What if I were to tell you that all you need to make your bonfire night go off with a bang was an egg? A raw egg, to be precise, muddled together with sticky sweet honey and a rocket fuel alloy of spirit and liquor, to be consumed fireside with friends.

Doesn’t sound too appetising? Well eggs are – and have been – widely used in a plethora of cocktails. Egg white is a key component in the whisky sour and the gin fizz, its frothiness creating their silky texture. Using the yolk results in a more custardy drink: eggnogs and their universal interpretations are winter cocktail staples.

Texturally, a flip nestles between the two: while a whole egg is used, the cocktail contains no milk or cream, so remains light and silken. “There is a light smokiness, alongside an autumnal richness, to the flip that makes it very soothing,” says Ryan Chetiyawardana, aka Mr Lyan, the man behind award winning, hyper-stylised London bars White Lyan and Dandelyan. “When you are retreating from the cold, it’s an amazing remedy.”

Flips have been providing welcome balm from the elements since the late 17th century, when they were wildly popular first among the patrons of colonial America’s taverns, then thirsty Britons. Back then, the drink – also fetchingly known as a bellow-stop, hotch-pot and crambambull – referred to a blend of alcohol, eggs and sugar, and was often served hot and spiced.

“Flips contained beer and were served hot, using a red hot poker to foam up or ‘flip’ the drink,” says Ryan. This toothsome blend remained largely unchanged until the mid-19th century, when it was first listed in bartender extraordinaire Jerry Thomas’ How To Mix Drinks (1862), and the flip began to be served cold.

Ryan’s Bonfire Night-inspired version rubs shoulders with the traditional recipe, but omits the beer, instead blending fruity sloe gin and honey-tinged whisky. “Sloe gin has a tangy berry note that leans it more towards a liqueur than the herbal dryness of a gin,” says Ryan. “The depth of flavour and texture of a malt works best here. Bourbon has sweetness, but misses the nutty spice of a malt that makes this a truly warming drink.”

Good Things to Drink with Mr Lyan and Friends is published by Frances Lincoln, priced £20.

Mr Lyan’s Fireside Flip (Serves 2)


2 thumb-sized pieces of ginger
2 tbsp honey
Just over 2 shots (60ml) sloe gin
2 shots (50ml) honeyed-style malt whisky
2 whole eggs
Dash Angostura bitters

Chilled sherry glass
Cubed ice
Nutmeg, to finish


  1. Using a pestle and mortar, roughly crush the ginger and shake with the honey.
  2. Add the other ingredients and shake without ice. Add the ice and shake again.
  3. Using both hands, strain the drink through a Hawthorne strainer (held flush with the opening of the shaker) and a small fine sieve positioned over your glass.
  4. Garnish each glass with a little grated nutmeg.

From delicious to stratospheric…
“A little splash of Lagavulin or smoky whisky – just a teaspoon or so – adds an amazing warmth and links nicely with the fireside aroma.”

Shopping list…
“Plymouth sloe gin has always been a go-to for me, but a homemade version is a cheap alternative – take your favourite good-quality gin, perforate some sloe berries with a pin and leave to infuse with a touch of sugar.

“For the whisky, Aberfeldy 12, Highland Park 12 and Clynelish 14 all offer tremendous value. A sweeter blend such as Famous Grouse, Cutty Sark or Chivas 12 will certainly work, but might leave a lighter drink.”

Image by Kim Lightbody