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Foam-tionary

So, you like cocktails with a nice, thick foam layer on top? Who doesn't? Cocktails with foam have an elegant look and feel to them and in many cases they're Instagrammable to the max.

How do you get the best-looking and longest-lasting foam on cocktails? In this article, we will explain the different ingredients you can use behind the bar to get the smoothest, best-looking, and silkiest foam on your cocktails.

Egg whites

Egg whites have long been the go-to ingredient for smooth foams on cocktails. If used properly, egg whites can create a great-looking foam layer on top of your cocktails. Egg whites are usually shaken with the remaining ingredients of the cocktail in two steps: dry shaking (shaking a cocktail without ice) and wet shaking (shaking a cocktail with ice).

Dry shaking a cocktail with egg whites will foam up your cocktail. Proteins in egg whites are in a curled-up shape in their natural state. To get a nice foam layer, you need to "uncurl" these proteins into long strands. This is called denaturizing. Denaturizing can be done by shaking your egg whites with lots and lots of air. These strands also start to catch and surround air bubbles, creating your frothy mix. This process happens way better when there is no ice present in the drink, also called dry shaking. After dry shaking, ice is then added to shake the cocktail, which will cool and dilute the drink.

Egg whites can also be used to create a more stable and flavorful foam using a whipping siphon, also called a cream whipper. All you need is egg whites, sugar syrup, lemon juice and a liquid flavoring. The lemon juice and the syrup, mask and balance the aroma and taste of the egg whites. The flavoring can be anything from juices to liqueurs or spirits of your choice. 

Downsides of using egg whites: Using unpasteurized egg whites can be hazardous! They can pose great health risks to your guests. Eggs can be infected with the salmonella bacteria. It can cause serious stomach aches, nausea, and dehydration. Salmonella infection could possibly be fatal. You can use pasteurized egg whites as a substitute. But in lots of cases, pasteurized egg white will not foam up as good as raw egg whites.  

Aquafaba

Okay, so the thought of having raw egg whites in your drinks scares you or you're a self-proclaimed planet lover. We've got you covered. Move over egg whites. Hello vegan-friendly, gluten-free, organic, sustainable Aquafaba. Aquafaba is the left-over liquid one gets from boiling chickpeas. It adds no smell nor taste to your cocktails. What it does is create a luscious, velvety foam layer that will stay firm longer than foam made with egg whites. 

So, how do you make it? Well, you can get aquafaba two ways. The easy way is to buy a can of chickpeas. Drain out the chickpeas and collect the liquid. You're good to go. 

The second option is to soak dried chickpeas overnight in water. The following day you drain the chickpeas, add (triple the amount) of water and boil the chickpeas until tender. Use your cooked chickpeas to make humus or anything else you fancy. The remaining liquid is your aquafaba.

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Gelatin

Gelatin has also been a popular choice when it comes to making foam layers for cocktails. You can get gelatin sheets, but it also comes as gelatin powder. Take a sheet of gelatin and place it in an ice bath to soften. In the meantime, add the liquid ingredients you would like to make a foam from in a saucepan (e.g.: syrups, juices etc.). Bring to a gentle simmer and add your softened gelatin sheets to the liquid. Stir until your gelatin is completely dissolved in the liquid. Let your liquid cool down a bit before adding it to your cream whipper. Charge the cream whipper with a cream cartridge and shake. Place your charged whipper in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. The cooler temperature will stiffen up your foam and make it a bit more stable.

Soy Lecithin

Soy Lecithin is an ingredient used in molecular gastronomy to make "air", which is a lighter type of foam. To have proper air you want in between 0.4- 0.6% of soy lecithin to the total weight or volume of your liquid. When the two are combined use a hand mixer to aerate your mixture and create cocktail air. This can be scooped up with a spoon and layered on top of your cocktail.

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Best long-lasting foam

So, what methods give you the best foam that will stay as stable as possible? As mentioned previously, when using egg whites or aquafaba in your cocktail to create foam, you need to shake the cocktail first. A commonly known technique is the double shake. Double shaking is basically dry & wet shaking. Dry shaking is shaking all your ingredients together without ice. This will incorporate a lot of air into the drink and emulsify your egg whites or aquafaba. After a couple of seconds of firm shaking, add ice and shake again. Also known as wet shaking.

There is also the reverse dry shake. Which is the exact same process mentioned above, but just the other way around. First wet shake, discard ice & dry shake.

I've tested both methods many times and found that reverse dry shake has a slightly firmer foam with smaller bubbles, where the double shake method gives you larger bubbles. 

A favorite method I like to apply to incorporate air and foam is the rolling technique. Simply apply the reverse dry shake or double shake method and finish off with rolling or throwing the drink without ice. 

Gelatin foam & Soy Lecithin "air" are more stable than foams made with the shaken method, meaning that they stay longer on the cocktail and won't disappear that quickly.

Whatever method you choose, remember that your cocktail foam is part of the garnish and the look & feel of the cocktail and should always be treated with the same care as any other cocktail ingredients.

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Curious which method yields the best foaming results for you? Try them out with these delicious Bols cocktails.

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