Do you NEED foam on your cocktail? Honestly, no. There are plenty of drinks out there that can be made with or without foam, and you can happily argue either way as to whether one is better than the other.
The White lady is a perfect case in point. Made without foam it’s a short, crisp, dry drink that’s just a perfect little aperitif. However, there is a certain fluffy delight to pressing your lip into the cloudlike texture of the foam on a White Lady made with egg white (or aquafaba).
So, do you need it? Not always. Do you want it? Sometimes, yes, you 100% do! Try making a White Lady without foam, then make the Perfect Lady, (the same recipe as the White Lady, but made with Peach liqueur instead of a dry orange liqueur) with foam. Delicious!
That’s all well and good, but how do we get that rich foam we want on top of a cocktail. Well, there are a number of different options, and they can all work well, it really just comes down to preference.
Dry Shake, Wet Shake
A ‘dry shake’ simply refers to shaking ingredients in a shaker without any ice, hence ‘dry’ not ‘wet’. This process is used to whip as much air into the ingredients as possible before ice is added and the ingredients are shaken for a second time, this time to chill the ingredients and add the water needed to balance the drink.
A tip liked by some pros, is to take the spring from a Hawthorn strainer and add it to the shaker with ingredients for the dry shake. It acts like a balloon whisk as it flies from one end of the shaker to the other during the shaking process, helping to whip up the ingredients.
Reverse Dry Shake
Controversial to some, but the reverse dry shake does work if you are so inclined. As the name implies, shake with ice first, then shake without ice before straining into your glass.
Feeling lazy? Grab a stick blender and foam up the ingredients in the shaker before adding ice and shaking as normal.
A technique normally used to remove pieces of unsightly debris from fruit or herb after shaking to ensure a drink looks more refined in the glass.
However, in this case, it’s about getting that rich, tight, luxurious foam you want. By straining the drink through a fine strainer before the liquid enters the glass, it breaks any larger bubbles down creating that glossy finish you want.
You’re aiming for the look of a perfectly made flat white, not washing up bubbles.
Egg white, aquafaba, whatever foaming agent you use, none of them have particularly glorious aromatics. Not bad, but, not great either. To combat this, we need aromatics. The most typical is adding a twist of citrus over the top of the glass. Make sure to apply the twist from reasonable height over the glass or else the oils will break down the glossy finish on your foam.
Alternatively, you can use the approach of the Pisco Sour and add drops of bitters to the top of the finished drink. Another way to deliver powerful and more delightful aromatics to your drink.