Confessions of a
Ramos Fizz Maker
by Mel Fenson

According to legend, the Ramos Fizz originated as a Ramos Gin Fizz in the early 20th century, before prohibition, in a drinking establishment called the Imperial Cabinet Saloon in New Orleans’ French Quarter. It was named after the owners, the Ramos brothers, who were its inventors. They went out of business in 1919, when prohibition came in. Reputedly, the drink was originally conceived as a hangover cure because the cream coats your stomach and makes it easier to get the “hair of the dog” down. This signature drink found great success in the Ramos brothers’ Saloon.

I discovered the drink, while living in San Francisco. Both Sam’s in Tiburon, across the bay from San Francisco, and the Buena Vista in San Francisco are well known for their expertise in making this drink.

The Buena Vista is a well known SF establishment, located at the bottom of Hyde street, across from the trolley car turnaround in the Marina. It is in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge. Although, I consider the Ramos Fizz a breakfast drink, there is something good to be said about drinking one, while sitting in the Buena Vista at sunset and watching the sun go down between the towers of the Golden Gate bridge.

A Ramos Fizz is also great to enjoy with breakfast or lunch on Sam’s deck, next to the Corithian Yacht Club. You can smell the fresh Pacific breeze, while looking across the bay at San Francisco.

I haven’t been able to duplicate that feeling, where I live in Longmont, Colorado - even when I sip a Ramos Fizz on my deck, overlooking my neighbor’s driveway.

This decadent concoction, in addition to originally being thickened with cream and egg whites - before health concerns about salmonella stepped in - also called for the use of orange-flower water. I discovered in another San Francisco establishment - that fresh orange juice provides a much richer taste. Some bartenders use lime as well as lemon. I wouldn’t. And, I have substituted vodka for gin, which everyone, except martini drinkers, know is evil. It has also been rumored that a splash of vanilla will also add some warmth to the drink, but don’t melt the ice. I learned from a bartender at the Chart House in Hermosa Beach, California, that vanilla sure smooths a daiquiri, so it’s probably worth a shot in a Ramos Fizz, if you are feeling adventurous.

I once tried ordering a Ramos Fizz in a restaurant in Boulder. The server, returned with the bad news that, “sorry, we are out of Ramos. “ I didn’t bother to enlighten her. But dinner was good without it and it’s not really a dinner drink anyway. Just don’t ever try to order a Ramos Fizz in Boulder. You won’t get it.

As it turns out, Ramos Fizzes are not that easy to make. Amateurs should approach this undertaking with caution. I confess to making many batches that just weren’t up to par - when I first returned to Boulder from San Francisco and had a yearning for one. But eventually, through persistence and the refusal to accept fizz failure, I discovered the secret to making great Ramos Fizzes, and now I have decided to share my secret with the world. Not quite as earth-shaking an event as it would be if Microsoft shared its code, but it is certainly an important development for Ramos Fizz recipe seekers - of which there may not be if any in Colorado.

I would recommend a place to enjoy a Ramos Fizz in Colorado, but because they are all out of Ramos, try New Orleans or San Francisco, if you haven’t got the nerve to try to make one yourself. Good luck. MF


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