Why was it that the good folks at Imbibe Unfiltered decided to choose “Winter Warmers” for the theme of this Mixology Monday? Did they somehow foresee that good chunks of the Pacific Northwest — including their base in Portland, and mine in Seattle — would be socked in for days on end with temperatures barely venturing above freezing, and snow and ice still an annoyance nearly a week after its first appearance? (And for those of you in Canada, Maine and Missouri, scoffing at my whining about the cold, remember that this is the rainy Northwest, where you’re forced to swap your heavy winter coat for a thin Gore-Tex slicker before they’ll let you have a driver’s license. And for those of you in New York and environs, having a 70+ degree January: just shut the hell up.) Did they imagine that my office would be without heat this morning, leaving me shivering at the keyboard and chilled to the bone by noon? Or was it simply based on a casual glance at the calendar, along with a theme in their current issue that details a number of ways to defrost in mid-January?
Whatever the reason, I enter this MxMo as icy as a mint julep. On a night like this, a more standard warmer won’t quite hack it — a toddy has horsepower, but not enough gumption to properly beat the chill; a concoction with actual fire seems serious about warmth, but my near-immolation while playing with burning rum several MxMos back has made me leery about getting matches too close to my refreshments; and as appealing as a coffee drink sounds, using it to warm up at the end of a long, cold day would leave me goggle-eyed into the wee hours.
Instead, I need a seriously studied winter warmer, one that dates to an era before thermostats and central heating, designed to create an instant heat deep inside then stick tenaciously to your ribs, warming and soothing for the long haul. It’s time to try a rum flip.
And I do mean trying “a” flip as opposed to “the” flip, because, as with so much else, there are a number of different recipes out there. For mine, I’ll go back as far as I can — to Jerry Thomas’ The Bar Tender’s Guide from 1864 (which, it should be noted, offers two versions of this drink; this recipe is the second, more appealing version):
Rum Flip (verbatim from Thomas)
Keep grated ginger and nutmeg with a little fine dried lemon peel, rubbed together in a mortar.
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 gill 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.
The rum flip is closely related to the egg flip, aka the “yard of flannel,” which another shivering PNWer, c at Slakethirst, attempted a while back with mixed reviews. With c’s fair warning mixed with my own curiosity — and my apprehension at drinking something composed mainly of hot beer and eggs — I set out to make my own flip.
First, I scaled down the recipe (see below), as putting away a quart of flip would mean I’d be lying in bed later tonight, bloated and queasy, wishing to god I’d gone with one of the coffee drinks. Next, for the beer: one of the Northwest’s ubiquitous pointy-elbowed hop-bombs of a pale ale seemed out of place in a drink such as this, so instead I chose something smoother and more venerable: Samuel Smith Old Brewery Pale Ale. For the rum, something dark and heavy seemed appropriate, so I pitched in a shot of Gosling’s Black Seal Rum. And for dried lemon peel, as I have none, I went with a bit of fresh.
Rum Flip (my version)
- 1 egg
- 8 ounces ale
- 1 ounce rich simple syrup
- 1/4 tsp mixed fresh-grated lemon peel and nutmeg
- 1 ounce dark rum
Beat egg and add sugar, spice and rum. Heat ale to almost boiling, then place in pitcher or large tankard, and pour egg mixture in another pitcher. Carefully — oh, boy, do I mean carefully — pour the contents of one pitcher into another, then pour back and forth until well-mixed.
Warm? Certainly. Weird? Deeply.
Actually, I’d hesitate before calling this drink “deeply weird”. “Deeply” may be putting too fine a point on it; rather, my perception of the flip’s weirdness is probably the result of cognitive dissonance: for most contemporary drinkers such as myself, the notion of “hot beer” is inherently distasteful if not downright repulsive, and it’s hard to get past that long-established bias while snuggling down with a whole mug of it, with some egg for body and some rum for forebearance and some sugar just to make it palatable.
While the flip is unusual, and intriguing, and kind of curious in a way, the flip just keeps announcing over and over, “I’m hot beer! C’mon, have another sip–” which I do, until I just can’t anymore. Thank goodness I kept the rest of the ale in the fridge; the flip’s lingering taste is going to need some scrubbing.
Head on over to Imbibe Unfiltered to see how many folks had better luck with their winter warmers this Mixology Monday.