"The Original Frothee: All Purpose Creamy Head for Cocktails…"
"Fee Foam: The Crowning Touch for Mixed Drinks…"
Although I'd never used cocktail foamer before, or seen it mentioned in a recipe, over the years, I'd spotted the odd bottle on a supermarket shelf and wondered, Was this a bar essential I'd somehow missed? This week, cocktail shaker in hand, I set out to investigate.There are a number of competing brands of cocktail foamers on the market (Frothee, Fee's, Collins…), so it stands to reason that there must be some kind of demand for the product. Yet, never in my mixological travels had I ever seen anyone actually use the stuff.
So, before I got started, I consulted a pro. I emailed Jonathan Pogash, a cocktail consultant who has worked with major liquor brands such as Hennessy and Bacardi and who has created cocktail programs for The Campbell Apartment and Bookmarks Lounge, among other NYC establishments.
Here's what Jonathan wrote:
I have seen this stuff and stay as far away from it as I possibly can. Ten
foot poles don't even help in this case.
I don't know who uses it anymore. I know it's really old-school. Left over
from the days of the 80s and 90s when people were trying to get foamy
drinks without using egg whites.
If I were you, I'd keep my distance from it. It's a cocktail must NOT have!
Yikes. Things did not look good for cocktail foamer.
Neverthless, I thought I should give the stuff a fair shake.
I bought a 4-ounce bottle of Fee's for $4.85. The ingredients were listed as: "Water, Propylene Glycol, Polysorbate 80, Potassium Sorbate, Less than 1/10 of 1 percent Benzoate of Soda as a preservative, Citric Acid, Pure Lemon Extract." I tasted a drop. Not exactly unpleasant. It had a kind of slippery, soapy mouthfeel, and a faint lemony tang. Maybe it really could blend into a cocktail without affecting its flavor.
For testing purposes, I made myself a kind of "dummy" drink out of cheap vermouth and a couple of dashes of the foamer, shaken vigorously with ice. The results were, well, foamy (see pic above). The label on the bottle said "It ensures attractive drinks by enhancing appearance and reducing spills." Yes, this much was true. Something about the foam did keep the liquid in my very full glass from sloshing out when I tipped it slightly.
Ok, next step: Mix a real cocktail.
I chose a whiskey sour, one of my longstanding favorites, which I sometimes make with egg white and sometimes without. Would I get the same full, meringue-like texture and subtle flavor enhancement with a couple of dashes of foamer as I did when I slipped half an egg white into the mix?
Although the foamer did give the drink a convincing snow-white head, with each sip, I recognized that same slightly slippery, soapy mouthfeel I'd experienced sampling the product undiluted. Flavorless additive it was not: over the bourbon, fresh lemon juice, and simple syrup, I could now detect a subtly synthetic taste.
To me, the difference between real egg white and foamer is a lot like the difference between whipped cream and Cool Whip, or fresh cream and non-dairy creamer: I'll take the real thing or go without.
I'm still curious, though. Any readers out there who use cocktail foamer? Have you found any creative/practical uses for it?
Nora Maynard is a longtime home mixologist and an occasional instructor at NYC’s Astor Center. She is a contributor to The Business of Food: Encyclopedia of the Food and Drink Industries and is the recipient of the American Egg Board Fellowship in culinary writing at the Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow. She previously covered food and drink in film at The Kitchn in her weekly column, The Celluloid Pantry.
Related: Raw Egg Whites in Cocktails (and Ramos Gin Fizzes) Are Back!
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf.
(Images: Nora Maynard)