The holiday season has arrived and that means a perennial (and polarizing) holiday treat is back — eggnog! As hot apple ciders cede their position of power on top of the pyramid of holiday cheer, the nog seemingly comes out of nowhere, entreating holiday revelers with a bounty of sweetness and calories. Originally known as egg milk punch, or just milk punch, eggnog has been part of holiday traditions across the world for centuries. A mix of cream, egg whites, egg yolks, sugar, and booze, eggnog is a heavy, delicious treat when you need to warm your bones.
Eggnog is a rich and full beverage on its own, but in our opinion, it is much, much better when booze has been added. First, we’ll go over how to make your own eggnog (or what types of brands to look for), then we’ll get into what booze goes best in one’s eggnog.
Before we get to the specifics, though, we thought it important to talk about the latter half of the word — nog. Not only is it fun to say (try it), but the word nog has been popping up in the English language since the 1690s when, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, it was “a kind of strong beer brewed in East Anglia.” An alternative definition (and one that also goes along with the current definition) is that nog is a derivative of “noggin,” which was a Middle English term for a drinking vessel.
Either way, fun to say. Now, back to the matter at hand.
What to Mix with Eggnog
You should typically stick with dark, amber-colored spirits with a higher proof. With these, the higher alcohol content will neutralize some of the egg nog’s sweetness. In turn, the other flavors in your eggnog will overpower the nuances of premium liquor, so there’s also no need to reach for the highest of the top shelves. Simply add a shot of reasonably priced, high-proofed booze and stir it well.
What Alcohol Goes Best in Eggnog
- Aged rum
- Irish whiskey
- Blended Scotch whisky
Additional Ingredients to Liven Up Your Eggnog
Once you mix your eggnog and liquor — and add a dusting of nutmeg — you’re all set to enjoy your festive beverage. To make your eggnog eggs-tra special, however, consider some of these traditional additions (which are especially important if you’re using store-bought nog):
- Cordials: Ginger liqueur, peppermint schnapps, white chocolate liqueur
- Spices: More nutmeg, cloves, allspice, cinnamon, vanilla extract
- Other goodies: Coffee (highly recommended), light brown sugar, chocolate syrup, maple syrup
Feel free to play around with all sorts of eggnog concoctions. If you like it, it can’t be wrong, right? We advise against going overboard with ingredients, though. Instead, select one or two items from each category and try different combinations — ideally not all in one night.
How to Make Eggnog
We understand if you’re too lazy — or too hungover — to make your own ‘nog from scratch. Any store-bought eggnog will work with the ingredients below, but shooting for a higher quality is always a good bet. If you’re having trouble deciding, we suggest trying Organic Valley’s Eggnog or another fresh, local brand in your area.
If you are feeling adventurous (or like you have to step up your game to shut Steve from 2A up about his homemade hard cider), making eggnog is pretty simple to make. Check out our basic recipe below, which serves 10-12. One thing to note: eggnog is a very rich drink. If you’re looking to cut calories around the holidays, you’re going to want to look elsewhere.
- 12 large eggs
- 8 cups whole milk
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream*
- 1.5 cups white granulated sugar
- .5 tsp salt
- 2.25 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
Method: In a saucepan, whisk together eggs, sugar, and salt. Slowly add the first 4 cups of milk to cook. Stir over low heat for about 30 minutes (or until the temperature reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit). Do not let the mixture boil. Once the temperature has been reached, transfer to a bowl and stir in the vanilla, spices, and the rest of the milk. Place the bowl in an ice bath and stir until cool. Transfer to the refrigerator until chilled. When ready to serve, beat the whipping cream until soft peaks form. Whisk cream into the rest of the liquid. Garnish with additional nutmeg.
*Note: Some recipes call for using egg whites for whipping. We use heavy cream because we’ve found it to be easier to prepare when needing to make multiple batches (as opposed to separating egg whites and yolks).
How to Make Spiked Eggnog
More than likely, you’re here because you want to know how to make eggnog boozy AF. We hear you — we think eggnog is better when it gets those oak, vanilla, and caramel flavors of a bourbon cutting through the thick cream like an icebreaker in the Arctic, too. The question then, is how much booze do you put into a pitcher of eggnog and when? The short answer is as much as you want and after the eggnog is ready, but for the sticklers out there, we’ve broken it down below.
With a spirit that falls into the 40-50 percent ABV area (we’re talking most whiskies, rums, brandies, et cetera), you’re going to want to have around 1.5 ounces per serving (you could do 1 ounce, but it’s the holidays … live a little). With the recipe above accommodating 10 servings, you’re looking at about 15 ounces of spirit (a little more than half of a standard 750 ml bottle of alcohol). If you’re using a stronger spirit (such as a barrel-proof bourbon or rye), then you’ll want to cut that back — no one at the party wants Aunt Mildred throwing up eggnog because she can’t hold her whiskey.
If you plan to use cordials, liqueurs, or other liquids, you’ll also need to adjust the amount of the base spirit that you’re using. Say you wanted to make a ginger bourbon eggnog. You’d use the recipe above, then add:
- 12 oz bourbon
- 3 oz ginger liqueur (such as Domaine de Canton)
- Ground ginger, optional for garnish
You want the flavor of the liqueur to show up, but to act in a supporting role and not take over as the star of the show. You can, of course, adjust from there to taste, but it’s always easier to add more of something than to take it away.