Eggnog is one of the few parts of the Christmas ritual designed for adults. This may not be the most refreshing thing about it, but the drink definitely provides a welcome respite from shopping, tree trimming and ubiquitous commercial insanity.
Like most drinks, its precise origins are mysterious, although it likely developed in England and migrated here with the colonists. From the beginning it was aristocratic in nature—milk and eggs were no less expensive than the brandy, rum or Madeira added to the cocktail during its preparation. Eggnog’s appeal today is seasonal but strong, although the brands available at your local supermarket require the addition of alcohol to make it authentic.
I’ve been running the following recipe every year since this blog began. It comes from my friend Merritt Rathje, a local wine and spirits broker, and it will produce the finest eggnog in the land. Supposedly, it was George Washington’s recipe as well. It’s time consuming and expensive, but worth it. Don’t plan on driving anywhere after drinking several glasses of this stuff:
- 1 quart cream
- 1 quart milk
- 1 dozen eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 pint brandy or Cognac
- 1/2 pint Rye whiskey
- 1/4 pint dark rum
- 1/4 pint Sherry
- Mix the liquor first.
- Separate the egg whites and yolks, and add sugar to the beaten yolks; mix well.
- Add the liquor mixture drop by drop at first while beating slowly; add the milk and cream and continue slowly beating everything together. Beat egg whites until stiff, and fold slowly into the mixture.
- Let set in a cool place for seven days, and taste frequently.
His recipe doesn’t mention nutmeg, but if you want to be authentic, buy some fresh nutmeg and a nutmeg grater and do it right. Life is but once.
Mark Spivak is the author of Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History (Lyons Press, 2012) and Moonshine Natiion (Lyons Press, 2014); for more information, go to amazon.com