The Peanut Malt Flip is the cocktail of the season. Consider it my gift to you.
One way to think of the world of mixed drinks is a kind of graph, with deliciousness on one axis and strangeness on the other. Lumped together on one end of the spectrum are most of the drinks you know, which tend to be very delicious and not at all weird, your Margaritas and Mojitos and Manhattans and such. Travel over to the strange end of the spectrum, and you notice deliciousness begins to suffer—these are your house-smoked bee-pollen syrups and duck fat-washed Negronis. They’re certainly different—novelty is the dragon we mixologists are always chasing—but that difference comes at a cost. The truly delicious terrain, for the most part, has already been mapped.
Enter the Peanut Malt Flip, the cocktail for which that principle is delightfully untrue. It’s a drink that is almost certainly unlike any you’ve ever had before, even if all the individual ingredients are old friends. I suppose it’s all about context: A carton of eggs is a fairly ordinary sight, but produce one behind the bar, and people might look at you sideways. Join it with a jug of milk, and it may raise some eyebrows. Add to that a jar of peanut butter, and your guests will be looking behind you with furrowed brows, trying to figure out if you’re hiding an oven back there, and it is, in my experience, when the you grab the bottle of scotch whisky that people can’t hold it in any longer. “What are you making?,” they’ll ask. That’s when you smile and try not to look devious as you respond with a question of your own: “Do you trust me?”
The Peanut Malt Flip was invented by Angus Winchester in 2006. Winchester would later become famous in booze circles as the Global Brand Ambassador for Tanqueray, but at the time he was a bartender and consultant, and created it for the relaunch of the impossibly elegant M Bar, in Hong Kong’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Part of the bar’s menu was a tribute to the “future” of cocktails, and the team went in search of great and unusual flavor combinations. “We read that single malt whisky and peanut butter share flavor elements,” he says, “we decided to put them together and voilà.”
Voilà indeed. The Peanut Malt Flip is a phenomenal drink and one of my very favorite things to make for people around the holidays. That it sounds bizarre is part of the fun, because it doesn’t taste unusual in the slightest, despite the fact that it has something like 11 g of protein and is essentially a snack. The cream provides richness, the scotch gives it malty body and the egg works as an emulsifier to bring everything harmoniously together. As for the peanut butter, well, the peanut butter is what makes it art.
The crazy thing is that this cocktail almost faded out of existence, nearly lost to time. It’s not in any bar books (as far as I know) and Googling brings up almost nothing. Boston bartending legend Misty Kalkofan put it on a cheeky little egg-centric Easter cocktail menu in 2007 when she was working at Green Street Grille in Cambridge, and after that stuck it on their reserve list, a hundreds-deep book of cocktails that regulars of the bar could consult when they had exhausted that season’s menu. This is where I found it, by sheer luck, as Green Street just happened to be next to my apartment when I lived there. If not for that little fortuitous accident, all my Christmases since would have been without Peanut Malt Flips, and that’s a timeline too dark to entertain.
That brings us here, where it is my great honor to present it to you. “It was the only drink I have ever ‘invented,’” Winchester says, with classic British humility, “that deserved to be made again.”
Peanut Malt Flip
- 2 oz. scotch
- 1 oz. cream
- 0.75 oz. simple syrup
- 1 tbsp. peanut butter
- 1 egg
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker, seal tight, and shake without ice for about five seconds to whip and emulsify the egg. Add ice and shake for 10 to 12 seconds, strain into a large coupe or wine glass and garnish with some freshly grated nutmeg over the top.
NOTES ON INGREDIENTS
Scotch: When I asked him about it, Winchester thinks he remembers that he may have used Talisker, the smoky single malt from the Isle of Skye. That’s about as smoky as I’d dare—save your big brawny Islay bottles for something else. Kalkofan, on the other hand, used Macallan 12 for her Easter menu back in 2007, which is what I gravitate toward. If I had my pick of the litter I’d use a sherried single malt like Macallan. Aberlour is a great choice, as is Glendronach. You can make it with blended scotch if you like, but I recommend a malt—every other ingredient is so full flavored, it’s better if the scotch has the full body of 100 percent malt.
Cream: I usually use half and half, but both that and cream work well. I wouldn’t go leaner—but you run the risk of thinning out the texture more than you’d like. If you can’t do lactose, you can sub in your favorite plant milk, but get it as rich as you can.
Simple Syrup: Equal parts, sugar and water, and stir until the sugar dissolves. Using hot water will make it dissolve faster (30 seconds vs. three to five minutes with room temp water).
Egg: We’ve written about this before—American eggs are largely safe, but you always run a small risk with raw eggs, just as you do with sushi and medium rare hamburgers. I’ve literally never heard of someone getting sick from eggs in cocktails, but if you’re worried about it, use pasteurized in-shell eggs.
Peanut Butter: You want the natural stuff, the jars for which the ingredients are just peanuts and salt. This is not the time for Skippy. It might still work, but Jif and Skippy and all those are sweetened and processed, so they’ll throw off the balance and I can’t promise they’ll integrate into the cocktail in the same way.