Graphic: Karl Gustafson
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Gee, Kate, when are you going to share a recipe for a cocktail that includes hot beer and a whole egg?

Okay, no one’s ever asked me that, so I’ve taken matters into my own hands. I wanted to learn more about a category of cocktails called flips, which involve beer, a spirit, and an egg, because if there are three substances I always have on hand, it’s beer, booze, and eggs.

Marina Holter, lead bartender at The Whistler in Chicago (and a big flip fan), tells me these are some of the oldest cocktails around, dating back to the 1690s. They originated as nearly equal-parts cocktails: People mixed even amounts of brandy, egg, sugar, then topped it with beer and sometimes inserted a hot soldering iron to froth the beer and heat the drink. Refrigeration wasn’t an option then, so people were used to drinking beer lukewarm or even hot.

If you’ve had hot mulled wine, you can imagine the combination of sugar and warm alcohol that makes a beer flip appealing on a blustery, cold night. But what about that egg? It’s the detail that stops many drinkers in their flip-ordering path, but Holter says you shouldn’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

“I wouldn’t ever straight-up crack an egg and chug it, but it tastes so good in these drinks. It makes flips a hardy, sweeter cocktail, something decadent without being too bad,” she says. “I don’t want to drink melted ice cream, but I want that in cocktail form.”

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The beer flip I made with brandy, porter, brown sugar syrup, and an egg
Photo: Kate Bernot

Her version of a beer flip, called a Safety Net (recipe below) is actually a cold cocktail, using low-proof sherry and Cynar—an artichoke-flavored amaro—to lend it a slightly bitter, earthy profile. For a hot take on this cocktail, I tried out PUNCH’s version, which is a simple mixture of brown beer (I used a robust porter), brandy, an egg, and brown sugar syrup. Think of that as the intro, 101 version, with Holter’s being the more sophisticated 202 level. The warm cocktail was supremely comforting and rich, but with a spicy brandy finish. The egg isn’t noticeably eggy, obviously, instead it adds a frothy texture and an almost cream-like richness.

A safety note about raw-egg cocktails: Yes, you are consuming a raw egg, which we know is not without risks. That said, very few people become sick from consuming them. The American Egg Board (which represents egg producers and thus does have a horse in this race) says salmonella affects perhaps 1 in 20,000 eggs. The odds are ever in your favor, plus I just assume brandy will kill anything bad. Whether or not it’s a scientifically valid assumption, it sure makes for some tasty cocktails.

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Safety Net

Safety Net
Photo: Marina Holter

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  • 2 oz. amontillado sherry
  • 3/4 oz. Cynar
  • 3/4 oz. spiced honey syrup*
  • 1 whole egg
  • 4 oz. IPA beer

* Spiced honey syrup is three parts honey to one part water, heated and stirred until dissolved, with the addition of your favorite warm baking spices. Holter uses fenugreek, cinnamon sticks, and coriander.

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Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and dry shake vigorously.

Add a couple ice cubes to the shaker and shake vigorously again, until the mixture is frothy.

Strain into glass.

Top with beer, and serve.

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