I love Eggnog. It is hands down my favorite holiday drink, and easily one of my top five favorite cocktails of all time.
Over the past decade and a half, I’ve become something of an Eggnog evangelist, treating every holiday season as an opportunity to remind the world to drink this delicious libation.
But unlike many self-professed cocktail snobs, I don’t just celebrate the good stuff that we serve at my Portland, Oregon, bars, Clyde Common and Pépé le Moko. No, I like it all; from cheap grocery store Eggnog to my yearly visit to Starbucks for their delicious Eggnog Latte—I’m a voracious Eggnog monster.
I feel strongly that if you’re going to run around telling everyone to drink more Eggnog (as I always do), you should love it in all its forms. Just imagine someone telling you their favorite food is hamburgers, and then learning they’ll only eat the burger from Au Cheval.
As you can imagine, being a professional bartender and a passionate Eggnog enthusiast, I have some suggestions for enjoying my favorite holiday beverage. The following are what I feel to be the four most important elements of a proper glass of Nog.
I know many of you are on the proverbial fence when it comes to Eggnog, and I hope these words offer some help in finding your way to the light.
Many acclaimed chefs and bartenders will tell you that you need to first separate your eggs and whip the whites nearly to meringue before folding them with beaten yolks, sugar and booze for a thick, fluffy Eggnog. This is great if you really feel like drinking a cocktail resembling pancake batter, but I’ve found that texture to be off-putting to guests already predisposed to disliking a glass of Nog. I like to take my Eggnog smooth and silky, with inherent richness—not thickness.
The technique I’ve adopted calls for a blender or stand mixer, but can easily be done with a whisk. Rather than going through the hassle of separating eggs and beating them vigorously, I simply beat them whole, until they’re a uniform texture and ready for the other ingredients. It’s a large-scale version of Jerry Thomas’ single-serving recipe, which at its core is nothing more than a Flip (spirit, whole egg and sugar, finished with nutmeg) with the addition of cream.
Every holiday season, writers for various food publications insist on selling us Eggnog as a warm or even (gag) piping hot Christmas cocktail. It’s true, Eggnog was most likely derived from a 17th-century concoction of ale and eggs, warmed with a hot poker from the fireplace, but let’s be honest, drinks and drinking preferences have changed greatly during the past 400 years.
If you’re going to insist on beating eggs with alcohol and serving the concoction hot, I suggest you look into the Tom & Jerry. This light, fluffy, and warm drink has become conflated with Eggnog over the years. It is a delicious drink in its own right, and is a much better use of warmed, beaten eggs. Call me dogmatic, but I’ll take my cup of Tom & Jerry piping hot, and my glass of Eggnog perfectly chilled.
More than a decade ago, when I was developing the recipe for our now famous tequila-sherry Eggnog at Clyde Common, I wanted to challenge the idea that Eggnog needed to be made with the traditional choices of rum, brandy or bourbon. I always felt Eggnog was a versatile cocktail, a drink that deserved to be enjoyed in many more forms than just one.
I suggest you start with my base recipe below and try making it with a range of different types of alcohol. Aged spirits tend to work best here; so gin, vodka, white rum and silver tequila aren’t always the best choice. Try an aged tequila, cachaça, pisco or a wine-based delicacy such as sherry, Madeira and vermouth.
And don’t be afraid to mix it up! My base recipe calls for four ounces of liquor, but you can easily customize it with two ounces each of two different spirits. Apple brandy and Canadian whisky? Yes please! Note: When splitting the base and using a lower-proof alcohol, such as sherry, I bump up its volume slightly to two-and-a-half ounces.
You’ve probably heard the buzz about aging your Eggnog and either responded with disgust or intense interest. But it’s true aged Eggnog is a thing, it’s perfectly safe (due to its high-alcohol content), and is quite delicious.
I never serve Eggnog unless it’s had—at the very least—an overnight rest. The texture is smoother, creamier and more well incorporated after a day or two in the fridge. However, too far beyond that and you’re not getting much more out of it. I’ve done flights of our Eggnog aged one week, one year and all the way up to a five-year-old. I’ve got to say that the older Nog didn’t have a whole lot more to offer than what you get after a year of aging.
By Jeffrey Morgenthaler
- 2 Large eggs
- 3 oz (by volume) Superfine or baker’s sugar
- 4 oz Liquor
- 6 oz Whole milk
- 4 oz Heavy cream
- Glass: Mug or chilled glass
- Garnish: Whole nutmeg, grated
Beat the eggs in a blender or stand mixer for one minute on low speed. Slowly add the sugar and blend for one additional minute. With the blender still running, add the liquor, milk and cream until combined. Chill thoroughly to allow flavors to combine. Serve in chilled glasses or mugs, and grate nutmeg on top immediately before serving.
For a Manhattan Eggnog, try 2 ounces of a big, rich bourbon with 2.5 ounces of Carpano Antica Formula Sweet Vermouth.
For a Tequila-Sherry Eggnog use 2 ounces of añejo tequila and 2.5 ounces of amontillado sherry.