1 jigger Sweet Vermouth (1 oz Noilly Prat)
1 jigger Absinthe or Pernod (1 oz Pernod)
2 dash Orange or Angostura Bitters (2 dash Angostura Orange, 1 dash Angostura)
1 1/2 - 2 tsp Egg White (1/2 Egg White from a Small Egg))
Shake ingredients once without and once with ice. Strain into a champagne saucer.
Last night while Andrea was making dinner, I was flipping through my recent purchase of Charles H. Baker, Jr.'s Jigger, Beaker, & Glass: Drinking Around the World (*). The drink recipe that caught my eye was Firpo's Balloon Cocktail, the Calcutta Classic. The story Baker gives for this cocktail relates to Firpo's nightspot in Calcutta, India, where Firpo claimed that the fifth one of these 'balloons' would cause the imbiber to be "bobbing about up under the ceiling." I acknowledged Firpo's understanding of how strong his drinks were and modified the recipe by cutting the jigger down to an ounce and used the ingredients as specified above. The egg I used came from one of Andrea's co-workers who has a small farm in Southborough, MA. It is surprising how different farm fresh eggs are compared to the ones bought at stores from factory farms, even the organic cage-free ones. The egg white was yellow with beta carotene and thick, not runny.
The first drink I mixed from Baker's books is Firpo's Balloon Cocktail from Gentleman's Companion ... With Baker, you should have no qualms about adjusting recipes—ingredients have changed, and so have tastes. It seems like a quarter of Baker's recipes call for a big slug of 120-proof Pernod; try serving that at a bar today, and see how many you sell. Besides, Baker was a poet, not a chemist -- I imagine many of the notes he took while traveling were pretty hard to read the morning after.While Andrea and I seemed to enjoy the flavor of anise seed more that Frizell does, we do agree about the recipe's balance. And indeed, it may be the case that Baker's books are better read as literary or historical works rather than recipe resources.
(*) The New York Times has a great article on Baker's cocktail tour of the world.