Minimalist Tiki

Cocktail recipe: Secret Santa Flip is festive fun any time of year

During my recent holiday binge journey through all the cocktails on the Miracle pop-up bar menu, I was inspired to play around with various seasonal recipes in my home bar. I tried several formats, but I was most smitten by the concept of the flip.
See below: Go straight to the recipe

The Gingerbread Flip at West Palm Beach's Miracle on Rosemary from Death or Glory. (Atomic Grog photo, December 2018)
The Gingerbread Flip at West Palm Beach’s Miracle on Rosemary from Death or Glory. (Atomic Grog photo, December 2018)

Traditionally, a flip is a cocktail containing egg, sugar and a spirit. They’re similar to egg nogs but without milk or cream. Originally served hot, flips are now usually shaken with ice and strained into a chilled coupe or wine glass and dusted with nutmeg, according to Difford’s Guide. The first flips can be traced back to England in the late 1600s.

Back in 2015, I created the Demerara Flip for the holidays and was pleased with the results. At Miracle, the delicious Gingerbread Flip was reminiscent. It was a shaken drink featured bourbon, gingerbread syrup, Elemakule Tiki Bitters and a whole egg. It was served in a coupe with a dusting of nutmeg. I understand that the use of a whole egg can put some guests off, hence the drink’s transformation into the Gingerbread Old Fashioned at Death Or Glory’s two Miracle bars that I frequented.

I’m not opposed to eggs in cocktails, but I decided to drop the yolk and keep the white, which is much more common in modern recipes. So the Secret Santa is not strictly a flip, but it has all the same hallmarks. The use of the rich mixes makes up for the missing yolk, and the unpasteurized white adds that traditional foamy head and texture while not imparting any flavor. If cracking an egg to extract the white makes you squeamish, you can find pasteurized egg whites in a carton in most groceries.

The impetus for the recipe was actually the BG Reynolds syrups, particularly the new honey and Gardenia mixes gifted to me by Blair Reynolds after his fall visit to The Mai-Kai. [Photo: Reynolds gets his first Mystery Drink] I’ve always been a fan of his products and have recommended them often in previous posts. Below the recipe you’ll find my quick takes on Reynolds’ newest creations. [Also: Hear Reynolds on the Bartender At Large podcast]

Modern Caribbean Rum
New BG Reynolds syrups are sampled at The Mai-Kai in October 2018. (Atomic Grog photo)
New BG Reynolds syrups are sampled at The Mai-Kai in October 2018. (Atomic Grog photo)

The Gardenia Mix was designed as a one-stop-shop for one of Don the Beachcomber’s most complicated (and messy) mixes (aka Pearl Diver’s mix and Coffee Grog batter). It replaces the butter with coconut, but includes the key honey, cinnamon and allspice flavors. I sought a bit more rich honey and allspice notes, so I also used Reynolds’ new Orange Blossom Honey Mix and his now-retired Tiki Spices (another old Donn Beach ingredient featuring allspice and vanilla, aka Don’s Spices #2).

I posted the recipe on the BG Reynolds’ Tiki Bar group on Facebook, where members discuss the products and share classic and new recipes. The Secret Santa Flip is very flexible, however, and you can make your own honey and Don’s Spices #2 (or simply use allspice dram) if those bottles aren’t in your arsenal.

There’s also an alternate version that uses homemade Pearl Diver’s mix in place of all three bottles. The butter gives it a slightly different flavor, but it’s perfectly in keeping with the holiday spirit (think Hot Buttered Rum).

The beauty of the Secret Santa Flip, however, is the ability to employ different rums, whiskeys and bitters to create an almost endless array of flavors. See the notes below for some ideas.

Secret Santa Flip by The Atomic Grog

(By Hurricane Hayward, The Atomic Grog)

* 3/4 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice
* 1/2 ounce BG Reynolds Orange Blossom Honey Mix ***
* 1/2 ounce BG Reynolds Gardenia Mix ***
* 1/8 ounce BG Reynolds Tiki Spices (or sub allspice dram) ***
* 1 ounce dark Jamaican or Demerara rum
* 1 ounce rye or bourbon whiskey
* 1 medium or large egg white
* 6-8 drops bitters

Method: Dry shake egg white for 20-30 seconds. Add one cup of ice along with other ingredients, except bitters. Shake vigorously for at least 20 seconds. Strain into a chilled coupe. Gently apply drops of bitters to foamy head (or, if you prefer, just add 1-2 dashes of bitters before shaking).

*** Variation: If you don’t have the BG Reynolds mixes and/or want to experiment: Substitute 1 ounce of Don the Beachcomber’s Pearl Diver’s mix (see notes below).


The lime adds a sour element for balance while the syrups create the backbone of this drink, along with the egg that gives it that flip consistency. Stick as closely as you can to the proportions above.

A Pearl Diver featuring BG Reynolds Gardenia Mix. Pearl Diver glass from Cocktail Kingdom's Beachbum Berry collection. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)
A Pearl Diver featuring BG Reynolds Gardenia Mix. Pearl Diver glass from Cocktail Kingdom’s Beachbum Berry collection. (Photo by Hurricane Hayward)

BG Reynolds mixes: I was pleased with both of the new products. You can always make your own rich honey mix (2 parts honey to one part water, mixed and chilled) but I can see the usefulness of having this shelf-stable bottle always at your fingertips. Fresh honey mix can go bad, and not everyone has access to great orange blossom honey like we do here in Florida. The BG Reynolds honey mix compared favorably to my own 2:1 mix using a local craft honey. It wasn’t as rich but featured a nice citrus note from a touch of tangerine oil. The Gardenia Mix, named for Don the Beachcomber’s Mystery Gardenia, lacks the richness and mouthfeel of the butter but it hits all of the other notes central to Donn Beach’s mix. The similar flavors and ease of use make this a no-brainer for home Tiki bartenders who want to impress guests with a classic Pearl Diver or Coffee Grog and skip the mess of making the mix themselves. Tiki Spices is an older product (currently out of stock) that accurately duplicates the allspice and vanilla of Don’s Spices #2. It’s heavy on the spice, so an allpsice dram (aka pimento liqueur) such as St. Elizabeth would also work fine in this recipe. Or make your own 1-to-1 mix if you happen to have the liqueur plus vanilla syrup.

Pearl Diver’s mix: This classic but obscure ingredient was created by Donn Beach for his Pearl Diver cocktail in the late 1930s. [Check out the recipe and our review here] It was revealed by Jeff “Beachbum” Berry in his seminal book, Sippin’ Safari, in 2007. Be sure to pick up the hardcover 10th anniversary edition from Cocktail Kingdom featuring new recipes, graphics and updated info. The recipe:
* Cream 1 ounce softened sweet unsalted butter and 1 ounce orange blossom honey with 1 teaspoon cinnamon-infused sugar syrup and 1/2 teaspoon each vanilla syrup and pimento liqueur. Prepare just before using, whisking well. Heat the butter in the microwave if necessary, but let the mix cool to room temperature before using. It will become a sticky mess in your blender if you refrigerate, so make only what you need. When made properly, this mix is unbeatable, but you can see the appeal of the bottled Gardenia Mix.

The spirits and bitters: The fun part of this recipe is the ability to mix and match rums, whiskeys and bitters. Or add a “Secret Santa” twist and pull different combinations out of a hat. I would just lean toward big bold (overproof) rums and whiskeys so the flavors pop. And stick to traditional spicy bitters. Among my favorite combinations that I tried:
* Plantation O.F.T.D. (138 proof), Knob Creek 100-proof bourbon and Fee’s Whiskey Barrel Bitters.
* Lemon Hart 151, Maker’s Mark 90-proof bourbon and Elemakule Tiki Bitters.
* El Dorado 12, Buffalo Trace 90-proof bourbon, and Fee’s Old Fashioned Bitters.
* Smith & Cross Traditional Jamaica Rum (114 proof), Bulleit 95 Rye, and “herbstura” (equal parts Herbsaint and Angostura Bitters).

Okole maluna!

More winter cocktail recipes
* Allspicy Daiquiri (The Atomic Grog original)
* Chocolate Snowflake (The Mai-Kai tribute)
* Demerara Flip (The Atomic Grog original)
* Devil’s Island Daiquiri (Jeff “Beachbum” Berry original)
* Hapa Holidaze (The Atomic Grog original)
* Hot Buttered Rum (The Mai-Kai tribute)
* Kona Coffee Grog (Don the Beachcomber)
* Mai-Kai Blizzard (The Mai-Kai tribute)
* Martinique Milk Punch (Standard recipe plus The Mai-Kai tribute)
* Winter Daiquiri (Mindy Kucan of Hale Pele)

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