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Flippin’ Late

Updated: Jul 30, 2022


The next in my set of cocktail blogs is all about “The Flip”, a cocktail genre that harks back hundreds of years - some say to 17th Century England, when beer, rum and sugar were mixed to give some solace to cold souls in the depth of winter.

After decades of “recipe development” this drink-mix (I struggle to use the modern word cocktail) through a phase of being heated by a red hot poker, the somewhat dubious heating method was lost along with the beer and then strangely egg was added to the mixture. 

Nowadays we know the Flip to contain:

  1. alcohol

  2. sugar 

  3. an egg. 

  4. [Add cream to that mixture and you get a “Nog”.]

Awareness of this recipe starts to let us use some different spirits to the classic cocktail constituents that we have been looking at up to now. In particular I’m excited to start talking about sherry and port. Variety is the spice of life and certainly cocktails too. In particular this brings in new tastes - and please remember “It’s all about taste…!”

I would respectfully suggest that nowadays most households tend not to have sherry or port in the drinks cabinet / kitchen / utility room. This is truly a shame because these two drinks are of a dependably high quality, taste unique, rich and fulsome. Methinks a current association with ‘old-fashioned-ness’ and that these are drinks of a society-gone-by, are prejudices that prevent us from exploring a fantastic world of (well priced) alcoholic flavour that most of us have rarely encountered and therefore appreciated. 

However, back on track to the “Flip”.

As with many great things, simplicity is key. The recipe for a Flip is simple but as this is a different drink to those that we normally come across - richness as well as sweetness both predominate, when sweetness and fruitiness are normally the pairing of today. Indeed, some people recommend a Flip as an alternative to the sweet course of a meal. Not a bad option it would seem!

So why Sherry or Port…?

If a “light” alcohol spirit base is used that is “unaged” eg vodka/gin or a young rum, then the mixture becomes too “boozy” / alcoholic (you know what I mean!) The aged spirit adds a richness that is aided by the mouthfeel of the drink (mouthfeel is an integral feature of taste - which I hope to explore in my blog soon….!).


All sherry is aged in oak barrels. Unlike wine barrels, the sherry barrel isn’t filled full (only 4/5ths) and in doing so, this allows for the growth of a layer of yeast called a “flor” which contributes by making the unique sherry taste. Added to this, the mixing of multiple vintages in the same cask (called fractional aging) is encountered. What this means is that multiple times a year, some of the sherry is taken from the oldest casks and is bottled, the removed volume being replaced by the same volume of the next oldest sherry barrels, and the volume of the second oldest is replaced by the same from the  third oldest etc etc. So none of the casks are emptied and this fractional ageing contributes to the fact that sherry tastes remarkably similar year after year.

As a base spirit for mixing, be aware that sherry volumes will need to be slightly more than “thin” spirits such as vodka or gin.

Fino/Manzanilla - eg Tio Pepe - is very fragile to keep

Amontillado - a rich aroma based spirit that works well within cocktails 

Oloroso - Very strong and rich (be prepared to experiment with an oloroso replacing Vermouth in a Manhattan…..!)

Sweet sherries - consider as an “alcoholic simple syrup”

Cream sherry- a mixture of various styles - ranging from excellent to… less so


Another replacement for vermouth in a Manhattan style cocktail, Port is a versatile player in the cocktail recipe book.

Ruby Port 

  • a non-vintage aged for at least two years

  • fresh and fruity - mixing well with citrus constituents

Vintage Port 

  • aged for at least 2 years in barrels and then more years in bottles.

  • This bottling seems to generate a fruitier flavour

Late bottled Vintage Port

  • As the name suggests, this spends longer in the barrels

  • Often drunk earlier than vintage port

Tawny Port

  • A blended port from various vintages