill and dilute your cocktail, but ‘dry shaking’ without ice allows you to maximise the effect of emulsification by unravelling the proteins so they can trap the maximum amount of air in your drink.
Try this technique on our party-ready bakewell shots, with an irresistible amaretto-and-cherry combination.
Can you use pasteurised egg whites?
Absolutely – although they lose some of their air-trapping potential when packaged in a carton or bottle, so you’ll need to use more.
Does it make a difference if the egg whites are fresh or not?
Fresh is best! This has the maximum impact, and least chance of a noticeable smell.
What sorts of drinks should you add egg whites to?
You can use egg whites in any drink that requires a thicker body. Egg whites can tone down the sharpness of a drink and make it feel richer, for example in a pisco sour, or it can soften and hold the flavours on your palate, as it does with a white lady cocktail. It’s best used in shaken drinks, so don’t stir it into drinks at the end. And, make sure you’re buying the best of the best with our advice on how to buy eggs.
What’s the best way to measure egg whites?
First, cut through the chalaza (the strands that fix the yolk in place) using a sharp knife, or give the egg whites a quick blast with a stick blender (only to cut through the chalaza, not to whip them). This way, the egg whites will pour cleanly and you can easily measure the correct amount. Or, use this quick guide: aim for about one egg white per drink.
Test out your technique with our Punjabi sour, a take on a classic whisky cocktail.
Can you substitute egg whites for aquafaba or other vegan alternatives?
Absolutely! Some of these alternatives require an adaption in recipe – as alcohol and acidity can fight against weaker emulsifiers – but aquafaba is a good substitute that’s easy to find.
Get more information on essential vegan alternatives and key ingredients for plant-based eaters with our guide.
Top tips for cocktails with eggs
- Fresh, well-sourced eggs make a great addition to your cocktail repertoire, but use the best you can buy.
- Keep the yolks – you could use them to make delicious homemade ice cream.
- You could also use a whole egg in an old-fashioned drink called a ‘flip’. Try our St Nick’s flip for a drink that’s like dessert in a glass.
Put spare yolks to good use in this terrific buttermilk, brown sugar & rye bread ice cream recipe from Diana Henry. Get even more inspiration with our top 10 ways with leftover egg whites and yolks.
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What’s your favourite classic cocktail? Leave a comment below…