By now we’re all familiar with vintage drinks — the Sidecar, The Aviation, The Negroni. But what about the flip cocktail? “The what?” you say. Though it dates back to the 1800s and definitely puts the “old” in “old school cocktails,” the flip has recently been experiencing a comeback. From L.A. hotspot Bestia, bartender Karen Grill gives us the skinny on this 19th century libation, complete with a flip recipe that possibly your great, great, great granddad chugged, or sipped politely, back in the day.
What exactly is a flip cocktail?
Grill: A flip is a class of cocktail that originally was made of beer, rum and sugar and was heated with a hot iron, dipped into the drink. Over time, eggs were added to the cocktail, which is usually how a flip is served today.
Any clue to why they called it a “flip”?
To create the texture, the cocktail was repeatedly passed from one vessel (or tin) to the other to ‘flip” it and make it frothy. It was especially necessary once eggs were added to the mix. Jerry Thomas’ “How to Mix Drinks’ was the first publication to add eggs in 1862.
What does the heating of the drink do to the taste (besides make it warm, of course)?
Heating the drink will bring out more intensity in its flavor, but it’s just a matter of preference.
Do you need to heat a flip cocktail with a hot iron like they did centuries ago? Would nuking it in the microwave be wrong?
If someone were to heat my flip with a hot iron I’d be blown away. It would be awesome! Stay away from the microwave, rather, you could use a portable water heater or warm ingredients on a stovetop.
What does adding eggs do to the flavor profile of a flip?
Eggs create a frothier, creamier texture and are found in most modern flip cocktails.
Is a flip cocktail only appropriate for the fall and winter season? Would it work well in the summer?
Flips are typically a cold weather cocktail, but this is Los Angeles. We don’t have too long of a flip season! My favorite summery flip is one from Jim Meehan at PDT in New York that is made with cognac, apricot liqueur, egg and nutmeg. It has a really great balance of both summer and fall flavors.
Are you seeing flip cocktails on bar menus? Do most bartenders even know how to make one?
I’ve seen a few pop up on cocktail menus recently, including one at my bar, Bestia. It’s called O.D.B and it’s a flip with an Italian influence. We used G.D. Vajra Barolo Chinato, Buffalo Trace Bourbon, heavy cream, egg yolk simple syrup and nutmeg, served cold.
How important is the beer that you choose?
It’s just as important as any ingredient you choose while creating a cocktail. For fall/winter drinks, I like to choose something nutty and dark like a good brown ale or porter, or both!
Can a flip cocktail be served cold and still be called a flip cocktail?
Absolutely, there were cold flip recipes printed in the 1800s!
“North Sea Flip”
This flip was inspired by British playwright, William Congreve’s play, ‘Love for Love.” His main character, Valentine sums up his life as a sailor with the quote, “Thus we live at sea; eat biscuit, and drink flip.”
1.5 oz Alesmith Nut Brown Ale
2oz Appleton 12yr Jamaican Rum
.5oz spiced honey syrup*
2 dashes Jerry Thomas Decanter bitters
1 egg yolk
Combine all ingredients except beer into a cocktail shaker and whip without ice to emulsify, then shake with ice. Add beer to tin and strain into a footed glass. Garnish with star anise and grated nutmeg.
*Spiced honey syrup:
4 sticks of cinnamon
3 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 star anise
1 scored vanilla pod
300g evaporated cane sugar
Combine all ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer lightly for 10-15 minutes. Strain out all solids and transfer liquid into sealable container to cool.