The Jet Set Flip (rocks)
dark rum, tuaca, lemon, egg white, vanilla brown syrup
shake ingredients and strain over fresh ice
sugar rim, lemon garnish
The Jet Set Flip was my favorite drink on the Launch Party cocktail list. Partly due to my love affair with dark rum (well, good dark rum, anyway), partly due to my newfound appreciation for vanilla. And partly because it has egg white in it, because making drinks with egg white in them is not only delicious, but also just cool, for reasons that are either self-apparent or never will be. It's old-school in all the right ways. There really was a golden age of mixology, a back in the day, if you will, when they were better at this whole business of making cocktails, and didn't use all this prefabricated high-fructose corn syrup nonsense that's so prevalent in bars today, because they didn't have it. And when you look in recipe books from back in those days, a staple, especially of tropical sorts of drinks, was the egg white, which turns creamy and frothy when you shake it over ice, and transforms the harsh acidity of citrus juices into a teasing, exotic, velvety-glove kind of feeling that strokes your taste buds in the most tantalizing way.
I have my friend Andrew to thank for my knowledge of/interest in egg whites, and thus for part of the inspiration for this drink, of which I am, as I mentioned, quite fond. He worked with me for many years at Tost (in fact, I gave him his first shift as a bartender) before moving on to other things. Of all the people I ever trained as a bartender, he's the guy that's picked it up and run with it more than anyone else, and it's pretty impressive to see how far he's gone (you can check out his blog, Cask Strength, to which he too occasionally posts, here).
Anyway, sometime during the period when I'd stopped being Andrew's boss, and he'd started being mine, Andrew became obsessed with the Pisco Sour, which is, incidentally, technically a Flip, I think, since a Flip is a Sour with egg white in it, and the Pisco Sour is traditionally made with egg white. However the etymology works out, we started stocking egg whites at the bar, sometimes (mostly, even) at Andrew's expense, just to have them around. There was even a small following, for a while, a few people who'd come in and ask if we had egg whites that day so we could make them a proper Pisco Sour. Later, Andrew and I collaborated on a bar for a charity event for a company he was working for, and co-created a drink called the Girl from Ipanema, that I think involved dark rum and pineapple juice, and also had egg white in it. I don't remember what else was in it.
Egg white is kind of a litmus test for a drinker or mixologist. Enthusiasm for egg whites is usually the first sign of mixological dorkdom, and even if you've tried it and don't care for it, it's a good sign if the guy or girl who's mixing your drinks gets excited about egg whites. It usually means they know their stuff, and know the old ways, when people had to make their sour from lemon juice and simple syrup or even sugar, because there wasn't such a thing as sour mix.
Mmm. Got so excited talking about the Jet Set Flip I decided to stop and make myself one. Delicious.
So, getting back on track, the Jet Set Flip was one of the later additions to the cocktail list, one of the ones I created with the ingredients for previous cocktails on the list in mind. After all, I was trying to need the least number of different kinds of liquor, while still being able to make interesting things. I'd already decided to add the Sly Wink, an old standby whose story I'll tell some other day, which meant I needed a bottle of Tuaca, but wouldn't be using much, since there's literally just a wee touch of the stuff in the Sly Wink. So I started thinking about what to do with the rest of the bottle. I'd also already decided on having the Caribbean Christmas, which has been one of the most successful drinks I've ever invented, universally loved by everyone who's ever tried it, and which meant I'd have Gosling's Black Seal Rum, which is my one of my favorite dark rums. There are better, to be sure, but nothing near that good at that good a price. Putting the two in the same glass seemed like a good idea. I also briefly considered adding some brandy to the mix, but when I made it at the lab it was too astringent, and the astringency blocked the considerable synergy between the Gosling's and the Tuaca, which seem to be made for one another. The Tuaca takes the alcohol edge off of the rum, and the burnt sugar aspect of the rum's flavor profile syncs nicely with both the vanilla and the nut flavors in the Tuaca, and cuts the syrupy sweetness so common in liqueur-strength alcohols.
The Tuaca lemon drop is a good standby when someone wants something a little off the beaten path, but you don't feel like making something up on the fly. It's a crowd-pleaser, and not particularly challenging to make. So I knew that lemon played nicely into the Tuaca's flavor profile, and that a little sweetener to take the edge off the lemon would work as well. I find the Tuaca lemon drop a little sweet, myself, so cutting the Tuaca with rum seemed like a good idea. And the difference between a Lemon Drop and an old school Sour (with vodka, in this case) is more or less academic, to be honest.
The night I was playing with the recipe was also the night I was working on Porch Rockin' Punch #3, discussed below, and, having made the vanilla brown syrup to play with, I tried it in the Jet Set Flip as well, and was much pleased with the results. The egg white just seemed a natural fit, though I didn't decide on it for sure until I named the thing.
I have a confession to make. I love naming drinks. It's one of the funnest thing about making them up. Yes, I love mixing the flavors and doing the things I know how to do to make them come out a certain way. But giving a drink a name, really encapsulating its essence, is my favorite little nook of the mixologist's art.
I usually look for inspiration in one of two places. Either I name it after something to do with women (the Chanteuse, the Sly Wink, and the Catholic Schoolgirl being examples), or I take my inspiration from where the liquors are made. Tuaca is Italian. Gosling's is made in Bermuda. I tried to think of a connection. What I came up with is that Italy and Bermuda are both nice places where wealthy people like to go because it's so pleasant to be there. The Jet Set, if you will. Then the words 'The Jet Set Flip' popped into my head, and it just seemed so right that it stuck. And I think it works. It is, after all, a luxurious sort of drink. Dangerously so, in fact, as it goes down all too easily, and hides it potency until it has snuck up and had its way with you.
I remember making a round for Tess and Eric at the Launch Party. They'd both gotten wise to the way to go at that point, and were ordering two drinks apiece. I don't remember what the other round was, but by the time I'd finished making them, their Flips I'd served them a minute ago were gone.
NOTE: This was originally posted on 5/19/09, on the Practical Hedonist Blog.