Friday, January 14, 2011

The Flip

Mixology Monday January 17, 2011
This is my first MxMo so pardon the lengthy post, if you poke around my site you'll find several more long posts on drinks and their histories.

My original recipe, the "Mountain Flip", which is made with Stranahan's, Averna and Chartreuse yellow, is at the very bottom if you want to skip ahead.

Earlier this month I wrote about eggnog or "Egg Nogg" as it was sometimes written. Like eggnog, the "Flip" is more of a class of drinks, with many variations rather than being a singular recipe. The term "Flip" was first used in 1695, to describe a mixture of beer, rum and sugar, which was heated with a red-hot iron.

Both drinks are defined as being made from spirits, eggs, sugar and spice - the only difference being that eggnog adds milk or cream.

When researching the flip I came across an earlier version of the chart presented by "Dr. Rush" in 1813, which I had used in the eggnog post to illustrate it's status as a drink of ill repute.

The chart below was first published by Dr. John Coakley Lettsom in 1789, for the benefit of the "Philanthropic Society", and was seemingly the inspiration for Dr. Rush's chart.

I then found in "Gentleman's Magazine", reference that Lettsom's list here was "derived from (hints from) his friend, Dr. Rush" the men appear to have been acquainted and may have worked on this together.
Here's the earlier list published by Lettsom.


1792 - An earlier American recipe for the Flip, from a book titled "The American Geography" by Jedidiah Morse. While describing the amount of rum produced in New England the previous year, the Flip recipe was added as a footnote.

No less than 4783 hogsheads of New England rum were distilled and exported from this state last year, besides the home consumption, which was not inconsiderable *

* New England rum is distilled from molasses imported from the West Indies. It may be a question worthy of consideration, whether the molasses, which is annually distilled in New England, by being mixed with water, would not afford a drink cheaper, more palatable, and more nourishing, than that which is made from the rum distilled from it, and treble in quantity? If so, all the labour and expense of distillation might be spared, and converted to more useful, and perhaps to more lucrative manufacture or agricultural purposes. New England rum is by no means a wholesome liquor. Dr. Douglass has asserted, "That it has killed more Indians than their wars and sickness. It does not spare white people, especially when made into flip, which is rum mixed with small beer and Muscovado sugar." 

Further historical recipes included (among may others, this is by no means a complete list):

1801 - "American herbal; or, Materia medica" by Samuel Stearns:

This kind of liquor is made by putting a spoonful of brown sugar into about five or six jills (sic/gills) of malt beer, which is then warmed by putting a hot iron into it, called a logger-head ; afterwards, half a pint of rum or brandy is added, and the mixture well stirred with a spoon. Then a little nutmeg is grated on the top, which makes the flip fit for (y)ule.

This quantity is enough for four men....Flip is also made with spruce beer, instead of malt, and then it is called callabogus.

1810 - "Critical pronouncing dictionary" by John Walker, the Flip is defined simply as a "drink made of beer and rum".

1822 - "The Cook's Oracle" by William Kitchiner, we are given this recipe for the flip, which would be reprinted, nearly word-for-word, in several publications over the next 20-30 years:

"Keep grated Ginger and Nutmeg with a little fine dried Lemon Peel rubbed together in a mortar. To make a quart of Flip: - Put the Ale on the fire to warm, - and beat up three or four Eggs with four ounces of moist Sugar, a teaspoonful of grated Nutmeg or Ginger, and a quartern of good old Rum, or Brandy. When the Ale is near to boil, put it into one pitcher, and the Rum and Eggs, &c. into another ; turn it from one pitcher to another till it is as smooth as Cream.

This recipe remains the standard until the 1850's when new variations start to appear in print. 

In 1855, Peterson's magazine published this recipe:

Egg Flip.—Beat up in a three-pint jug four newlaid eggs, omitting two of the whites; add six large lumps of sugar and rub these well into eggs; pour in boiling water about half a pint at a time; and when the jug is nearly full, add two tumblers of brandy and one of rum. 

1858 - Lewis Feuchtwanger in his book "Fermented Liquors" gives another hot Flip recipe:

Flip.—To 1/3 of a gallon of white beer (Berlin), add 1/4 of a pound of sugar, 1 drachm of fine cinnamon, a few cloves, a little ginger, 1 pint of Jamaica rum, and 4 eggs, the yellow of which is muddled. The beer, spices, yellow of the eggs, and rum are heated and well stirred together; they are then added to the first and drank hot.

1862 - Jerry Thomas's original 1862 collection of flip recipes, though extensive, did not include any "cold flip" recipes. Organized by Jerry into a chapter entitled "Flip, Negus and Shrub" he included recipes for "Rum Flip" (2 versions), Ale Flip, Egg Flip (2 versions), and a Brandy Flip.

In the 1882 reprint there appeared the addition of Cold flip recipes for Brandy, Rum, Gin, Whiskey and Port Wine.

I've included his hot and cold recipes for the "Rum Flip":


—Which Dibdin has immortalized as the favorite beverage of sailors (although we believe they seldom indulge in it) —is made by adding a gill of rum to the beer, or substituting rum and water, when malt liquor cannot be procured. The essential in "flips" of all sorts is, to produce the smoothness by repeated pouring back and for ward between two vessels, and beating up the eggs well in the first instance; the sweetening and spices according to taste.

146. Rum Flip.
(Another method.)
Keep grated ginger and nutmeg with a little fine dried lemon peel, rubbed together in a mortar.
To make a quart of flip:—Put the ale on the fire to warm, and beat up three or four eggs with four ounces of moist sugar, a teaspoonful of grated nutmeg or ginger, and a gill of good old rum or brandy. When the ale is near to boil, put it into one pitcher, and the rum and eggs, &c., into another; turn it from one pitcher to another till it is as smooth as cream.

Cold Rum Flip. (From 1882 re-release)

(Use large bar-glass.)
Take 1 teaspoonful of powdered sugar, dissolved in
a little water.
1 wine-glass of Jamaica rum.
1 fresh egg.
2 or 3 lumps of ice.

Shake up thoroughly, strain in a medium glass, and
grate a little nutmeg on top.

1882 also saw the first release of Harry Johnson's "New and Improved (Illustrated) Bartender's Manual" which included a Brandy Flip, Claret Flip, Port Wine Flip and Sherry Flip. I guess he had a thing for wine-based flips. His Brandy Flip was described thus:

Brandy Flip
(Use a large bar glass.)
1 fresh egg;
3/4 tablespoonful of sugar;
3/4 glass of shaved ice
1 wine glass full of brandy(Martell);

Shake the above ingredients well in a shaker, strain into a flip or other fancy bar glass, and grate a little nutmeg on top, and serve.

1884 - "Modern Bartender's Guide" by B.O. Byron lists all chilled flip recipes including the Brandy, Gin, Glasgow, Port Wine, Sherry and Whiskey flips.

1895 - George Kappeler's  "Modern American Drinks" does away with the hot flip altogether and lists a dozen flip recipes, all iced:

Ale Flip.

Beat up one egg with half a tablespoonful fine sugar, then fill the glass with ale; mix well with the egg and sugar. Grate nutmeg on top and serve.

Brandy Flip.

A mixing-glass half-full fine ice, one tablespoonful fine sugar, one fresh egg, one jigger brandy; shake well, strain into thin glass. Grate nutmeg on top.

Egg Flip.

One fresh egg, one tablespoonful fine sugar, one jigger sherry in a mixing-glass half-full fine ice; shake well, strain into thin glass, grate nutmeg on top.

Gin Flip.

Prepare in the same manner as Egg Flip, substituting Tom gin for sherry.

Glasgow Flip.

Beat up a fresh egg with one tablespoonful fine sugar and the juice of one lemon. Put this preparation in a long thin glass, add a lump of ice, fill up with a cold bottle of imported ginger ale; mix well. Serve.

Golden Flip.

One pony maraschino, one pony yellow chartreuse, half a tablespoonful fine sugar, one egg; shake well in a mixing-glass half-full fine ice, strain into a fancy bar-glass, grate a little nutmeg on top.

Jamaica Rum Flip.

Fill a mixing-glass half-full fine ice, add half a tablespoonful fine sugar, one egg, one jigger Jamaica rum; shake well, strain into a fancy barglass. Serve with a little grated nutmeg on top.

Port Wine Flip.

Prepare in the same manner as Jamaica Rum Flip, substituting port wine for rum.

Rum Flip.

Prepare same as Sherry Flip, using the kind of rum desired by the customer in place of sherry.

Sherry Flip.

Break a fresh egg into a mixing-glass; add one tablespoonful fine sugar, fill the glass half-full of fine ice, add one and a half jigger of sherry; shake well, strain into a fancy bar-glass. Serve with a little grated nutmeg on top.

Whiskey Flip.

Prepare in the same manner as Sherry Flip, substituting whiskey for sherry.

Yankee Flip.

Prepare in the same manner as Sherry Flip, using one jigger apple brandy in place of sherry.

(I must say, a very tasty sounding list..)

1889 - Charles Henry Cook in "Curiosities of ale and beer", describes a hot flip recipe, which by then had become something of a relic.

Flip, once a popular drink, and not altogether without its patrons in the present day, is made in a variety of ways. The following receipt is a good one. Place in a saucepan one quart of strong ale together with lumps of sugar which have been well rubbed over the rind of a lemon, and a small piece of cinnamon. Take the mixture off the fire when boiling and add one glass of cold ale. Have ready in a jug the yolks of six or eight eggs well beaten up with powdered sugar and grated nutmeg. Pour the hot ale from the saucepan on to the eggs, stirring them while so doing. Have another jug at hand and pour the mixture as swiftly as possible from one vessel to the other until a white froth appears, when the flip is ready. One or two wine glasses of gin or rum are often added. This beverage made without spirits is sometimes called Egg-hot, and Sailor's Flipcontains no ale. A quart of Flip is styled in the Cook's Oracle a "Yard of Flannel."

(Side note: The term "Yard of Flannel" has been attributed to the appearance of the liquid when "tossed back and forth from one pitcher to another at arm's length.")

1891 - in William Schmidt's "The Flowing Bowl", the flip is given as a hot recipe, "punch style" of course:

One and a half quarts of beer are heated to boiling, with a stick of cinnamon, a small piece of ginger, two or three cloves, and some lemon-peel; meanwhile mix the yolks of four eggs with a large wineglassful of rum or arrack, two or three tablespoonfuls of pulverized sugar, and a small spoonful of corn-starch; add this, while continually stirring, to the beer; pour it a few times from one vessel into another, strain through a sieve, and serve in cups.

So we reach the twentieth century and find that the flip has become an old drink, on it's way out of style, but still "not altogether without its patrons". No longer popularly prescribed to ward off a cold or other sickness, it was now more commonly served cold, and taken whenever the mood struck.

The flip then, was really a drink for the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. By the 1900's it had transformed from a way to ward off the winter cold into a full fledged cocktail, and then by the mid-to-late twentieth century, it had fallen back into obscurity.

1917 - In the last book written by a working bartender in NYC, Hugo R. Ensslin gives some of the best (and strangest..whiskey-peppermint?) advice on the building of a cold flip:

1936 - Frank Meier, of the "Ritz" bar in Paris included this page on Flips in his book "The Artistry of Mixing Drinks".

1948 - David A. Embury, in "The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks" gives these words on the flip:

FLIPS A Flip is any wine or liquor shaken up with sugar and a whole egg. The usual proportions are 1 teaspoonful sugar or sugar syrup, 1 whole egg, and 2 ounces liquor to each drink. Shake with cracked or finely crushed ice and strain into a small Sour or Delmonico glass (about 3 to 4 ounces). Decorate with a dash of nutmeg.

Which sums up the cold flip nicely. 

After all of this, I had to play around with the recipes. For this one though, I stuck with the cold flips. I've heard that Cocktail Kingdom will be producing Blue Blazer mugs before too when those are in I'll play with hot flip recipes. Until then, here are a few cold flip variations that I enjoyed.

Rum Flip

1 ounce (30 ml) Angostura 1919 Rum
1 ounce (30 ml) Smith & Cross Rum
1 fresh laid egg
1 teaspoon powdered sugar
1/4 (1.25 ml) teaspoon water
2 dashes Angostura bitters

(Alternatively you can shake ingredients without ice, then with - this is the old "pre-double shake" style of building an egg drink)

1) Combine bitters, water and powdered sugar at bottom of a shaker and stir until sugar has dissolved.

2) Add one whole (fresh as possible) egg and muddle or stir the yolk to break it up.

3) Fill tumbler 3/4 full with finely cracked or crushed ice.

4) Add the two ounces of rum. 

5) Shake hard for 60-90 seconds, strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with fresh ground nutmeg.

The classic rum flip. The lack of milk or cream provides more room for the spice flavors from the nutmeg and bitters to come through. When combined with the egg's thick silky texture, and the deep flavors of the dark rums, I must say I'm "flipping" out over how good this is. It really is a well balanced drink, providing room for all the flavors to stand both together and alone, which is the hallmark of a great drink recipe.

Using the same method of construction, here are a few more variations:

Yankee Flip

2 ounces (60 ml) Laird's apple brandy.
1 fresh laid egg
1 teaspoon powdered sugar
1/4 (1.25 ml) teaspoon water
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Fresh grated nutmeg on top.

I went with Laird's 7 1/2 year apple brandy here. It's apple flavors came through nicely.

Mountain Flip (the Lab)

1 ounce (30 ml) Stranahan's "Straight Rocky Mountain Whiskey"
1/2 ounce (15 ml) Averna Amaro
1/2 ounce (15 ml) Chartreuse Yellow
1 fresh laid egg
1 teaspoon powdered sugar
1/4 (1.25 ml) teaspoon water
1 dash Scrappy's Orange bitters
1 dash Elixir Vegetal
Fresh Grated Nutmeg on top.


  1. A friend is bringing some fresh laid eggs tomorrow. Nice timing. Will give one of these a try. you have to keep Amaro in the fridge? Gonna get in trouble with the wife if I have too many bottles in the fridge.

  2. Amaro does not need to be kept in the fridge. It's usually around 30% alcohol by volume, has a high amount of sugar and has a spirit base rather than a wine base like vermouth - which you do want to keep refrigerated to prolong their useful life.

  3. A note on the technique - I'm no professional bartender, but what I've always seen, read, and done is to combine all ingredients except the ice in your shaker tin, and "dry shake" to emulsify the egg. Then you add your ice and shake like crazy. Also, for shaking drinks, especially thick drinks like this, you need whole cubes of ice - you'll get better consistency this way. Lastly, always measure and pour your spirits first and then add the ice - it's hard to see if you need to make any adjustments if your add your ice first. Also, it cuts down on the dilution (you'll get the right amount of dilution from ice melt if you shake long enough).