A janitor’s advice on Flips.

Dear Mister Janitor,

One of my favorite things to make now are flips, particularly fernet flips.

This is my home recipe:

  • 2 parts Fernet Branca
  • 1 part simple syrup (1:1)
  • 1 whole egg
  • dry shake, add ice, shake and strain and serve with a dash of Angostura bitters

What can I do to make it good to bomb-tastic?


Fernet Lover

Dear Fernet Lover,

Flips are mysterious, “dangerous,” drinks that can be traced back to the 18th century when our founding fathers drank madeira by the quart and whisky by the pint, before lunch. Italian Amari and strong liquors are well suited for this format because of the tactile sensation of the egg and the richness of the cocktail will blunt the assertiveness of your base spirit. Given some tweaking we could take your recipe for a Fernet Flip and turn it into the best chocolate milkshake you have ever had.

Fernet-Branca Logotype

A couple of things to keep in mind, consuming raw eggs is less dangerous than eating that American-Processed-Cheese-Product you are plowing into these days, and way less dangerous than consuming alcohol, a toxic substance that your body recognizes as a poison.  The Man has to warn you that consuming raw or undercooked eggs are dangerous because of their permissiveness of factory farms and industrial agriculture, if you didn’t have hens living on top of each other and pooping all over themselves then eggs would probably be safer.

So let’s break apart your recipe, as a lover of bitters, even still, that’s a lot of Fernet, and a lot of one flavor for a cocktail to handle, so let’s split it and pair with something that has an affinity for potable bitters.  Your best bet is to go with an Italian-style sweet vermouth to soften the bitters, and give some complimentary flavors in the drink.  Initially I would suggest starting with a 1:1 ratio, but would personally settle on going with 2 parts vermouth to 1 part Fernet.  Even with that volume of sweet vermouth you’re still going to need a touch of sugar to balance the bitterness of the cocktail,  I would suggest switching to a rich syrup (2:1) so you are adding as little water as possible to your finished drink maintaining the richness of the finished cocktail. I would double up on the Angostura and add them to the cocktail, as well as garnishing the top to enhance the aroma. At the end of the dissection here’s the recipe that your janitor would present.

  • Glass: Small Chimney, Rocks, or Cocktail (well-chilled)
  • Garnish: Angostura Bitters
  • Ingredients:
    • 1.75 oz of Carpano Antica Formula vermouth
    • 1.0 oz Fernet Branca
    • 0.5 oz Rich Simple Syrup
    • 1 Dash Angostura Bitters
    • 1 Whole egg, from a happy, well-cared for hen, not some shitty specimen from a mega-super-mart

Method: Combine vermouth, Fernet, Angostura bitters, and whole egg in your shaker tin.  Shake it for at least a solid minute.  Add your simple syrup and a big scoopful of ice and shake it again for a good long time, then shake it for a little bit more.  Strain it into a glass and hit the top of the drink with some more Angostura. Maybe you get fancy and draw a heart with the bitters and declare your love of Fernet Branca.


As a final note, don’t fear egg cocktails, Consuming raw eggs is far less dangerous than consuming alcohol*.

*This statement isn’t approved by the FDA.


[Have a drink question? Leave a comment and the Janitor will get back to you after the beep.]

About Kevin Burke

Kevin is an occasional barman and fulltime practitioner of the Janitorial Arts at Colt & Gray.

  • http://www.encoreoncolfax.com Adam Dunbar

    Another questions arises from this. Why Carpano as opposed to, say, something like Dolin or Noilly Prat and how would that change the profile of the cocktail?

    • Kevin Burke

      Dolin, M &R, and Noilly make fine French and Italian styled vermouths, in this application the Carpano works best because of its heft. It’s just a bigger vermouth that’s going to stand up to the other ingredients.

  • http://www.bigmargaritacrawl.com Mike

    Which wonderful establishments in the Denver area would be serving this interesting sounding beverages?

    • Jason

      Theoretically any bar with eggs and a decent cocktail program. Green Russell and Colt & Gray both have it. Steuben’s bartenders could definitely do it (ask for Moe!), as well as the Squeaky and Root Down. Even Stranahans and Euclid might.

      Encore could probably too, now that Adam Dunbar (see comment above) is at the helm.

      Oh, and of course the private homes of you and yours. I’m sure there’s a swanky pad with eager tasters somewhere in your circle of friends.

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