Flips belong to a family of mixed drinks shaken with an egg and sweetened with sugar and generally garnished with grated nutmeg. Historically, the drink’s soothing character made it a favorite in the morning or at bedtime. Today, flips find more of an association with the fall and winter seasons, rather than a particular time of day.
The Oxford English Dictionary states that the term dates back to 1695 to describe a mixture of beer, rum, and sugar then finished with a red-hot iron. This iron tool, known as a loggerhead, featured a long handle with an easily heated bulbous end. Once red-hot, the bartender plunged the loggerhead into the drink. Since the process caused the drink to froth, this engendered the name. This practice reached its peak during American colonial times to mask the flavors of inferior rums. As time went on, the use of eggs and higher proportions of sugar became more vouge. Additionally, the practice of using beer fell out of favor and serving the drink exclusively hot faded.
Jerry Thomas in 1862’s How to Mix Drink; or, The Bon-Vivant’s Companion first codified the usage of eggs. Thomas stated 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.” Over time, the difference between egg nog (cream, egg, spice, a spirit, and sugar) and a flip (no cream, egg, spice, a spirit, and sugar) found its way into bar guides. However, contemporary bar guides now indicate the presence of cream in a flip as optional. Today, bartenders serve flips hot but, more commonly cold, using fortified wines and liquors like brandy, rum, and whiskey/whisky.
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