Flip (cocktail)

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Brandy flip in stemmed cocktail glass.png.jpg
A flip made from brandy, an egg, and simple syrup is shown served in a stemmed cocktail glass and garnished with grated nutmeg.
TypeCocktail family
Common alcohol(s)
Commonly used ingredientsWhole, raw egg
NotesSee the article for specifics.

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 ("Thus we live at sea; eat biscuit, and drink flip"). The iron caused the drink to froth, and this frothing (or "flipping") engendered the name. Over time, eggs were added and the proportion of sugar increased, the beer was eliminated, and the drink ceased to be served hot.[citation needed]

The first bar guide to feature a flip was Jerry Thomas's 1862 How to Mix Drinks; or, The Bon-Vivant's Companion. In this work, 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."[1]

With time, 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 U.S. bar guides. In recent decades, bar guides have begun to indicate the presence of cream in a flip as optional.


A loggerhead being heated. Once red-hot, it would be plunged into the drink.

The hot beverage known as flip, from which the modern cocktail evolved, has been around since the late 1600s originating first from colonial America. It was a very popular drink in English and American taverns until the 19th century.[2][3] There were many variations as each tavern would have its own recipe. It was principally a mulled ale, with the addition of rum or brandy, sugar, spices (almost always grated nutmeg), and fresh eggs.[3][4] Some notable variations existed such as the Sailor's Flip which had no ale, or the Egg-Hot which had no spirits.[2]

The drink was warmed (and thus mulled) by first having its beer component placed in a vessel by a fire. Once near boiling, the hot ale was transferred to a jug and combined with the other ingredients. Another jug was used to pour the liquid back and forth (hence the name flip) until creamy smooth.[2][4] Finally, the drink was served in a cup or tankard and finished using a dedicated iron fireplace poker called a flipdog, hottle, or toddy rod. The rod would be heated in or by the fire until red-hot and then plunged into the cup of flip. The hot iron further mulled and frothed the drink, imparting a slightly bitter, burned taste.[3]

A loggerhead was originally used as the hot-rod before the purpose-built flipdog or toddy rod evolved from it. It was a narrow piece of iron about three feet long with a slightly bulbous head about the size of a small onion, used for heating tar or pitch to make it pliable.[3]

Flip is mentioned in Charles Dickens' 1864 book Our Mutual Friend when describing the Six Jolly Fellowship Porters tavern.[2]

A recipe of the old drink, as written in The Cook's Oracle (1822):[4]

To make a quart of Flip:— Put the Ale on the fire to warm, — and beat up three or four Eggs with four ounces of moist Sugar, a teaspoonful of grated Nutmeg or Ginger, and a quartern of good old Rum or Brandy. When the Ale is near to boil, put it into one pitcher, and the Rum and Eggs, &c. into another;— turn it from one pitcher to another till it is as smooth as Cream.

Flip recipes from Jerry Thomas (1887)[edit]

The following flip recipes appear in Jerry Thomas 1887.

  • Cold Brandy Flip – brandy, water, egg, sugar, grated nutmeg
  • Cold Rum Flip – substitute Jamaica rum
  • Cold Gin Flip – substitute Holland gin
  • Cold Whiskey Flip – substitute Bourbon or rye whiskey
  • Port Wine Flip – substitute port wine
  • Sherry Wine Flip – substitute sherry
  • Hot Brandy Flip – brandy, sugar, egg yolk, hot water, grated nutmeg
  • Hot Rum Flip – substitute Jamaica rum
  • Hot Whiskey Flip – substitute whiskey
  • Hot Gin Flip – substitute Holland gin
  • Hot English Rum Flip – ale, aged rum, raw eggs, sugar, grated nutmeg or ginger
  • Hot English Ale Flip – same as Rum Flip, without rum and less egg white
  • Sleeper – aged rum, sugar, egg, water, cloves, coriander, lemon


  1. ^ Jerry Thomas, How to Mix Drinks (New York: Dick and Fitzgerald, 1862), 60.
  2. ^ a b c d Bickerdyke, John (1889). The Curiosities of Ale & Beer: An Entertaining History: Illustrated with over Fifty Quaint Cuts. London: SWAN SONNENSCHEIN & Co. pp. 388, 389.
  3. ^ a b c d Curtis, Wayne (2007). And a bottle of rum: A history of the new world in ten cocktails. Broadway Books. p. 74. ISBN 0307338622.
  4. ^ a b c Kitchiner, William (1822). The Cook's Oracle; containing receipts for plain cookery on the most economical plan for private families; also the art of composing the most simple, and most highly finished broths, gravies, soups, sauces, store sauces, and flavouring essences: The Quality of each Article is accurately stated by weight and measure; The whole being the result of actual experiments instituted in the kitchen of a physician. London. pp. 384, 385.