A fizz is mixology speak for a “sour” made “tall” with the addition of sparkling water and an optional egg white.
In the mid-18th century, it was the near-universal remedy for hangovers. As cocktail guru Dave Wondrich put it: “A Fizz, you see, was what a sporting man would moisten the clay with directly upon arising — an eye-opener, corpse-reviver, fog-cutter, gloom-lifter, what-have-you.”
Let me build a fizz for you, term by term:
The “sour” is typically a category of mixed drinks composed of a base liquor, a sour acidic element (typically lemon or lime juice), and a sweetener (like sugar, simple syrup, grenadine or even a sweet alcohol like triple sec).
A “short” drink is mostly alcohol, flavored with either limited amounts of non-alcohol or with other alcohols, and so is served typically in a glass better suited to such potency, i.e., a short glass.
A “tall” drink, by contrast, is a mixed drink in which the alcohol is adding flavor and potency to the majority non-alcohol or low-alcohol ingredients. That is, most of the volume of a “tall” drink is non-alcohol or low-alcohol, and requires a tall glass to contain it.
The fizz is basically a sour with bubbles added. Its formulation from “short” to “tall” requires a little rebalancing of ratios to adjust for the dilution effect of carbonated water, or to recalibrate for the additional flavors of a fizzy low-alcohol, like sparkling wine, or for the added flavors of flavored seltzer.
There are lots of classic and contemporary fizzes to be enjoyed, but here are two easy and delightful examples to get things started.
This most classic of fizzes, sometimes also called simply a Gin Fizz, is arguably the most pleasing to cut the heat and humidity.
2 ounces gin
¾ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
¾ ounce simple syrup (a 1:1 ratio of sugar dissolved in water)
1 egg white
Hard cracked ice
Add the gin, lemon juice, simple syrup and an egg white to a cocktail shaker, fill with hard cracked ice and shake furiously until well chilled (12-15 seconds). Strain into tall chilled but empty highball or Collins glass, top off glass with soda water. Note that the fizz is not served over ice; rather it is meant to be consumed quickly, and without added dilution from melting ice in your glass.
Exact origins are obscure, but by Prohibition it was already well known in the New York area as a Chicago import.
1 ounce dark rum (Gosling’s Black Seal, around $20, is fine here, though Ron Zacapa Centenario 23 Year Old Solera Rum, around $45, is out-of-this-world good for this)
1 ounce ruby port (of the only two kosher ruby ports available, I prefer the Quevedo to the Porto Cordovero in this application)
½ ounce lemon juice
½ teaspoon superfine sugar
1 egg whites
Same as the Silver Fizz. Note that all fizzes are better with soda water from super bubbly water, like the kind you get from a bar’s soda siphon — I don’t happen to have one at home either. You can either give the bottle a careful shake before pouring, or if you use one of those carbonating devices — the old-fashioned soda bottles with carbon cartridges that you screw into the bottle, or a contemporary SodaStream — you can make the soda extra fizzy before use. Bottom line: you want real bubbles. L’chaim!
Send your wine and spirits questions to Joshua E. London at email@example.com.