Thursday, December 16

Christmastime means Eggnog time.

So I'll be taking a brief break from the Old Mr. Boston to bring you an holiday favorite: Eggnog. If you are anything like my lovely girlfriend, you're probably recoiling in fear at the very mention. I can only imagine the horrors to which you have been subjected; stuff from a carton, warmed on a radiator, curdled whatever...I'm here to tell you, real Eggnog, like any real cocktail, is delicious and delightful. And very much Christmas to me.

I think this drink has been subjected to the same indignities of a lot of classic cocktails. Like the Daiquiri, the Margarita, the Martini, the Mai Tai, when something is delicious and perfect, it will be popular, which means that enterprising bars or, umm, milk companies, will take it upon themselves to profit. The easiest way to profit? Shortcuts.

Lime juice? Simple Syrup? Smash those two together and make Margarita mix. But instead of lime juice, let's use lime flavoring and acerbic acid, because limes (and, by extension, lime juice) are expensive and go bad. Oh, and cram some preservatives in there to make sure it will keep for six months on the shelf. It's not sweet enough. Americans like sweet things. More sugar. Just add some Tequila, and presto, the finest drink ever created! Thanks a lot, Mr. Cuervo.

I think Eggnog has suffered the same fate. You want to put this drink into a carton, pasteurize it so it will keep for a month, and then sell it everywhere. Only one problem, and it's the one that the food industry seems to never realize: fresh tastes better. Preservatives taste bad, and aren't particularly good for you, either. But as a result, because it's there and it's easy, most Americans haven't ever had good Eggnog. Just the stuff that comes in the carton. Just add your favorite liquor!

I'll admit that, coming into the Eggnog experience about two years ago, I was an Eggnog virgin. I'd never tasted any of it, anywhere, and had no psychological links between Eggnog and Christmas. Then I tried this recipe, from the great Jeffrey Morgenthaler, and I really, really enjoyed the drink. Not as some festive, nostalgic thing that comes around this time of year, but as a really genuinely delicious, balanced drink. Truly, delicious. If you have preconceptions about Eggnog, you're probably not going to like it no matter what I say, but I'd urge you to give it a try, fresh, to see if it can be salvaged. But as with anything that's survived for this long, there are a lot of variations. A quick page through Old Mr. Boston gives about 8 recipes for different Eggnogs. The one I'll be using until I find something more delicious is below, and it's easy enough to make using only a household blender, or a shaker and a lot of time and strength. Whichever you'd prefer.

Morgenthaler's Eggnog:
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 oz. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg
  • 4 oz. heavy whipping cream
  • 6 oz. whole milk
  • 2 oz. brandy
  • 2 oz. spiced rum
Blend the eggs on medium for one minute. Continue to blend for another minute, adding the sugar. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until combined. Refrigerate until chilled to allow the flavors to gel. Serve in a chilled wine glass and garnish with more grated nutmeg.

The recipe above yields a lot. I triple it, and it fills a 2-quart container. Mr. Morgenthaler suggests that this will give you two healthy servings. I'd say, emphasis on "healthy." It's good though. I'm pretty sure that if you keep it refrigerated, it should last for quite a while, given the alcohol and, well, the pasteurized nature of most of the ingredients. At least a week. So make up a pitcher and enjoy by the fire as the snow begins to fall, and repeat as necessary!


  1. Man thanks for this post. I love eggnog and usually go through couple cartons (yes, cartons from the milk company). Now I know. I'm going to give your recipe a shot and probably never be satisfied with grocery store variety again. I can believe the real recipe has raw eggs in it. Gotta get over that first. Ha

  2. Yeah, I guess I'm only now realizing that this is the first recipe I've ever posted with egg in it. It's something that I don't think twice about anymore, but at one point it freaked me out, too. But thanks to the salmonella scare a few years back (and the subsequent steps taken by most producers to eliminate it), the odds of getting a bad egg are now vanishingly small. And if that's not enough, alcohol is a pretty good antiseptic...