Raw Eggs: Are they safe in your cocktails?

In continuing the food safety theme I seem to have chosen for the end of the week, I offer a note of caution with regard to cocktails.

As mixological wizardry increases and bartenders delve into flavors of olde, the raw egg white has come back into fashion. Shaking a drink with an egg white imparts a delightful frothiness and foamy mouthfeel reminiscent of an Orange Julius.

Ramos Fizz

photo by StuartWebster on Flickr.

Earlier this year a New York bar received a health citation for serving a drink that contained raw whites. No it’s not illegal to serve them, but it is illegal to serve them without telling the customer. Some drink-enthusiasts got pretty upset over the infraction but I personally think that customers have a right to know if they are consuming something potentially dangerous.

What is more interesting is the potential for cross-contamination behind the bar. Anything that touches raw egg (like the counter or the edge of a cocktail shaker when you crack it) needs to be cleaned and sanitized to prevent salmonella from infecting someone else’s beverage.

Moreover, many bartenders claim that alcohol kills Salmonella and removes risk from the equation. I was so curious (excited) about this possibility that I followed up with Doug Powell, the subject of today’s food feature for the scientific perspective.

He indicates that alcohol does not kill salmonella. It does retard its growth but not nearly enough to remove risk.

So health departments do have the right to check out what is happening behind the bar. Once everyone is up to speed we can sit back and enjoy our drinks, with or without eggs.

Hats off to Bull E. Vard for directing me to the video.

One response to “Raw Eggs: Are they safe in your cocktails?

  1. It’s interesting to see the debate on raw eggs is still going on, as well as taking the photo or this article I was a mixologist in London in the late 90s an early 2000. There was a strong argument against raw eggs back then and may bars chose to use pasteurised egg white, from a personal perspective I have been drinking cocktails with raw whites and yolks for the past 20 years and can say with confidence it was never the egg that made me feel bad the following day.
    Keep up the good work.

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