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Where: Firefly, 1310 New Hampshire Ave. NW
Bartender: Jon Harris
Mystery Ingredient: Alka-Seltzer
Bartender Response: “It’s not easy. It’s not hard,” Harris said. “You’re just using it as a fizzing agent.” Then he took a sip of a glass of straight Alka-Seltzer: “That’s disgusting.”
What We Got: A chemistry lesson. Since Alka-Seltzer is a base, Harris chose to pair it with an acid, adding lemon juice and then sugar to balance out the chalkiness. He crushed two tablets with a spice grinder and harnessed the power of Alka-Seltzer’s “plop, plop, fizz, fizz” to make a spin on a cream fizz—no shaking necessarily.
How It Tasted: This drink was hands-down the foamiest I’ve ever tried. It also stung my taste buds with the lemon and chalky notes, but then again, it’s medicine. A bit more cream and sherry would’ve been nice. Worth pondering: Would a cocktail with Alka-Seltzer proactively cure the hangovers it causes?
Improv Points (1 to 5): 4. The immersion blender, the egg white powder, the cream, and the sherry made for an unexpected drink. For better or worse, Harris bravely embraced Alka-Seltzer, rather than masking it. Alka-Seltzer is an easy way to carbonate a drink, Harris said, and he might even add this cocktail to the menu, except for one little detail: “This has aspirin in it, so that’s kind of a problem.”
Makes 6 to 8 drinks
8 ounces Amontillado La Garrocha sherry
4 ounces Dewar’s White Label Scotch
6 to 8 ounces lemon juice
2 ounces viscous simple syrup (2 parts sugar to 1 part water)
2 ounces cream
2 teaspoons egg white powder
1 Alka-Seltzer tablet per drink (no need for a spicer grinder for home bartenders, tablet form will work too)
Combine the first five ingredients in a large container. Add egg white powder and mix in well, using an immersion blender if available. Keep mixture in fridge until ready to serve. Pour cocktail into highball glasses leaving of the glass empty. Drop one Alka-Seltzer tablet into each glass.
Photo by Adele Chapin