One of the most popular drinks available in colonial times was a concoction called flip. I first learned about flip from a great book called And a Bottle of Rum, written by Wayne Curtis. This is by far the most interesting book I’ve ever read on the subject, and it’s proven to be a source of endless inspiration in book historical and libation exploration.
“… a tavern keeper started with a large earthenware pitcher or an oversized pewter mug. This would be filled about two-thirds with strong beer, to which was added some sort of sweetener – molasses, loaf sugar, dried pumpkin, or whatever else was at hand. Then came five ounces of rum, neither stirred nor shaken but mixed with a device called a loggerhead – a narrow piece of iron about three feet long with a slightly bulbous head the size of a small onion… plunged red-hot into a beer-rum-and-molasses concoction. The whole mess would foam and hiss and send up a mighty head. This alcoholic porridge was then decanted into smaller flip tumblers…” – Wayne Curtis, And a Bottle of Rum
Life was hard in colonial times. Taverns provided a respite from the hardness of the world. I suspect I might have spent a fair amount of time in taverns in those times. But I’d like to think I’d have been out exploring the virgin North American forests, rivers and mountains too. Leisure time was hard to come by in those days, but it seems a lot of that time was spent in taverns.
The days are short, the weather’s cold
By tavern fires tales are told
Some ask for dram when first come in
Others with flip and bounce begin – Unknown, borrowed from Wayne Curtis, And a Bottle of Rum
I read this book maybe ten years ago, and it stays with me. And of all the drinks Curtis describes, Flip is the one that I’m most fascinated with. I think it’s high time to take the recipe above and make some. That’s a February “project”.