17th Century Brandy Flip

Jun 25, 2017

Today’s Mr. Boston’s recipe, the Brandy Flip, is all over the place. While I think the name was originally intended to describe the preparation of the drink, the amount of flip flopping this cocktail recipe has undergone over the years is impressive!

I did my best to delve into the Flip before my morning coffee but alas this one required some caffeine to figure out. After fixing a cup of Joe, Ryan whisked me out of the house for a belated anniversary celebration which concluded with a screening of the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie. So here I am at 8:22 PM picking things off where I left them 🙂 The late night Sunday post tradition continues!

The original Flip is said to have been discovered way back in the 1600’s. Long before cocktails were even really a thing. Described as a mixture of beer, rum and sugar – the Flip appears to have been sailors fare. The perfect pairing for my pirate day!

Back in 1695 the Flip would have been served warm after being heated with a red-hot iron. When Jerry Thomas got a hold of the recipe he published a wide array of Flips in his 1862 ‘How to Mix Drinks’. The renamed the Ale Flip is described as:

  • Take 1 quart of ale
  • 2 raw fresh egg whites
  • 4 raw fresh egg yolks
  • 4 ounces of moist sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of grated nutmeg (or ginger)

The title, “Hot English Ale Flip” suggests that this is a heated beverage but there are not instructions for how to heat it up. Oddly enough, the directions for preparing a Hot Brandy Flip are in tact despite the recipe being pages away from the early mentioned Ale Flip. Thought organization was not Jerry’s strong suit 🙂

To read Mr. Boston’s Flip rendition, you may be lead to believe that a Flip cocktail was merely another title for the Brandy Egg Nogg. The sugar was decreased and the milk was swapped for cream but generally speaking, the Brandy Flip and the Brandy Egg Nogg recipes in the 1935 book are practically one in the same.

Leo Cotton’s published version was a bit boring and Jerry’s recipe didn’t really do it for me either. I decided to go rogue!

In true pirate style, I choice to take tonight’s recipe a different way all together.

Naturally, I needed to use Brandy but I employed Jerry Thomas’ Hot English Rum Flip recipe as the base. The ingredients are identical to the Ale Flip recipe above but the Rum version adds a gill (a quarter of a pint) of old Rum. I replaced the Rum with Brandy and tada! 

The proportions needed to be scaled, drinking 4 raw eggs before bed sounded like a lot to ask of my stomach. After scaling all the ingredients back by a factor of 4, my Brandy Flip was still larger than most of the vintage cocktails I’ve tried so far.

Chimay Red

We pirated several cases of Chimay from the Riveria Hotel shortly before it was imploded. It’s been chilling in the pantry ever since.

Ryan volunteered his Red Chimay for sacrifice. We heated up 8 ounces of the ale on the stove. I didn’t have a red-hot iron.

In the metal shaker we combined 1 ounce of simple syrup with 1 raw egg. Just before removing the beer from the cooktop Ryan added 1 ounce of Brandy.

Jerry Thomas fancied throwing liquor about and his Flip recipe is uses the same technique made famous in his Blue Blazer. Pouring the hot liquid over the cold egg helped to froth the drink and seems to have prevented another poached cocktail mishap.

Hot beer is weird. But it isn’t bad enough to tank. The nutmeg sprinkled on top added to the drink and made the ale notes less funky. It could be that we chose the wrong type of beer like our ill-fated Black Velvet cocktail or it just could be that we enjoy our beers ice cold. Maybe Rum would have been a better fit?

Either way, I’m glad we gave something new the old college try. I don’t think we’ve discovered the next big thing in cocktails but it was fun trying out a three hundred year old beverage!