In the world of cocktails, the kinds of drinks that go by the name of Flip have changed completely over the centuries. In contemporary parlance, Flips are cocktails shaken with a whole egg to give them a creamy texture, often served as a nightcap or dessert drink. The original Flip was a completely different beast: made with ale, spirits, and sugar or molasses, and served piping hot. Eggs featured in some recipes, but not in all of them. This early form was a favorite drink in colonial American taverns. Wayne Curtis, author of “And a Bottle of Rum”, describes Americans’ love of the Flip in this period as a mania.
Neither form of the drink is quite so popular today, but as the weather turns cold, this is the perfect time to get to know the Flip. Fittingly, the two recipes below both include beer, tying the contemporary Flip to its colonial roots.
The first version re-creates those early Flips that warmed American tavern goers. The signature of this era was the method of preparation. The drink wasn’t simply heated on a stove. Instead, bar keepers would keep metal tools, known as loggerheads, in the fire. When it came time to heat the drink, they would dramatically plunge loggerhead into the drink, heating it up rapidly and causing a big frothy head to form, even spilling over the edges of the tankard. This method had the additional effect of caramelizing sugars in the drink, giving it a distinctly bittersweet edge. One modern drinker trying it out described the taste as “like a Civil War battlefield.”
The difficulty of finding a loggerhead has kept this drink out of the repertoires of most bartenders, but a version of the tool is now commercially available and quite affordable. The “beer caramelizer” was designed for ordinary beer, but it’s perfect for making an old school Flip. Simply heat it in a fire or with a torch until it’s glowing red and it’s ready to go. (One must obviously take care when working with such a hot instrument!)
– 3/4 oz Jamaican pot still rum, such as Doctor Bird
– 1 tablespoon demerara sugar
– 6-8 oz malty English-style ale, such as Samuel Smith Winter Welcome, at room temperature.
Combine all ingredients in a metal pitcher. Plunge the hot loggerhead into the drink and stir, heating until the drink is hot and a big head forms on the surface.
For a more contemporary version of the Flip that doesn’t require any special tools, this Black Heart Flip from bartender David Shenaut Raven and Rose in Portland, Oregon is perfect for the season. It’s rich and creamy with dark, complex flavors. Like most modern Flips, it’s served cold but still makes a warming drink with its use of cognac and overproof rum.
Ale Flip / Photo Credit: Jacob Grier
Black Heart Flip
Combine all ingredients except for the beer in a shaker. Shake hard with ice. Strain into an ice-filled tulip glass, then top with the stout. Garnish with nutmeg.