You could be forgiven for thinking the Ramos gin fizz came into existence on the border: the famously frothy cocktail is indelibly linked to the Cadillac Bar, a legendary Nuevo Laredo watering hole that hosted day-tripping Texans for almost eight decades. But the notoriously labor-intensive drink (it requires a whole lot of shakin’) was dreamed up in 1888 by famed barman Henry C. Ramos, who was a proud New Orleanian. As was the Cadillac’s proprietor, Achilles Mehault “Mayo” Bessan, who in the late twenties gave Prohibition the one-fingered salute, decamped for Mexico with Ramos’s recipe, and set up shop just off Avenida Vicente Guerrero, a few blocks from the international bridge. He hoped the classy name would lure respectable Texans to his genteel saloon, folks like my maternal grandparents, who lived in Mirando City and loved to take visitors there for fizzes and frog legs and shrimp Newburg (they’d prop my pint-size mom up at the bar with a virgin grasshopper).
Sadly, the Cadillac is gone, as are those carefree trips across the border. But the Ramos gin fizz, whose ethereality belies the muscle and sweat required to concoct it, lives on, fashionable once again among cocktail connoisseurs and only slightly less so among the poor bartenders called upon to make one.
Makes 1 drink
2 ounces Old Tom gin
1 ounce heavy cream
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
3 or 4 drops orange blossom water
1 heaping tablespoon superfine or powdered sugar
1 egg white
Combine all ingredients but the club soda in a shaker and dry-shake (without ice) for 1 or 2 minutes. Add ice and shake like there’s no tomorrow, for a minimum of 5 minutes (bartenders say shake until the mixture starts to feel “ropy”). Strain into a Collins or highball glass and top with a little club soda. Drink immediately.