How Well Do You Actually Know the Flip?

This more than 300-year-old category of drinks is still alive and well, thanks to the enduring deliciousness of the classics, and their modern brethren. Here, get to know the flip in six recipes—three old, and three new.

classic flip cocktails sherry flip brandy flip

While the Sherry Flip might be the most iconic in the canon of “flip” drinks—today defined as a combination of spirit or fortified wine, sugar and a whole egg, shaken with ice—to understand the flip in the round, so to speak, you gotta take it way back.

Considered a sailor’s drink in England, flips were known to be a hot mixture of ale, rum, molasses and egg for nearly two centuries after their mention first appeared in writing in the late 1600s. Before long, colonists had brought the drink, which had been touted as a health tonic, across the Atlantic, where it earned fame for its unique method of preparation—one that was wholly unique to the New World. 

Whereas in England the ingredients were typically poured back and forth between two pitchers to combine and then heated on the stove, in colonial taverns they were stirred with an iron rod that had been heated in the fireplace ashes, which warmed and frothed the mixture of beer, rum, sugar and egg. The rod, which was known as a flip-dog or a loggerhead, contributed a characteristic burnt, bitter quality that helped to define the colonial take on the drink.

This hot, beer-infused flip recipe reigned until the late 19th century.

The first instance of the beer-less, shaken drink we know today appears in 1874’s The American Bar-Tender; or the Art and Mystery of Mixing Drinks. Calling for a whole egg, beaten with sugar and shaken with a spirit (brandy or gin) or with sherry, the drink was meant to be poured into a small glass and garnished with nutmeg. Not long after, Jerry Thomas released the 1887 edition of How to Mix Drinks, which included recipes for brandy, rum, gin and whiskey flips made in equal proportions—sugar, egg, spirit lengthened with water—as well as a Port Flip and, finally, the Sherry Flip.

So how is this most old-fashioned of drinks faring today, and how are bartenders expanding on the original egg-based template to fit the 21st-century palate? From the OG Hot Ale Flip to the Sherry Flip, here is a look at all three classics and their modern companions.

Classic: Hot Ale Flip 
Modern: Elephant Flip

Served cold, the richly textured Elephant Flip, created by longtime bartender Christina Rando of Philadelphia’s Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co., builds on a base of Ramazzotti, Jamaican rum and bourbon—plus flavors of both chocolate and pomegranate—and tops it all with bitter IPA for a very 21st-century play on the original.

Classic: Brandy Flip
Modern: U Drop Inn Flip

Swapping French brandy for a mixture of rich Brandy de Jerez coupled with malty genever, alongside chocolate two ways, Demario Wallace’s U Drop Inn Flip is a more robust take on the original spirit-based flip.

Classic: Sherry Flip
Modern: French Toast Flip

Whereas the original Sherry Flip takes its character from nutty, rich oloroso sherry (at least in our version), so, too, does Erick Castro’s breakfast-ready French Toast Flip, which is also fortified with Scotch, applejack brandy and maple and allspice syrups.

For more variations on the flip and other drink families, visit our Recipes page.