Flip Cocktails

For the Great Emu War

Your cocktail calendar entry for: November
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Today we’re making a Flip cocktail.  You see, November 2 is the anniversary of the day the Great Emu War broke out and that’s just too good to pass up.  The event was was not a war pitting troops against enormous sentient birds armed with weaponry.  Rather, it was an ill-fated wildlife control measure in which the Royal Australian Artillery was defeated by land-bound birds with the same body-to-brain ratio as a Brachiosaurus.  You can use the spirit of your choice and we’ll explain how to make a Flip cocktail.

The Background

Soon after World War I the Australian government promoted farming in Western Australia by giving land to many discharged veterans.  When the Great Depression hit in 1929 the farmers were encouraged to increase wheat production and the government promised subsidies.  Somehow wheat prices continued to decline and the farmers weren’t in a good mood.

Then the emus stepped in, so to speak.  The birds discovered that the newly cleared land now full of wheat was a nice place to hang out for a tasty meal.  They decimated wheat crops and destroyed fences.  The latter was appreciated by rabbits, who suddenly enjoyed access to the goods.

The farmers went to the Deputy of Defense to request the deployment of machine guns.  It seemed like a good idea at the time and the Deputy agreed.

The Great Emu War

On November 2 armed troops traveled to where 50 emus were sighted.  The birds were out of range, so the farmers attempted to herd the birds into an ambush.  This didn’t work.  The emus split into small groups, ran in every direction, and only a small number were killed.

The troops tried moving south the next day, where the birds were “reported to be fairly tame.”  This did not improve success.  By the fourth day army observers recorded that “each pack seems to have its own leader now—a big black-plumed bird which stands fully six feet high and keeps watch while his mates carry out their work of destruction and warns them of our approach”.  They even tried mounting the gun on a truck.  That didn’t help as they couldn’t keep up with the emus and the ride was too rough to shoot.

As ornithologist Dominic Serventy noted:

“The machine-gunners’ dreams of point blank fire into serried masses of Emus were soon dissipated.  The Emu command had evidently ordered guerrilla tactics, and its unwieldy army soon split up into innumerable small units that made use of the military equipment uneconomic.  A crestfallen field force therefore withdrew from the combat area after about a month.”

Military reports to command were not exactly glowing, but did note that the men had suffered no casualties.  Perhaps that’s not such a bad thing in a land with a reputation of “everything wants to kill you.”   Then again, being outwitted by birds too stupid to avoid running into fixed objects is not a great morale builder.

The Drink

Our Editorial Board determined that if emus are involved a drink containing eggs is required.  Egg white is commonly used in sours, as we did with the Rattlesnake cocktail.  But today we’re going to move into a cocktail family we haven’t yet discussed:  the Flip.

Flips originated in England where they were considered a sailor’s drink.  They were made from a mixture of ale, rum, molasses and whole egg.  The mixture was poured between two vessels to mix and then heated on a stove.  The ingredient combination made it over to the colonies in America, but instead of using a stove the drink was stirred, heated and frothed with a hot iron rod pulled from the fireplace.

The Flip as we know it today – without beer, shaken and served cold – became popular in the late 19th century.  As David Embury wrote in The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, “a Flip is any wine or liquor shaken up with sugar and a whole egg.”  But worry not, you don’t need an emu egg.

A Flip is really a class of drinks rather than a singular recipe, so you can use the spirit of your choice.  We believe that Brandy or an aged Rum best suit our palates, but the recipe below is just a template.  Mix according to your whims.

Flip cocktail

Rum Flip

While the drink shown is a Rum Flip, you should not feel at all constrained to this spirit. The recipe is just a template, and you can employ Brandy, Whiskey or even fortified wines like Port or Sherry. Our tastes at The Drunkard's Almanac lean toward Brandy or aged Rum, but try it with whatever pleases you.
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  • Nick and Nora or coupe glass


  • 2 oz Rum , other spirit of your choice, or fortified wine.
  • ½ oz Simple syrup
  • 1 Whole egg
  • Garnish: nutmeg


  • Add all ingredients to your trusty cocktail shaker.
  • Dry shake without ice to thoroughly mix all ingredients.
  • Add ice and shake until frosty cold.
  • Strain into pre-chilled cocktail glass.
  • Grate fresh nutmeg on top.
  • Drink.
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