The hip flask began to appear in the form recognized today in the 18th century, initially used by members of the gentry. However, less compact versions had been in production for several centuries. Notably, in the Middle Ages, there are several accounts of gutted fruit being used to store liquor. During the 18th century, women boarding docked British warships would smuggle gin into the ship via makeshift flasks, created from pig’s bladders and hidden inside their petticoats. Following the act of prohibition in 1920s America, the state of Indiana banned the sale of cocktail shakers and hip flasks.
Antique hip flasks, particularly those made of silver, are now sought-after collector’s items. The hip flask appears frequently in comedy, in part because it allows drinking in inappropriate situations where a bottle would not be found–for instance, in Two and a Half Men, where Charlie Harper (Charlie Sheen) drinks alcohol from a hip flask during a funeral.