If you could have a drink with any person, living or dead, who would you choose?
Here’s my choice: Benjamin Franklin, boozy bro and, of course, the founder of Penn. And over what drink would we converse? A Pennsylvanian, the University’s unofficial cocktail, which is referred to in the Penn fight song, “Drink a highball.” On a historical journey to colonial–era collegiate drinking culture and with Hey Day just around the corner, I decided to try out the recipe: Calvados (French Apple Brandy), Madeira Wine (sweet Portuguese fortified wine), and egg whites (yes, egg whites), all shaken, not stirred.
The ingredients each have a cheeky significance to Penn. The apple brandy allegedly is inspired by Pennsylvania’s history of cider distilling. Though the recipe calls for the French Calvados, I opted instead for the similar cheaper Applejack, an American product that was highly popular in the colonial era. Madeira Wine was apparently a favorite of Franklin’s. The egg white is said to be a reference to the Franklin quote, “An egg today is better than a hen tomorrow.”
I began by combining the Brandy and Madeira Wine with ice in the cocktail shaker, and giving it a few shakes to combine the liquors. I then cracked the egg, slipped in the egg white and shook hard for about thirty seconds. A root beer float–esque foam appeared, and the drink looked in appearance something like eggnog.
Next, I strained the drink into, of course, a highball glass. Straining here is of the utmost importance, for the sheer reason that it traps behind the slimy, viscous gag–inducing strands of egg white and kept them out of my drink.
It was time for a sip. Though the drink smelled of apple cider, it unfortunately tasted like creamy alcoholic nothingness, and left a lingering burn in my throat. Between the foamy consistency and blandly peculiar taste, I took a break from drinking, and left the glass half empty. When I returned some minutes later, the drink was beginning to look like Chinese egg drop soup, as egg had coagulated into little particles. Needless to say, I didn’t finish it.
Benjamin Franklin famously said, “There can’t be good living where there is not good drinking.” But much to my dismay, Franklin’s Pennsylvanian is not good drinking. For the time being, Penn’s other unofficial beverage remains: a shot of Banker’s Club, sir.
1.5 shots Apple Brandy
1 shot Madeira Wine
1 egg white
Combine Brandy, Madeira Wine and ice in a cocktail shaker and shake lightly for five seconds. Add the white of one egg and shake vigorously for thirty seconds, or until a frothy foam appears. Strain over fresh ice into a highball glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.