And there's a surprising secret ingredient that brings it all together...
Once the weather starts to cool down, creamy, rich cocktails sound an awful lot more appealing. But in October, we’re nowhere near eggnog season. What’s halfway in between? A drink like the “Nic’s Flip,” named for its creator, Nic Christiansen, the beverage director of Butchertown Grocery in Louisville. (While it’s not on their cocktail list, those in the know can order this drink through the fall and winter, off-menu.)
A “flip” is a classic style of cocktail in which a whole egg is used—not just an egg whites, which many cocktails call for. Whereas egg whites contribute a light, silky texture but not much flavor, a whole egg creates a drink that’s richer and creamier. Not all the way to eggnog territory; eggnog contains milk, as well. But unmistakably rich.
Spanish brandy is the spirit that anchors this cocktail. "The first time I tasted the Lustau Spanish Gran Reserva, I loved how different it was from all the the brandy that I had tasted,” says Christiansen. “It was like Cognac and sherry came together to make a very distinct style of brandy. I loved it and wanted to use it in a warming fall and winter cocktail."
The brandy marries with St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram, which adds warming winter spice, and the orange liqueur Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao. Finally, there’s a good measure of Fernet Vallet. While many drinkers are familiar with the intensely bitter, herbaceous Fernet Branca, the Mexican digestif Fernet Vallet is a different beast: "Fernet Vallet has less mint flavor than Fernet Branca, and more deep, earthy flavors,” says Christiansen.
A dash of saline solution (that’s just salt dissolved in water) is a key touch. “It brings all of the flavors together, like salt added to food,” says Christiansen.
The resulting drink unites smooth brandy and warm spice in a beautiful cocktail that’s rich but still drinkable. "The perfect setting for this drink is on a cold night, hanging out with good friends or family,” according to Christiansen. “It's definitely a seasonal drink that can bring people together."
To properly shake up the egg, Christiansen uses what’s known as a “Reverse Dry Shake”: shake the ingredients with ice, as you would for any normal cocktail; then strain out the ice, reseal, and shake again. Never under-shake an egg drink, as the egg needs a lot of agitation to whip up properly. When in doubt, shake a little harder.
¾ ounce Lustau Solera Gran Reserva Spanish Brandy
¾ ounce Fernet Vallet
¼ ounce St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
¼ ounce Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao
Barspoon demerara syrup*
1 dash saline solution**
1 whole egg
Instructions: Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice, and shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds. The shaker should be cold and the ice should have whipped the egg. Strain drink into the other shaker tin, dump the ice, and then dry shake (without ice) for about 20 seconds. Strain into a cocktail coupe. The cocktail should be creamy and foamy at the top. Garnish with a few drops of Angostura bitters.
Demerara syrup: Combine half a cup of demerara sugar with two ounces of very hot water, and stir until dissolved. Let cool to room temperature before using.
Saline solution: Stir one tablespoon of salt into ¼ cup of hot water and stir until dissolved.