Monday, January 5, 2009

Am I on a dignified goose chase here?

While I was revisiting punch recipes involving green tea for my recent post at Blushing Hostess, Heretical Suggestion #2, I came across one I have wondered about before. More than once I have admonished my inner Hostess (an avid student of arcane and potentially useless historical oddities) to research a reference for a beverage called, "Flip" in a favorite old cookbook and the applicable serving vessel, a "Flip cup or bowl." The book, Charleston Receipts, was the first junior league cookbook in the United States. It is now fifty-nine years past first publication but still going strong in subsequent printings and for many, still entirely relevant.

Some of the recipes therein are recorded from the colonial period in Charleston and are no longer regularly utilized, presumably the ghostly recipe for Flip falls into this group as I was able to find very little information on it. However, the ingredients are easily recognizable as a pre-cursor, possibly, to egg nog.

The book notes the following under the Flip recipe:

"This refreshing drink was in vogue in England in the 18th century and was brought to Carolina when settled by the Lord's Proprietors. The South Carolina Society of Colonial Dames owns a Flip bowl or glass. It is of glass, small at the bottom and gradually widens to the top. It holds about a quart."
- Charleston Receipts, as submitted by Miss Ellen Parker, Junior League of Charleston, 1950

The recipe which follows this brief introduction is nearly egg nog, with the exception of the common habit of beating the egg whites to peaks to create frothiness (an ingredient frequently replaced in the modern age by folding in salmonella-safe whipped heavy cream). Fine. Now, the mystery begins...

According to one Rosemary E. Bachelor (whose credentials and sources are not forthcoming) in Fun-to-Serve Colonial Beverages, the age-old recipe of the Abbott Tavern in Holden, Massachusetts, followed the lines of the Charleston recipe generally but also included beer and brandy and required a red-hot fire poker be thrust into an all-pewter mug to heat the drink. The poker was not mentioned in the Charleston version either.

And according to Everyday Needs and Diversions in Chronicles of America
"Flip was made in different ways, but a common variety was a mixture of rum, pumpkin beer, and brown sugar, into which a red-hot poker had been plunged." Huh.

And the Encyclopedia of Practical Cookery edited by Theodore Francis Garrett, 1898. 1898 chimes in with, "Flip is an intoxicating drink that has undergone an amazing transformation through the years, changing in every respect but the name. The original Flips were forthright beer, wine or rum mixtures, served piping hot, being heated by the simple expedient of plunging a red hot poker directly into the bowl, pitcher or glass. A colonial American recipe for Flip, for example, called for beer or ale, rum and molasses in proportions determined more by availability than formula, and heated as already described. Raw eggs were sometimes added. " Okay, so noted.

Finally, my eyes hopped to what might be a generalization broad enough to marry all of these contradicting formulas: "Flip is a name given to drinks originally made with beer, spirit, and eggs, stirred and heated with a hot iron, called a flip-dog. Flips are now simply heated over a fire." made in the Food and Menu Dictionary, by J.O. Dahl, 1945. Flip-dog, really? Those colonials sound pretty rocker-hip.

That is not by way of a conclusion on my part. Hardly, it is merely a means of walking back the cat in order to solicit the wise intonations of my well-read readership.

All of this confusion and nuisance just to tell you that I have been looking high and low for a Flip bowl (cup or glass, as it were) meeting the description of the Flip bowl in Charleston Receipts. If following the description above, it could be a much larger version of a julep cup, possibly? If so I have one. If not, I need one. And in order to get one, I need your help. What do you know about this illusive vessel?


An Aesthete's Lament said...

Here you go! Reproduction flip glasses used to be made for the gift shop of the Metropolitan Museum of Art ...

Blushing hostess said...

Oh, thank you! Such a relief that I am not mad as a hatter - today, that is...

Arabella said...

I looked this up once ages ago, because in the movie "Grand Hotel" Lionel Barrymore keeps asking the bartender for a Louisiana Flip, and gets hammered after too many.