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Holiday Nog


Eggnog is one of those polarizing things. You either love it or you hate it. Personally, I love it. When I was growing up there was an eggnog tradition in our house at Christmas time. My dad would whip up batches of eggnog in the blender using store bought eggnog, Wild Turkey and vanilla ice cream (always Häagen Dazs!). Of course he would make me a Shirley Temple version without bourbon, but it was still a delicious holiday treat. Now that I’m solidly of drinking age, I’ve started a new eggnog tradition with my husband of making eggnog from scratch. While it requires patience, a hefty chunk of change and precious fridge space (for four weeks!) it is so worth it. We’ve been making this eggnog for almost a decade now and I have to say it has become our favorite holiday tradition. Typically, we make the eggnog on Thanksgiving weekend so that it is ready to drink by Christmas. Since we are hosting Thanksgiving this year we got our batch going early, back in October, so that it will be ready to drink this weekend. We plan to enjoy it with pie after Thanksgiving dinner and whilst trimming our Christmas tree this weekend. Last year we made it very late in the season because we had just moved in early December – but it still turned out fantastic!

The recipe below can be scaled up (or down). Because this is a very simple recipe, there are a few key things. First, make sure all of your glassware is very clean. We age ours in an amber glass gallon jug but you could also use a growler or gallon Mason jar. Second, use the best quality dairy (eggs, milk and cream) you can find. Lastly, one quick note about the recommended liquor choices listed in the recipe. Over the years we have tried different brands of liquor but have firmly settled on our favorite combination (see below). However, feel free to make it your own by using your favorite bourbon, aged rum and/or cognac. Also, should you have any leftover eggnog there are countless ways it can be used up – French toast, crème brulee, cheesecake, boozy milkshakes, cupcakes, or whatever other treats your heart desires. And one more thing about timing – you must let this sit for at least one week in the fridge before drinking, but if you can let it sit untouched for four weeks then you will be handsomely rewarded with a perfectly mellowed holiday nog.

homemade eggnog served on the rocks with freshly grated nutmeg

Best Eggnog (recipe adapted from Chow)

  • 12 large egg yolks (use pasteurized if you prefer)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 quart (4 cups) whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 liter bourbon (preferably Makers Mark)
  • ¾ cup cognac (preferably VSOP)
  • ½ cup dark rum (preferably Meyer’s)
  1. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the milk and cream and whisk well to mix. Add the liquor and whisk again. Carefully pour the mixture into a clean glass gallon container (jug, jar or growler) – a funnel over the bottle opening helps to prevent spilling! Cap the bottle and place in the fridge for 1-4 weeks. If your glass bottle is clear, cover it with foil to keep it dark (we use an amber glass jug). Every other day give the jug a good mix by gently shaking and inverting several times.
  2. To serve, pour four ounces over an ice filled lowball glass. Top with lots of freshly grated nutmeg. Cheers!
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Dior Kelley

Dior was born in Hawaii and spent her childhood in many wonderfully inspiring places including New Zealand, Sri Lanka and California. She studied Chemistry and Printmaking at UC Santa Cruz and got her PhD in Plant Biology from UC Davis. Her love for experimentation and precision (she studies hormone signaling in plants) carry over into crafted cocktails and homemade delights. Currently, she lives in Iowa with her husband, French Bulldog and a flock of hens.

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