Your Eggy Guide to Winter Drinks

January 15, 2015

Despite our best efforts, it looks like we might actually be in the middle of winter. Some will wistfully reflect on the past summer, and mourn the temporary loss of gin rickeys and mint juleps, but for me, the dead of winter means it’s once again acceptable to drink rich whiskey and rum based, cream-and-egg-laden cocktails. Fair warning, these aren’t drinks you should have if you’re already planning for swimsuit season. However, these cocktails will make you so fat, drunk, and happy that you most likely won’t care how that mankini will look on you next summer.

Like so many other drinking traditions, we owe the spiritual roots of many of these drinks to the British Navy and our colonial forebears. When winter hit, and one found one’s self without central heating (or in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean), the need for a warming beverage was a bit more pressing. Borne out of the need to get warm and drunk simultaneously, the flip came into being.

The flip is so-named after the roiling, “flipping” motion the ingredients make when they’re met with a red-hot iron poker (called a loggerhead). Some sources claim that the name comes from the flipping method of mixing the drink, but that is likely apocryphal. The original version of the drink is served warm, but the flip has since become a catchall term for any drink (hot or cold) that contains some combination of egg, sugar, spices, and spirit.

So give this a whirl:

The Original Rum Flip (as mentioned by Dale DeGroff in the Craft of the Cocktail)

  • 3 Eggs
  • 3 Tsp. sugar
  • 1.5 Oz. New England Rum
  • 1.5 Oz. Brandy
  • 12-16 Oz. Ale (no type specified, but I prefer a brown ale like Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale)
  • 1 pewter mug
  • 1 red-hot loggerhead heated in a fire

Directions:

  • In a tempered pint glass or pewter mug, mix eggs and sugar until thoroughly combined
  • Add rum and brandy and beat to incorporate
  • Fill the remainder of the glass with ale; insert loggerhead until mixture froths and hisses

New England rum has its origins in an unlikely place for a spirit associated with the tropics — Staten Island, New York and Boston, Massachusetts. Rum production was so ubiquitous in colonial America that the industry constituted the most lucrative portion of New England’s economy for nearly a century. New England rum’s popularity had one especially unfortunate byproduct — demand for rum in the Americas greatly contributed to the West Indies triangle trade and slavery in the United States. Additionally, the rum produced in the region was so profligate and well regarded that it was actually an accepted method of currency in Europe for much of the 17th and 18th centuries. New England rum is unique from its Caribbean counterparts in that it’s exclusively pot-stilled from black strap molasses, and generally aged between 5-10 years. The result is a much lighter-bodied spirit that tastes more like whiskey than traditional spiced rum. Consumption of this rum was at one point so widespread, that if divided amongst the population at the time (including children), everyone in the United States consumed an average of 14 liters of rum annually.

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It’s ironic then that whiskey would ultimately supplant rum’s popularity in the United States. And you can blame it all on war. As the British occupied most of New England during the Revolutionary War, distillers fled. As the pioneers moved west, they didn’t have molasses so they distilled the corn and barley they encountered. Over the next few decades, American tastes switched over to bourbon. In 1817, only two distilleries existed in New England, by 1872, the last New England rum still shut down. There is a silver lining though. Several companies have started distilling New England rum again. While it’s unlikely you’ll ever be able to use it to buy bread, you can still make drinks with it, which I think is probably more important. I’m partial to Thomas Tew, but there are a number of distilleries cropping up now.

Three more flips for you:

Port Wine Flip

  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Tsp. Sugar
  • 1.5 Oz. Port Wine

 

Directions:

  • Dry shake to incorporate ingredients
  • Shake well over ice, double strain
  • Serve in flip glass with grated nutmeg

Whiskey Flip

  • 1 Egg
  • .5 Oz. Galliano
  • 1.5 Oz. Rye
  • 2 Dash Peychaud’s Bitters

Directions:

  • Dry shake to incorporate ingredients
  • Pour into flip glass, top with stout, insert loggerhead until warm

Bitter Flip

I used to love drinking bitters-based drinks when tending bar. This is one I would drink during the slow periods.

  • 1 Egg
  • .5 Oz. Crème de Cacao
  • .5 Oz. Thomas Tew
  • .75 Oz. Angostura Bitters
  • .5 Oz. Maple Syrup

Directions:

  • Dry shake to incorporate ingredients
  • Shake well over ice, double strain
  • Serve in footed rocks glass with grated cinnamon.

Nogs

Spiritual cousins to the flip, nogs are effectively the same drink, just with the addition of delicious, delicious cream. The word nog likely derives from the Middle English word “noggin,” which was a wooden mug used for alcohol. Nogs and Flips are sometimes difficult to differentiate when doing research, as the two terms were often interchanged before the definitions were standardized. The classic eggnog combines eggs, milk, cream, sugar, and brandy/rum/sherry/port to delicious effect, and should be consumed year-round — not just at Christmas. Like flips, nogs were exceptionally popular in colonial America, due in large part to the ubiquity of cheap dairy and poultry products.

Eggnog is the only beverage to my knowledge to have an actual riot named after it. The Wikipedia article on the so-called “Eggnog Riot” and/or “Grog Mutiny” goes into more detail than I have room for, but in short, prompted by a campus-wide prohibition on drinking, several cadets (including future president of the Confederacy and highway eponym, Jefferson Davis) at the United States Military Academy smuggled whiskey onto campus right before its 1826 Christmas party.

The result? A riot, of course!

Several commanding officers were assaulted, numerous officers fired guns in attempts to quell the reverie; a number of windows were broken; several cadets missed Christmas mass due to drunkenness; and sixteen cadets were expelled. During the subsequent inquest into the matter, approximately seventy cadets were implicated in either drinking or smuggling the whiskey on campus. The sentences for the men involved were actually endorsed by then-president John Quincy Adams. Some say that to this day, it was the best party ever thrown at West Point.

I never developed my own eggnog recipe, but I found, after extensive trial and error that Alton Brown’s recipe is amazing. The nice thing about non-alcoholic eggnog is that it’s such an excellent mixer, that if you have a little bit of creativity, you can really add anything to it. Here are some favorites:

General Harrison’s Eggnog (for Parties)

  • 1 Qt. Eggnog
  • 24 Oz. Normandy Cider

Directions:

  • Mix cider and eggnog in large punchbowl
  • Grate cinnamon over the top

Grandad’s Nog

  • 1 Oz. Eggnog
  • 1 Oz. Old Grandad Whiskey
  • 1 Oz. Smith and Cross Rum
  • 1 Oz. Madeira

Directions:

  • Shake over ice, double strain, garnish with shaved nutmeg

Eggnog Alexander

Essentially a Brandy Alexander with eggnog instead of cream.

  • 2 Oz. Brandy
  • .5 Oz. Crème de Cacao
  • .5 Oz. Eggnog

Directions:

  • Shake over ice, double strain, garnish with shaved nutmeg

If all this is too complicated, I can only offer up one solution, El Dorado Rum Cream. It’s low proof, but my god does it taste delicious. We tried to keep this in the bar, but it was just too good served over crushed ice. If you want to dress it up, it goes really nicely with, you guessed it, grated nutmeg.

So as we get further entrenched in winter, instead of trying to eke out a jog wherever possible, or doing pushups in your apartment, put on your slippers, draw the shades, and join me in putting on some winter weight for the coming hibernation.

 

Alex Hecht is editor of Molotov Cocktail. He works as a Security Analyst in Washington, DC. Before working for the man, he managed the Gibson, a cocktail bar in DC’s U Street corridor. Alex’s life is admittedly mellower now, but his liver probably thanks him for that.

 

Photo credit: David Armano (adapted by WOTR)