You can make a cocktail look fancy in several ways: with an Angostura Bitters drawing of yourself, citrus peels, herbs, or even egg white fizz. Few garnishes are both visually appealing and delicious. They can also act as insulation. Add a meringue flotation to your cocktail to improve it.
It is amazing how versatile and adaptable eggs are. The meringue is an excellent example of this. You can turn slimy albumen into a cloud dessert by whipping egg whites with sugar.
Meringue can be made in various ways and is usually divided into two types: cooked or uncooked. Uncooked meringues are unstable, so I rarely make them. Egg whites and sugar whip together perfectly, but the raw eggs cause the air bubbles to pop. The result is a weeping, oozy meringue.
I almost always prefer a Swiss Meringue in which sugar and egg whites are heated on a bain-marie. The egg whites are heated to a point where they are pasteurized and close to coagulation (144-149deg F) before being whisked in a stand or hand mixer. The meringue that results is composed of tiny, stable bubbles and looks like silk. This fluffy stuff can top a cocktail or any other dish.
This application was first tried on top of a Moscow Mule. At first, I thought it was whipped cream. But what I saw shocked me. I never would have thought to put meringue in a cocktail. It would be a sticky mess. But no, the meringue wasn’t sticky and was a perfect complement to the acidity of the ginger and lime. I was tempted to eat it, like the salted rims of margaritas or the cinnamon-sugar rims of seasonal pumpkin beers, but I realized that the best way to enjoy the cocktail is by combining all the flavors in one sip. A meringue-topped float is much better than a flavored rim.
The meringue is soft, fluffy, almost like a marshmallow without the shape. It’s a luxurious, smooth texture that never dissolves or weeps. The meringue top will stop temperature loss through the cup’s lid. It’s edible insulation. (Have you ever heard of an Alaska that’s been baked? This is an ice-cream cake that’s completely covered in meringue and baked. Air bubbles in the meringue don’t transfer heat well, so the ice cream stays cold while the outside gets a toasty color.
It’s not that your Irish hot cocoa or ice will melt, but the heat won’t escape the cup. If you want to keep your drink at the same temperature, try using a vacuum-insulated mug, and top the glass with meringue.
How to make cocktail-friendly meringue
In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar and egg whites in a ratio of 1:2. This will make the perfect “snow-topped” cocktail. If you are planning a party and want to top 12-15 cocktails with meringue, I recommend four ounces (about four egg whites) of egg whites and eight ounces of plain granulated, yielding about three or four cups.
Place a pot of medium size or smaller with one to two inches of water on the stove. On top of the pool, place the bowl with the sugar and egg whites. This is called a bain-marie. Make sure the bowl is at least a few inches above the water. If water touches the bottom when boiling, the egg whites may coagulate and ruin the meringue.
It would help if you constantly whisked the mixture once the mixing bowl had been placed in the boiling water. This will prevent the egg whites from coagulating. The machine will do the stirring for you. Stir fast and continuously, but not aggressively. After about three to four minutes, the mixture should be steaming. If you put your finger on it, it will feel hot. Rub your fingers together, and you shouldn’t feel any sugar grains. You can use a stand mixer, but it will take longer. Whip on medium speed for 5 to 10 minutes or until you can see medium or soft peaks. Congratulations, you’ve made Swiss meringue.
Meringue can be paired with many flavors. It only tastes sweet unless you add flavoring extracts. It’s excellent in a Moscow Mule because it balances out the tartness and sting of ginger with the sweetness. But it would be good in any cocktail intended for dessert. Fill the cocktail to within a quarter-inch of the rim. Place a 1/4 cup scoop on top. You can garnish the meringue with chocolate shavings, citrus zest, or whatever you like. Swiss meringue does not last well overnight, regardless of its stability. You should use it within 4 to 6 hours after making it.
Swiss Meringue Ratio & Method
- Egg whites: 1 part (large batch of 4 ounces).
- Two parts sugar granulated (8 ounces).
A medium pot filled with 2 inches of water and a mixing dish will create a bain-marie. Pour the sugar and egg whites into the mixing bowl and constantly whisk over medium heat. The water in the bain-marie should be kept from touching the bottom mixing bowl.
Whirl this way for 3-4 minutes or until you see the mixture steaming. Put your finger into the mix to test it. You can transfer the mixture to the mixer if it’s hot and no sugar granules are on your finger.
Whip the egg whites with a whisk attachment until they reach a soft or medium peak. This should take 5-10 minutes. Add flavoring extract at the end if you wish. Swiss meringue is a great way to top your favorite cocktail.