Thanksgiving was once again the unofficial opening weekend for eggnog (egg nog is also acceptable) which means it is time for my annual rant against the gag-inducing holiday cocktail of creamy alcoholic milk, egg and booze cocktail.
We don’t know for certain the origins of eggnog. Commonly accepted history credits the British for drinking warm, curdled milk, wine and spice drink called “posset” that evolved into eggnog in the Americas in the middle of the 1700s. It sounds like a dare that went too far.
“Hey William, I dare you to drink this weird milk.”
“No way, Nellie!”
“C’mon, William! I’ll put an egg in it…”
To make modern eggnog, you obviously need eggs. In some recipes they only use the egg whites. In others they only use the yolks. The eggs are whipped free of their sins until frothy, and mixed with thick whipping cream, milk, sugar, vanilla, booze, and any spices that are to your preference. Most often the alcohol is brandy or whiskey, but spiced or dark rum can be used in a pinch. It is an elaborate recipe that is best made in large quantities.
If you do decide to make eggnog because you’ve suffered a mental break or you’re married to someone who feels some sort of romantic holiday nostalgia by drinking something that looks like Elmer’s Glue, I recommend putting it in the refrigerator for 24 hours to make sure it is thoroughly chilled. I hope the cold will help mask the taste because, and I believe this with all of my heart, eggnog is gross.
Unless you are trying to win a bet with your college roommate or you’re making a Tik-Tok video for your application to the 76th World Championships for Bodybuilding, Fitness and Fitness challenges there is no reason to be drinking raw eggs. Side note: How long until all of our job applications are just collections of our social media output?
And yet, eggnog lovers are passionate advocates for the drink. Every major dairy in the country makes pre-made, nonalcoholic eggnog you can take home in a milk carton. In non-pandemic years I have to distract my wife from the dairy section of the grocery store by pointing out the frosted candy cane-shaped cookies in the bakery.
Never have I gone to a family winter holiday party without seeing the big punch bowl filled with what appears to be some sort of frosting and gravy dusted with nutmeg. I stopped pretending to like it years ago, but no doubt some Uncle will slap me on the back before insisting I try it. “You’ll like this one. I made it!”
I’ll let myself be talked into tasting just a touch in hopes of being left alone with my paper plate covered in mashed potatoes and sugar cookies. “See!” says Uncle So-and-So, and let them misinterpret my grimace for a smile. In the Midwest, they ratchet up the brandy-to-egg ratio, like really ratchet it up, so at least there is that. Even so, hours later the ghost of eggnog present still tickles my lips. Taunting me.
When it comes to holiday drinks, I’m all for wassail — which is a hot mulled cider — or a Gluhwein, the traditional hot Austrian spiced wine drink. Meadiocrity Mead just released their spiced, honey-based mead variation called Gluhmet, which I recommend drinking hot. I’m open to trying new things, even drinks with a candy cane sticking out of them, but eggnog is where I draw my line in the snow. Eggnog is gross. Prove me wrong.
If you disagree or want to find out for yourself, here is a simple do-it-yourself recipe.
- 12 large egg yolks (pasteurized)
- 1 pound granulated sugar
- 1 quart milk
- 1 quart whipped heavy cream
- 1 liter of booze: Brandy recommended, but dark rum, bourbon, or whiskey will do just fine.
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Nutmeg, All-Spice, Cinnamon, and/or Clove spices to taste
- Start whipping the egg yolks in a bowl.*
- Add the sugar as you whip those eggs, and keep whipping until the mix thickens like porridge
- Stir in the booze.
- Stir in the milk.
- Chill for at least three hours, but I recommend overnight.
- Fold in heavy whipped cream. This just means using a spatula to blend the chilled mix and the heavy cream together.
- Dust with your chosen spices to taste.
*This is where I should point out that store bought eggnog has likely been pasteurized. If you decide to make it at home, be sure to use pasteurized eggs or make sure you’ve heated your egg base to at least a 160° to prevent any salmonella from forming.
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