'Tis The Season

A great holiday cocktail is equal parts inviting, familiar and spirit-warming (without being warm itself, in many cases). Yet there is never a time of year quite like the holiday season to venture outside one's cocktail comfort zone. Nothing like an ugly oversized sweater and the concept of wind chill to empower one to sample the seductive power of egg nog or the theraputive powers of a toddy.

You can knock yourself out (literally and figuratively) making a 'Nog or Tom & Jerry from scratch, but my hands down go-to beverage of choice when it gets a bit cold and festive is the classic flip. Jerry Thomas was the first to populize the flip, but the basic recipe is quite simple:

  • Spirit of your choice
  • Sugar (typically in the form of a simple syrup)
  • Raw Egg

I know what you're thinking - I'm not Rocky. Eggs are gross. RAW EGGS WILL KILL ME.

If you are concerned about uncooked eggs in your beverage, I would consult this excellent Serious Eats arcticle on the use of eggs in cocktails (Part 2 is available here).

At a high level the only real difference between a flip and a nog is the role of cream (a nog has cream, a flip does not). In reality I tend to find nog recipes have a bunch more sugar in them then flips. Nogs also sometimes require the separating of eggs (yolk + sugar combined first, whites folded in after) whereas flips you're dealing with a whole egg combined in one step. Flips are my weapon of choice when it's just my wife and I at home whereas I will attempt an egg nog for groups.

Whether you're looking to impress someone this holiday, or you don't want to attempt something that's overly involved in the kitchen, my go to flip recipe is for you. May I present, Cognacalac:


  • 2 oz Cognac (I have been digging Pierre Ferrand this year, but Hennessey is a mainstay in most liquor stores and high quality)
  • .5 oz Rich Simple Syrup (This is a 2:1 ratio of sugar to water heated in a sauce pan to dissolve the sugar in the water, then cooled and stored in a container - squeezebottles or jars work fine. Keeps for 1-2 months if refrigerated)
  • 1 whole egg
  • Grated whole Nutmeg


  1. Crack an egg into a cocktail shaker
  2. Shake the egg by itself to combine white + yolk and get a bit of froth going
  3. Add simple syrup (.5 oz), Cognac (2 oz) and fill shaker 3/4 of the way with ice
  4. Shake vigorously for 30 seconds
  5. Strain beverage contents into a glass of your choosing
  6. Grate nutmeg over the top of your beverage (Ground nutmeg can do in a pinch, but grating your own is inifintely better from both a style points and flavor perspective
  7. Enjoy

Having recently relocated to a somewhat warmer climate (San Francisco) from where I grew up (Chicago) and have been spending my past few Christmas holidays (Washington, DC), this drink is equal parts refreshing and satiating in all the right ways. The egg gives it body while the typical bite of cognac is mellowed significantly. The nutmeg unleashes a wave of past holiday memories and the sugar gives it enough sweetness to bind everything together.

If you're not used to flips, I think you'll be presently surprised about how well balanced this drink is. It is best served when slightly hungry and cold as it will warm you up and provide enough calories to tide you over until dinner.

You can get adventerous and swap out cognac for something like port, rum or bourbon. You could theoretically try any spirit, although i feel vodkas and gins don't hold up well against the body of an egg (they work best in a traditional sour which is egg white + simple syrup - more on those in a future post).

Questions/comments/threats against my holiday standby? Tweet me @agilemofo