It’s time for MxMo again, and this month’s event is hosted by Josh Cole at Cocktail Assembly. In explaining the theme, Josh says that while flips are a necessary part of the arsenal at this time of year, their appeal isn’t limited to the colder months:

The flip is one of those cocktails that so successfully defies the seasons. When it’s cold and the icy chill is tearing its way through to our bones, the heated flip opens it’s arms and embraces us like a warm blanket. When it’s hot, the cool flip lowers the heat and can bring back that spring day memory of a creamy shake enjoyed on a front porch. There’s never a bad time or temperature to enjoy the frothy glory that is the flip.

As a flip is not a drink that is seen often around here, lets look at what a flip is. A flip is a class of mixed drinks. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term was first used in 1695 to describe a mixture of beer, rum, and sugar, heated with a red-hot iron poker. The poker caused the drink to froth up, and it is from this frothing or “flipping” that the name was born. In the New England Almanac for 1704 we read under December:-

“The days are short, the weather’s cold,
By tavern fires tales are told.
Some ask for dram when first come in,
Others with flip and bounce begin.”

Over time, eggs were included, the sugar increased, the beer was left out, and the drink was more often served cold than not.
The first published bartenders guide, How to Mix Drinks; or The Bon-Vivant’s Companion (Jerry Thomas, 1862), is also the first guide to feature a flip. In his book Thomas includes 13 flips; 6 cold, and 7 hot, however by this time very few flips still included the ale. As to the preparation of said drink, Thomas declares that, “The essential in flips of all sorts is to produce the smoothness by repeated pouring back and forward between two vessels and beating up the eggs well in the first instance the sweetening and spices according to taste.”

As time went on, the distinction between egg nog (a spirit, egg, cream, sugar, and spice) and a flip (a spirit, egg, sugar, spice, but no cream) was gradually codified in America’s bar guides. In recent decades, bar guides have begun to indicate the presence of cream in a flip as optional.

The following flip recipes appear in Jerry Thomas 1887 Bartenders Guide.
Hot English Rum Flip.
(One quart.)
Take 1 quart of ale.
1 gill of old rum.
4 raw fresh eggs.
4 ounces of moist sugar.
1 tea-spoonful of grated nutmeg (or ginger).

Heat the ale in a saucepan ; beat up the eggs and sugar, add the nutmeg and rum, and put it all in a pitcher. When the ale is near to a boil, put it in another pitcher, pour it very gradually in the pitcher containing the eggs, etc , stirring all the while very briskly to prevent the eggs from curdling, then pour the contents of the two pitchers from one to the other until the mixture is as smooth as cream.

Hot English Ale Flip.
(One quart.)
This is prepared in the same manner as Rum Flip,
omitting the rum, and the whites of two of the eggs.

Take 1 gill of old rum.
1 ounce of sugar.
2 fresh raw eggs.
½ pint of water.
6 cloves.
6 coriander seeds.
1 lemon.

Boil the cloves and coriander, with a bit of cinnamon in the water ; mix together the rum, sugar, the yolks of the eggs and the juice of half the lemon; whisk them all together, and strain into a tumbler.

Cold Rum Flip.
(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.

Cold Brandy Flip — substitute Cognac Brandy
Cold Rum Flip — substitute Jamaica rum
Cold Gin Flip — substitute Holland gin
Port Wine Flip — substitute port wine
Sherry Wine Flip — substitute sherry

Hot Brandy Flip.
(Use large bar-glass, heated.)
Take 1 tea-spoonful of sugar.
1 wine-glass of brandy.
Yolk of one egg.
Dissolve the sugar in a little hot water, add the brandy and egg, shake up thoroughly, pour into a medium bar-glass, and fill it one-half full of boiling water. Grate a little nutmeg on top, and serve

Hot Rum Flip — substitute Jamaica rum or
Hot Whiskey Flip — substitute whiskey
Hot Gin Flip — substitute Holland gin

As you can see, by Jerry Thomas’s time, the large and magnificent flip had for the most part been scaled down to a much smaller size. Gone was the ale, seldom to return, replaced instead by a quick brace of spirits, sugar, and egg. Sounds like my kind of drink. The modern flip is a drink that lends itself well to all kinds of variations and experiments. Pick a base spirit, a sweetener of some kind, and an egg. I myself will tend to stick to rum as a base for my flip, as this was probably the original spirit that flips were made with.

Dennis’s Rum Flip
2 oz Zacapa Rum
3/4 oz Allspice Dram
3 dashes Angostura Bitters
1 egg
Shake well with ice, strain into a glass and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.