EGGNOG OR FLIP?
As with many of our classic cocktails, historians don’t agree on the lineage of these two drinks. Eggnog most likely originated from a medieval drink called “posset,” something wealthy British in the 13th century were known to enjoy with expensive items like sherry, eggs, and figs. The Flip, on the other hand, was a maritime beverage first mentioned in 1695 in a line from a Restoration Comedy called “Love for Love” by William Congreve: “Thus we live at sea; eat biscuit, and drink flip.”
Though centuries apart, these two drinks have much in common. Both recipes notably call for egg yolks, and they are traditionally used when toasting to prosperity and good health. They’re also drinks that have become synonymous with winter and, more specifically, the holidays.
Only recently has the distinction between Eggnog (made with egg, sugar, spice, and cream) and a Flip (made with egg, sugar, spice, but NO CREAM) been codified in America’s bar guides, and we’re happy to help set the record straight here in the Gotham Journal.
WHY DOES EGGNOG GET SUCH A BAD RAP?
Eggnog aficionados are quick to suggest that those who don’t like the drink have simply never tasted the real thing. Which may be the simplest and best answer. In the United States, supermarket versions are often riddled with sugar, perhaps to make up for the fact that the FDA allows drinks to be labeled “eggnog” even with as little as 1% egg yolk. “At that level,” cocktail purists scoff, “you might as well just call it milk-nog.”
Eggnog, though, is not the focus of this week’s entry. Instead, we introduce you to a category of cocktail that has all but disappeared from modern bars: The Flip.
WHAT IS A FLIP ANYWAY?
A Flip is an obscure type of cocktail — originally made with beer, rum, and sugar — which was considered an English sailor’s drink until American colonists put their own spin on it. In England the ingredients were typically poured back and forth between two vessels, but in colonial pubs and taverns, the drink was heated and stirred with an iron rod. That red-hot poker, known as a flip-dog, contributed a unique bitter quality that would come to define (and name) the American take on the drink.
A couple centuries later and the Flip has continued to evolve into a more sophisticated cocktail. No longer heated, it’s perhaps best known for its most ostentatious ingredient: a whole egg. Gotham Bar Director, Jason Hedges explains, “Its rich, frothy texture and spice notes are redolent with holiday cheer. In so many ways it speaks directly to the winter season.”
THE EVOLUTION OF A DRINK
The first bar guide to feature a Flip (and to add eggs to the list of ingredients) was in 1862 when “Cocktail Professor” Jerry Thomas published How to Mix Drinks; or, The Bon-Vivant’s Companion. In this masterwork Thomas explained a bit about the drink’s evolution, omitting the beer in most of the 17 flip recipes found in the book, and presenting a much more modern take on the cocktail.
Flips can be made with a variety of liquors, but work best with darker spirits like dark rum, whiskey, brandy, or (as we’ve featured in the recipe below) cognac. For added layers of flavor and complexity, add a drop or two of vanilla or any number of spice combinations. Oh, and by the way… if you add cream to the recipe you now have an eggnog!
Wow your guests this holiday season by introducing them to something new… like The Flip.
PORT SIDE FLIP
1.5 oz Remy Martin 1738
1 oz Ruby Port
.75 oz Five Spice Syrup (cinnamon, clove, anise, all spice, ginger)
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
1 whole egg
Add all ingredients to a shaking tin.
Dry shake (no ice) to emulsify the egg, then add ice to the tin and shake again.
Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with Angostura bitters, star anise, and grated nutmeg.