A little over two weeks ago I embarked upon a wonderful journey that likely committed irreparable harm to my liver, cholesterol, general sense of self, sense of direction, or at the very least, my waistline. But, “tis the season,” or so they say.
I can say now, unequivocally, that I am no longer lost in the world of homemade eggnog. In fact, I feel pretty comfortable whipping up a batch from memory alone at this point. I’ve tried several variations upon the central theme originally mastered by experienced bartender Jeffrey Morganthaler. Definitely head over to his site for the original recipe and some important insight into making the best homemade stuff around. I’ve changed his recipe just a little bit to suit my own tastes, and converted the measurements to accommodate my measuring instruments (see below).
Eggnog (Makes four large servings)
6 TBS Sugar;
1 tsp fresh grated nutmeg (which means grating about half a nutmeg if you’re eyeballing it), plus more for garnish;
1/2 Cup Brandy;
1/2 Cup Spiced Rum;
1.5 Cups Whole Milk; and
1 Cup Heavy Cream.
Add separate ingredients one at a time, blending for about a minute after each addition. After adding and blending the booze, I like to let the mixture chill for about 30 minutes before diluting it with the milk and cream and blending one last time. Knowing that the alcohol can kill salmonella, I feel like giving it a little time to sit together in this concentrated form can only help reduce the risk. At least, there is some serious truthiness to that logic. [Note: I say this as someone who knows absolutely nothing about microbiology. Assume this hunch of mine is wrong, and probably reckless too.]
Serve in a chilled tumbler.
For the sake of being thorough – or just an excuse to drink more, I’ll let you make that call – I made several batches featuring different types of liquor throughout this process. First, I started with the Brandy and Spiced Rum combination Morgathaler suggests above. Next up I replaced the Brandy with Bourbon for a Bourbon and Spiced Rum batch. Finally, I went for an all-Bourbon batch.
The All-Bourbon Eggnog Review:
In short, this batch was the best of the bunch. However, that statement comes with a rather important caveat: This holds true if you happen to really like Bourbon. Natalie likes Bourbon, but lost her love for it when she was pregnant with Ruthie (nothing like gestating to make you lose your booze edge…). Now it is almost overwhelming to her at full-strength. And despite all the fatty fatness and nutmeggery that completes the Eggnog, a good, strong Bourbon (Bulleit, which we used, is 90 proof) will hold it’s character and flavor in this drink.
The first variation – Brandy and Spiced Rum – is great for the reason that it tastes like Eggnog. Period. The two liquors combine to leave the drinker almost unsure of what spirit is poisoning their liver. You just know it tastes really damn good and you stop asking questions after that.
The all-Bourbon version, on the other hand, is definable and recognizable. Bourbon drinkers – yours truly included – will love this about it. Others might not. Despite its velvety smoothness, the all-Bourbon version might seem “harsh” to those not keen on Bourbon itself. Again, a good Bourbon is usually a little stronger than your average spirit, and thus the regular measurements leave the Eggnog more potent than you originally planned (and you planned on it being pretty strong if you made the above recipe).
And I can appreciate that. Eggnog, to me, isn’t so much about enjoying the spirit involved as it is enjoying the cocktail itself and the vibe it brings.
So the all-Bourbon batch was best. But maybe I’m not always looking for best. Maybe sometimes I’m looking for tradition and comfort. Sometimes I don’t need to be thinking about Bourbon. Sometimes I just want to be thinking about Eggnog.
Those times are rare, indeed. But they do happen.
Thanks to Margaret @ SlowMama.com for setting me down this experimental path. I hope this helps clarify your Eggnog plans this Christmas.