How I came to love raw eggs

The Snowball cocktail was all the rage in the United Kingdom a few decades back. I’ve avoided it since I learned of its existence and its primary ingredient:

Advocaat.

Advocaat is a traditional Dutch liqueur made from raw emulsified egg yolks, sugar, and booze (usually brandy, but sometimes grain-based distillate). It seems like a cross between boozy eggnog and runny, alcoholic custard. Advocaat is typically bottled at between 14 and 20 percent alcohol by volume.

When I first encountered it in London in 2002, I was almost able to get over the thought of shelf-stable egg liqueur. Then I noticed that the label sported a dubious-looking garden gnome and the moniker: “Pure quality. Prepared with new laid eggs only. Shake before using.” I’ve been studiously avoiding it ever since.

Advocaat, which is also the Dutch word for “lawyer,” is the short form of the original name for the drink, Advocatenborrel, or the “lawyer’s drink.” I can’t say what the connection is between raw-egg liqueur and lawyers. Wikipedia quotes an 1882 Dutch dictionary that claims Advocatenborrel was “so named as a good lubricant for the throat, and thus considered especially useful for a lawyer, who must speak in public.”

A folksy, undocumented history of Advocaat suggests that the drink originated in either Indonesia, Brazil or Suriname. The story goes that Dutch colonists inherited a local drink called abacate from earlier Portuguese colonists. It was made from the pulp of avocado mixed with brandy.

Abacate is the Portuguese word for avocado. Back home in the Netherlands, where avocados where unavailable, the Dutch substituted egg yolks. The Dutch word for avocado is advocaatpeer. You be the judge if that solves the mystery of the name.

In any event, when not served up as a Snowball, Advocaat should be served cold, preferably over ice, though room temp and neat is widely accepted in British Jewish settings. While there are plenty of kosher-certified options for Advocaat in Europe, there are far fewer in the United States.

One of the better recent options is the pareve, OU-certified Vermeulen Advocaat (17 percent abv; $20) imported from the Netherlands by Medek (which is Kedem backwards). It is rich, thick, creamy, sweet and custardy, and works as well served over vanilla ice cream as part of desert as it does served over ice or in a Snowball cocktail.

Snowball Cocktail

Into an ice-filled Collins or highball glass, pour 3 to 4 ounces of British Lemonade, 7Up or San Pellegrino Limonata.

Pour in 2 ounces of Advocaat.

A traditional addition is to add a splash of Rose’s Lime Juice Cordial, though ¾ of an ounce of fresh lime juice is preferable. Lightly stir.

The most traditional garnish is an unnaturally bright red maraschino cherry, but a twist of lime zest, or even just a slice of lime, classes it up nicely. Drink before the carbonation dissipates.

This is surprisingly good and refreshing, especially satisfying as a dessert, and somehow appropriate to cold weather. L’Chaim!

Have wine or spirits questions for Joshua E. London? Send him an email, lchaimqs@gmail.com.

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