It may be a classic cocktail ingredient, but many consumers are put off by the idea of egg white in their drinks. And for vegans, people with egg allergies, or folks concerned about consuming raw eggs, cocktails containing egg whites are off limits.
That’s why several mixologists have been incorporating aquafaba—the liquid from cooked beans (namely chickpeas or garbanzo beans)—in cocktails instead of egg white. The plant starches and proteins in the chickpea brine can be whisked or shaken up to create a frothy, foamy texture.
The concept of aquafaba in cocktails started to catch on in 2016, but it’s poised for a takeoff this year. Areina Thomas, Bacardi’s San Francisco portfolio ambassador, named opting for aquafaba as one of the key cocktail trends to watch in 2017.
For instance, Jason Eisner, beverage director for Gracias Madre in West Hollywood and Gratitude of Newport Beach, both owned by the vegan-centric company Love Serve Remember, uses aquafaba in a number of cocktails. These include the Sour T-iesel (tequila blanco, lime, agave, mint, matcha and aquafaba), The Hotline Sling (London Dry gin, sloe berry, lemon and aquafaba-salt foam) and Jumpman (bourbon, mezcal espadin, grenadine, lime, chili apple bitters and activated charcoal foam).
Curio in Columbus, OH, has a few aquafaba cocktails, including Nice Threads with Beefeater dry gin, Kina Aero d’or, Quinquina aperitif, saffron, toasted coriander, honey, lemon, aquafaba (called out on the menu as vegan whites). Honor Amongst Thieves in Phoenix has a Silver Dollar cocktail made with Rittenhouse rye whiskey, sweet potato, ruby port, lemon and aquafaba (described as egg white replacement).
Opting For Aquafaba
Aquafaba got its start as a substitute for egg white in baking. French chef Joël Roessel is often credited with discovering the foaming properties of chickpea liquid in late 2014; vegan chefs were quick to catch on to the concept.
Indiana software engineer Goose Wohlt is said to have coined the term aquafaba—the Latin words for water and bean. He was experimenting with making vegan meringues in 2015, and saw a video online of two French chefs making chocolate mousse using chickpea water instead of egg white.
Kathy Casey, founder of Seattle-based consultancy Kathy Casey Food Studios—Liquid Kitchen, notes that “you can get a nice frothiness” using aquafaba in cocktails. Does it taste like chickpeas, though? “It’s not a super prominent flavor,” Casey says, but she admits that she can taste the aquafaba when she’s used it in cocktails.
But considering that the eggwhite foam can often impart a faintly unpleasant odor—described as sulphurous or wet dog funk, the salinity and slightly savory tinge of aquafaba is not offensive or noticeable in most cocktails. You can also opt to flavor the aquafaba with bitters, as well as rosewater, orange blossom water or vanilla.
Some say making your own aquafaba by cooking dried chickpeas provides the best results, but others say the difference in taste vs. canned bean brine is negligible. To make your own, soak dried chickpeas in water overnight, discard water and boil with fresh water and a pinch of salt for 40 min. and strain, reserving liquid. If liquid seems to thin, cook down a bit longer.
Keep in mind that aquafaba is perishable, Casey says. She doesn’t advise keeping aquafaba more than four days, “and you have to keep it cold.”
The general rule of thumb is 2 tablespoons of aquafaba for 1 egg white, though drink recipes range from 1 tablespoon to 1 oz. of aquafaba. Just as with egg white, most recommend a dry shake for cocktails made with chickpea liquid or a hand-held emulsifier.
Here’s one of Jason Eisner aquafaba cocktails (pictured atop) to illustrate his technique:
2 oz. Xicaru Mezcal Espadin
1 oz. Lime juice
½ oz. Agave syrup
1 oz. Aquafaba
Pink Himalayan salt
Add all ingredients except aquafaba to a cocktail shaker and shake with ice. Fine strain into a large vessel (such as a 64-oz. pitcher) and add aqufaba. Using a hand-held emulsifier, blend ingredients together on “turbo” for 7 to 10 seconds. Transfer liquid back into a cocktail shaker without ice and strain into a coupe glass. Shave lime zest onto the foam, as well as one pinch of pink Himalayan salt. Garnish with Italian fennel flower.