In our experience, most people who say they don’t like eggnog have only experienced pre-made, from-a-carton, no-alcohol eggnog. And that’s really not good eggnog. Don’t get me wrong, you can get okay flavor in some of those… but it’s nothing like an authentic old nog.
And alcohol advertisers liked to encourage you to use their particular brand in your holiday punch. I love the curmudgeonly tone of this ad for Puerto Rican Rum:
Your great-great grandfather demanded rum for his holiday eggnog. RUM. Anything else was heresy.
Then suddenly all sorts of strange nogs began to appear…
“Strange nogs?” Did my great-great grandfather really complain about kids these days and their newfangled notion of putting bourbon into eggnog? (Actually, from what little I know about him, it sounds like that would have been right up his alley.)
In any case, the question of whether alcohol type matters was all too relevant recently when we needed to mix up some holiday cheer, but the only alcohol in the house was bourbon. (Well, there was also some wine on hand, but that was definitely not an option.) We ended up making a last-minute liquor store run — but did we really need to?
So, for Near Year’s this year, we’re going to be doing an eggnog taste test! I’ll use the same basic egg-sugar-cream ratio, and then just vary the alcohol quantity/type… and then drink them all. Note: I recommend pasteurized eggs for any recipe calling for uncooked egg, including these. And now that we’re done with the safety warning, ON TO THE NOGS!
The basic recipe we’re using is:
4 cups cream
4 cups milk
12 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar (added to yolks)
1/2 cup sugar (beaten into egg whites)
3 cups booze of choice
Mix dairy, egg yolks, sugar, and booze. Whip egg whites with sugar until very stiff, then fold into egg yolk mixture. If possible, let sit in the fridge for a few hours. Sprinkle nutmeg on top (don’t mix it in!) for garnish.
This recipe is easy to downscale; we generally find it works out to one egg per serving, and you’ll know best whether your guests are likely to want one or four cups of nog. You can also use less alcohol if desired (or more, although it can get pretty strong). It’s also possible to use rum extract or vanilla extract for an alcohol-free version — teach your kids what real eggnog tastes like without getting them drunk!
2. All Bourbon: When you’ve got nothing else, will this do? Alton Brown thinks so.
3. Bourbon-Rum Mixture: Four Roses thinks you should use their bourbon for your eggnog, but they still tell you to add a little bit of rum. (And they do mean little — one recipe calls for only one ounce of rum to sixteen ounces of bourbon!) Most non-advertising recipes, including one from Buzz’s grandfather, call for this mixture. (We went for a 2/3 bourbon, 2/3 rum mix.)
4. Amaretto: Can a sweet and mild alternative beat the classics?
And the winner?
Rumnog! Amaretto was also pretty good, although it ends up being less boozy and more sweet than some people might like. Both the bourbon-rum blend and straight bourbon were surprisingly harsh; they would work with a smaller volume of alcohol to balance the flavor, potentially, but the bourbon was the least preferred offering of the evening.
I guess great-great-grandpa was right… all these strange “new” nogs are just wannabe imitations!
Hopefully you’ve enjoyed our retro recipes for 2012, and we’re looking forward to serving up further hilarity in 2013. Happy New Year!