OF ALL TIME
Just fat, alcohol and cholesterol and it’s oh, so good
BY: NICK WILLIAMS
If you do one thing this holiday season - one labor-intensive, time-consuming, extraordinarily unhealthy thing - you should make and consume Eggnog from scratch.
Provided, of course, that you like Eggnog. Not everybody does, and even though I am totally pro-nog I will briefly emerge from my fortress of righteous and unassailable opinions to magnanimously admit that if you don’t like Eggnog, I get it. It’s thick and viscous and weird and seems like it could kill you, which it definitely would if you made it a regular part of your life.
But in moderation, homemade eggnog is a rich, creamy, and fucking delicious dose of holiday indulgence, one that every proud member of Team Nog should experience at least once.
The main differences between homemade Eggnog and buying a carton at the bodega is that pre-packaged Eggnogs do not contain:
A) Raw eggs (yum!)
B) Alcohol (yummier!).
Eggnog without booze...well, that ain’t Eggnog, amigos. Strong, fiery liquor is an essential part of the nog-lifestyle, and has been since time immemorial.
The origins of Eggnog are hazy, but most people agree that its history is wrapped up in British tavern life of the 17th century, where the only thing to do besides work and die was to get hammered on cold, misty nights. From an etymological perspective, eggnog probably came from egg-n-grog, a practice of whipping egg yolks into the warmed rum concoction known as grog. The drink became a Christmas tradition in the nascent United States, apocryphally popularized by a certain fellow named George Washington. Rum remained the spirit of choice for decades, although Brandy, Sherry, and Bourbon have all enjoyed periods of being Top Choice Nog Spiker.
Guess what, readers? I don’t like choosing between Rum, Brandy, Sherry, and Bourbon, so we are going to use all four!
Which brings us to our recipe, a variation of one first prepared for me by my brother-in-law Matt Elia, bartender extraordinaire at San Francisco’s Tiki ground-zero The Tonga Room. He adapted his recipe from a 1958 New York Times article by the venerable Craig Claiborne, who knew his way around a liquor cabinet. Matt whipped up a batch on the first Christmas morning I spent with my wife’s family, and after one sip I knew that I had made a wise choice in life partners.
Friends, I’m not going to lie to you - this recipe is terrifying.
It takes forever, it involves tons of planning, and the end result is legitimately the most unhealthy thing you could ever possibly put in your body, an uncannily thick amalgam of strong drink and pure cholesterol. It is also knee-weakeningly, mind-shatteringly, life-alteringly delicious, a distillation of pure pleasure and joyous, drunken gluttony. Ready?
A note before we begin:
In a sane world, this recipe makes enough eggnog for like 40 people. I think a shot-glass full is the largest amount any doctor would ever recommend you consume at one time, but we are bold and brash and have but one life to live, so share this batch with ten or fifteen of your closest friends.
Some recipes might suggest thinning your nog with a cup or two milk, but fuck all that, we want to be able to stand a spoon up in that thang.
You will need:
12 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup Bourbon (nothing fancy, I like Old Grandad)
½ cup Brandy or Cognac (just use something cheap)
½ cup Gold Rum (I like Plantation 5 Year)
½ cup Amontillado Sherry (Lustau is fine)
½ tsp salt
3 cups heavy cream
1 whole nutmeg
Separate the eggs, and slowly beat the yolks with the sugar, ideally with an electric hand mixer and less ideally with your own iron-muscled arm. As you beat the yolks, slowly add the Bourbon, Cognac, Rum, and Sherry. When the mixture has thickened somewhat, stick it in the fridge for 2-4 hours.
Add the salt to the egg whites, and beat until ALMOST stiff. We want soft peaks here, not jagged mountains of albumin.
Whip the cream until stiff. Oh yeah, did I mention that this has whipped cream in it?
Gently fold the whipped cream into the yolk/booze mixture, and then gently fold in the egg whites. When you’ve reached a uniform, creamy consistency, stick that sucker back in the fridge for at least one hour.
To serve, choose the drinking vessels of your choice and ladle out the nog. Using a microplane, grate a bit of nutmeg over each glass, and garnish with a small sprig of mint, for no reason other than that it looks pretty. Provide a spoon for each nog drinker.
You’ve done it, you glorious person! Settle in for some exquisite holiday cheer followed immediately by a deep and dreamless nog-coma.
NICK WILLIAMS is the resident alcohol connoisseur for ciaooo! magazine and infinitely cooler than most of us. You can follow him on Instagram @theenickwilliams.