Friday Happy Hour: Flipping Out

It’s less than a week until Thanksgiving, people, which means it’s time to start gearing up for holiday parties. Are you guys flipping out? Because I am planning to flip out. Hosting a holiday party for friends and family with quality cocktails on the menu can be a tough feat to pull off. I certainly learned my lesson last year when I volunteered to make a proper boozy egg nog with whipped eggs whites and all. Let me tell you… never again. Even with my trusty all-in-one immersion blender/egg white frother/home defense weapon, it was impossible to keep a mixture of cream, eggs, sugar, and booze warm and frothy all night. If only I had known about flips back then. The flavor and texture is not exactly like egg nog, but it’s close enough that flips are a worthy shortcut. That said, not all flips are created equal.

A tale of two flips: there are two schools of thought concerning flips. One way is the old school mix of eggs, spirit, sweetener, and (very optional) citrus and soda. Which is more akin to egg nog, especially without the citrus and soda. Then there’s the stuff that sailors used to drink, a mix of spirits, sweetener and beer. That’s the old, old school method, so old that it ranks up there with grog, rock and rye (low and slow, baby!), and colonial-era punches in its historical street cred. And there’s the question of serving temperature, hot or cold? Egg flips are traditionally served cold but can be served warm–though I can’t say that I recommend it, unless you don’t mind the occasional scrambled egg in your cocktail–and beer flips are almost exclusively served warm.

Where can you get a good flip in this city? Buffalo & Bergen is definitely the most well known place to get an egg flip, and Hogo weighs in as the top contender for most traditional beer flips, using actual loggerheads to heat up their cocktails. The egg flips are off menu at Buffalo & Bergen but Gina Chersevani’s rigorously trained staff are more than happy to whip one up. At Hogo it’s hard to miss Tom Brown if he’s wielding a red hot iron, so if they’re serving flips, you’ll know.

My favorite kind of flip for hosting a party combines the two styles, adding beer to a chilled egg flip. Sound odd, beer and eggs? Well, wait til you try this:

Herbstfest Flip
4 parts aged rum (1 ⅓ oz/40 ml)
2 parts Underberg (⅔ oz/20 ml)
1 part honey syrup (⅓ oz/ 10 ml)
1 part demerara sugar syrup (⅓ oz/ 10 ml)
1 whole egg
Top with a hoppy, spiced beer
Grated nutmeg, to garnish

Combine rum, Underberg, honey syrup and egg in a shaker tin and shake well without ice. Add ice and shake until the tin is nice and frosty. Double strain through a fine mesh (to remove the ice chunks), serve in a wine glass and top with beer, approximately 2 ounces/60 ml. Garnish with grated nutmeg.

This is a recipe adapted from The Aviary’s Charles Joly’s Bittered Bourbon Flip which has these lovely, intense herbal flavors that, mellowed by the creamy richness of the egg, taste like the holidays in a glass. The version above jazzes up those herbal notes with the Underberg and the hoppy beer. I like to use New Belgium Brewing Co.’s winter seasonal Accumulation White IPA because it’s tasty and easy to find in DC. Don’t stress if you can’t find Underberg, many kinds of digestive bitters, Kräuterlikör (think Jägermeister), or alpine liqueur will work. Or try Breckenridge Bitters if you want to keep it in the US. To make the honey syrup, combine equal parts honey and water, which is exactly how the demerara sugar syrup is made as well. If you can find it, late harvest honey works really well in this. The highly concentrated stuff from the warmer months of the year has a more (surprise!) herbal flavor than the lighter, floral honey available in the spring and early summer. Check in at farmers markets, someone is sure to have it.

If you’re planning to serve this for a large party, the method of preparation gets a little tricky. Obviously your arm will fall off if you double shake each drink, so batching will be required. There are two ways to batch egg cocktails. First step is always to mix and chill the ingredients without the egg. In this case combine the rum, syrups, and Underberg, chill with cracked ice and strain the mixture into your batching vessel. If you’ve got an immersion blender (those menacing-looking motorized blades on a stick), batch in whatever you’re planning to serve the drink in, be it a punch bowl or whathaveyou. Add the eggs and hit it with the immersion blender until it’s nice and frothy. Just make sure not to paint your walls with Underberg, it’s not a great interior color. Top the mixture with beer and nutmeg and you’re good to go. Now if you don’t have an immersion blender, all hope is not lost. You can, in a pinch, use a standard blender, but I don’t recommend it. My preferred method to batch egg cocktails for 3-5 people is to use a french press. The preparation is same, mix ingredients and chill and strain into the press pot followed by the eggs. Put on the lid, give the plunger a few quick pumps until the solution is nice and frothy, then remove the lid, distribute evenly amongst guests, top with beer and nutmeg, and you’re golden.

If your guest aren’t down with egg cocktails (where do you find these people??) you can always serve a traditional beer flip. Though I would skip the loggerhead approach unless you have a good health care provider and a well-ventilated space to do it in. Unfortunately though, without the loggerhead it won’t be quite the same. The intense blast of heat from the red hot iron instantly caramelizes the sugars and agitates the beer. Below is the closest way to do this at home without 18th century shipbuilding equipment.

Beer Flip
2 parts aged rum (1 oz/30 ml)
1 part demerara syrup (½ oz/15 ml)
6 parts dark beer (6 oz/18 cl)

Heat two pots on the stove, one needs to be a heavy cast iron number, like a dutch oven, the other can be a standard steel pot. Set the standard pot to medium and combine the rum, syrup, and beer, and bring to a light simmer. We’re just warming it up, so this doesn’t have to be precise. While the mixture is warming set the dutch oven to high heat. Once the mixture is up to temp the dutch oven should be fairly hot. Very carefully and while wearing heat proof gloves, an apron, and goggles, if you’ve got ‘em, dump the warm mixture into the hot dutch oven. The mixture should pop and sizzle and make a bit of a mess, just make sure not to get any of the hot liquid on you. Turn down the burner to low, give the dutch oven a quick stir to agitate the mixture and it’s ready to serve with a ladle.

There ya go, a traditional beer flip. It’s a bit more adventurous than the egg version, but there will definitely be some oooh’s and aahh’s from your guests. Just don’t burn yourself. Now armed with an immersion blender, red hot loggerheads, and a bit of knowledge, you’re ready to take on the holidays.

Paul Allen

While having only recently relocated to DC, Paul has been a long time fan of DC’s cocktail culture. In his short career he has tended bar for GQ, Bombay Sapphire, Campari, and Nikka Whisky in London. Currently you can find him behind the stick at Firefly. When not working, he’s likely vociferously advocating for the DC Craft Bartender’s Guild or trying to brew the perfect cup of tea. Though he misses his native Rhode Island’s beaches and beautiful fall weather, Paul is proud to live, work, and–most importantly–drink in DC.


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