Over 20 recipes in Historic Cocktails call for an egg, eggs, egg white or egg yolk. Some of these recipes contain alcohol and some do not, but rather are health tonics. So why were cocktails with eggs so popular pre-Prohibition?
Eggs have long been considered a perfect food but sadly, eggs have been maligned in our modern generations. This is wholly undeserved, eggs are an awesome food for so many reasons. Did you know that eggs contain 100% of the body’s needed fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K as well as over 90% of the calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, thiamin, folate, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 we need? One 75 calorie egg contains 5 g of healthy fat (including lots of omega-3 fatty acids), 6 g of protein and 9 essential amino acids. They are also rich in carotenoids, selenium, riboflavin, vitamins B2 and B5 as well as other trace nutrients. For example, one egg contains 113 mg of Choline – a very important nutrient for the brain which is deficient in upwards of 90% of American diets.
Eggs contain Leucine and L-arginine, amino acids critical to the body’s production of protein and growth hormones as well as blood sugar regulation. Eggs are particularly rich in the two antioxidants Lutein and Zeaxanthine which help protect the eye against diseases like Macular Degeneration and Cataracts. One study showed that eating an average of 1.3 egg yolks per day for 4.5 weeks increased blood levels of Lutein by 28-50% and Zeaxanthine by 114-142%.
The approximately 200mg of cholesterol in one egg raises HDL (good cholesterol) and changes LDL cholesterol from being small and dense to large and benign. Cholesterol is the precursor to all sex hormones and is required by every cell in your body. Particularly, it helps your body make testosterone, increasing energy and calorie-burning muscle. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and Arachidonic acid (AA) are two essential fatty acids found in eggs and they help to keep a good ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fats in your diet. Importantly, most vitamins require accompanying fat in the meal to be effectively absorbed and metabolized.
For yet another benefit – Eating eggs helps you feel full because it satisfies so many of your body’s nutritional needs. You will feel less compulsion to eat useless calories. Eggs don’t have enough carbohydrate to raise blood sugar (glucose) levels – so no insulin spike. In a 2008 study of overweight men and women, those who ate 2 eggs for breakfast reduce their BMI 61% compared to a bagel eating group (calories were normalized across the groups). The egg eaters also had 65% greater weight loss and 16% greater reduction in body fat.
In pre-Prohibtion days almost all eggs were from backyard, free range hens. Did you know that fresh eggs from free range chickens are even better nutritionally than factory eggs? The magazine Mother Earth News compared nutrient data from the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) for commercial eggs to eggs from hens raised on pasture, they found that pasture eggs contain 33% less cholesterol and 25% less saturated fat, yet 2x more Omega-3 fatty acids. Free range eggs also had 67% more vitamin A, 3x more vitamin E, 4-6x more vitamin D and 7x more beta carotene.
So with all of these wonderful benefits you can see why adding an egg to a pre-Prohibition cocktail would have boost its popularity. This is especially true in a time before easily obtainable and cheap nutritional supplements were available.
But even today we are finding that the real thing is far more beneficial that a processed supplement, so go ahead and proudly enjoy that egg laden cocktail without guilt.