Herbs & Rye owner Nectaly Mendoza is known for his uncompromising dedication to classic cocktails made the classic way. Uncompromising till now. The Ramos Gin Fizz can be the undoing of a place: a celebrated Golden Age cocktail that tradition dictates should be shaken a full 12 minutes to emulsify gin, egg whites, cream, simple syrup and lemon juice into an impossibly light, delightful fizzy froth kissed with orange flower water. As there were no Magic Bullets in the 1880s, bartenders took turns in a sort of relay that you can still see today at Vesper in the Cosmopolitan if you order yours “around the horn.” The trick is to get the foam firm enough to rise out of the glass like a soufflé. But, Mendoza contends, the traditional method is flawed, and likely always has been. Up until two months ago, he’s turned down orders for that drink, saying he was out of orange flower water. Why subject a beautiful cocktail to 12 minutes of unabated dilution? He broke it down and started over. Today, the Mendoza edition gets a quick iced shake, is strained, gets a quick dry shake and is then dumped hard over 1½ ounces of soda water. After settling, that is topped with another 1½ ounces of soda, and—boom!—a Ramos Gin Fizz soufflé popping two inches out of the glass! No doubt, when eight-tops are ordering rounds at a time, Mendoza and his staff are both as proud to be able to offer the drink as they are relieved to use the Mendoza Method, which above all, he says, simply yields a finer cocktail.
Ramos Gin Fizz—The Mendoza Method
As served at Herbs & Rye, $11
Pour 1½ ounces Fever Tree soda into a 13-ounce Collins glass and set aside. Into a cocktail shaker, combine 2 ounces Broker’s gin, ¾ ounce bar syrup (simple syrup), ¾ ounce lemon/lime juice, ¾ ounce heavy whipping cream (not half and half), 1 egg white (about ¾ ounce) and 4 dashes Neilson & Massey Orange flower water (1/4 ounce). Add ice, cover, shake for 10 seconds and double-strain back into the shaker tin. Cover and dry shake (no ice) for 10 more seconds then quickly pour the contents into the Collins glass. Allow to settle for 10 seconds, tapping the glass on a rubber bar mat to help the foam settle down. Pour another 1½ ounces of Fever Tree soda directly into the center of the cocktail from about 4 inches above the cocktail. The foam should be stiff and should rise up to two inches out of the glass as you pour. Express the oils from a swath of lemon peel over the top and rest the peel atop the foam.