Who wouldn’t want a glass of custard, meringue, and whipped cream? That’s what this homemade traditional eggnog is like — plus a little booze. You’ll never look back!
Eggnog: do you love it or hate it?
The traditional winter drink is one of those divisive foods like cilantro or mayonnaise you rarely find a middle ground on. I can’t count the number of people who recoil at the word “eggnog.”
Even my husband says the word just sounds unappealing, like egg-snot. Gross, Mike.
He just doesn’t like the word “nog”.
As a side note, apparently the origin of “nog” in “eggnog” is debated: it’s either short for “noggin”, which is the type of mug it would have originally been served in, or it is a compounded version of egg-‘n’-grog, the “grog” being slang for rum.
You can read more on the word origin here and on my favorite word-origin website, the Word Detective. You have to scroll down a little to get to the eggnog entry, which is titled “Stand back! Give the man some strudel!”
And it’s kind of weird to have the word “egg” in the name of a drink. It makes you think of breakfast, not an amazingly delicious holiday beverage.
After all, you don’t call custard “egg-cream”, and meringue sounds so much lovelier than egg-froth.
So eggnog it is, unless you’d rather call it milk-punch, which is a viable alternative, although that sounds like a bizarre before-bed drink for children rather than breakfast. Take your pick.
Alas, it’s not simply the name that most people take offense with – it’s the flavor.
But I have a theory.
I think most of those people have never had it homemade — and certainly not this life-changing recipe.
Now, I love a good eggnog. I, unlike many, also love a mediocre eggnog.
But storebought simply doesn’t hold a candle to this traditional eggnog recipe.
I’ve converted even some of the most staunch anti-eggnog folks with a glass of this homemade traditional eggnog.
Remember my earlier references to custard and meringue? Two of the most classic and celebrated dessert components? Well, add whipped cream and that’s basically what this recipe is.
Seriously, who could argue with a glass of custard, meringue, and whipped cream, spiked with rum and sprinkled with nutmeg?
Nobody, that’s who.
This traditional eggnog is like a boozy, custardy milkshake, and when you pour it you get a nice little foamy froth on top. Just heavenly. It’s really the best.
Let’s get a couple things out of the way before I go on.
This eggnog contains raw eggs
It is, after all, a traditional eggnog, not a modernized concerned-about-raw-eggs version.
I’ll go ahead and say if you are not comfortable with this, or if you’re pregnant, very young, elderly, or have a weakened immune system, you may not want to drink this. If you’re pregnant or very young you shouldn’t be drinking spiked beverages anyway.
The FDA recommends not eating raw or undercooked eggs. And my mother-in-law won’t touch this stuff (or sushi, or rare steak).
There is a chance you could get salmonella from ingesting a raw egg, and there are plenty of recipes out there for cooked eggnog. I may even develop one in the future. So if you get sick, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
But the chances are very low, for two reasons.
One, according to incredibleegg.org, there is a 1 in 20,000 chance of an egg in the US containing salmonella. Even then, most are strains that would require eating quite a bit of it before you would get sick.
Two, the alcohol in this traditional eggnog has the potential to kill off much of any bacteria that may be present. So if you needed an excuse NOT to skip the rum in this recipe, there you go.
Many people actually age the eggnog for up to six weeks before drinking it too, which is also a traditional thing to do. Because the alcohol doesn’t kill the bacteria immediately – it takes a little time.
And for this purpose, the more alcohol present, the better. Hah!
You can read this article about a small experiment that microbiologists Vincent Fischetti and Raymond Schuch from The Rockefeller University did on eggnog. First they cultured the bacteria in homemade vs storebought eggnog – while the storebought version was teeming with bacteria after a day, the homemade version was sterile.
Then, they made a vat of spiked eggnog (20% rum and bourbon), intentionally added salmonella to it (1000x the amount you might find in a single contaminated egg), and then aged it. Twenty-four hours didn’t do the trick for that outrageous amount of bacteria, but aging it between one and three weeks did. Watch the video here.
This particular recipe is “aged” for about four hours, which is more than those 10-minute eggnog recipes you might see circulating the Internet, but not quite at make-it-at-Thanksgiving-to-prepare-for-Christmas status.
Aging your eggnog before drinking it has a twofold effect – helping kill off some of that unlikely but possible bacteria, and also helping mellow and meld the flavors, creating a more rounded cocktail that tastes like eggnog and not like sweetened milk and eggs.
This is not a health drink
Can I say that again? This is NOT, I repeat, NOT, a healthy drink.
This is not a skinny version of the traditional eggnog. This is not a low-sugar, low-calorie, or low-fat variation. This is the original, classic version.
I got this recipe from my brother-in-law who had an annual nog party featuring a gallon of this stuff.
He sent me the plain-text, unformatted, no-links webpage containing the recipe (and only the recipe) so I could make it. The webpage stated that it was essentially the recipe from the Joy of Cooking, although I haven’t confirmed that by looking at a copy. It’s Julia Child. It’s full of heavy cream and lots of sugar. It’s a dessert, not a beverage.
I’ll tell you — I followed the recipe and made a gallon for my own eggnog Christmas party, and I had about half of it leftover after the shindig. And, well, I couldn’t just let the leftovers go to waste.
So I had a glass or two every day when I got home until it was gone.
I didn’t know at the time that you could safely age eggnog, so I drank it all within a week.
And I’m pretty sure I gained five pounds that holiday season.
Oh, but it’s worth every calorie. Trust me.
However, I did do one thing to the traditional eggnog recipe to combat that issue.
Replace some of the heavy cream with milk? You can, but I didn’t.
Cut back the sugar? Not a chance.
No, I just quartered the recipe. That way I can enjoy a quart-sized recipe without feeling compelled to drink a whole gallon by myself.
My other suggestion, if you don’t want to waste any leftovers but you’d like to space out all the sugar and cream and calories and fat over a longer period of time?
Throw any extra in an ice cream maker with a little nutmeg. It’s pretty much the best ice cream ever.
Okay, now that we’ve got that out of the way…
Let’s talk about the booze.
This recipe calls for half a cup of milk and half a cup of liquor. I used golden rum, but you can also use whiskey, brandy, bourbon, or a combination of the above.
If you like your eggnog particularly boozy, swap the half-cup of milk for another half-cup of liquor. That’s how it is in the original recipe, anyway.
I have a friend who poured himself this fully-alcoholic version at our party and then asked me where the rum was so he could add more. To each his own.
If you want it non-alcoholic, swap the half-cup of liquor out for another half-cup of milk. Easy peasy!
I would always make a fully-alcoholic version and a non-alcoholic version for my party, but my personal preference was to mix half a glass of each, so that’s how I’ve written it.
I’m a total lightweight and can’t handle the taste or alcohol of strong drinks, so keep that in mind if you prefer yours differently.
And if you’re an eggnog skeptic, just give this one a try.
It’s converted others before you, and it can convince you too! Come to the ‘nog side.
Homemade Traditional Eggnog
- 3 eggs separated
- 1 cup confectioner's sugar
- 1/2 cup alcohol rum, whiskey, brandy, or bourbon (I used gold rum)
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 cups heavy/whipping cream
- Nutmeg and cinnamon for serving
- Beat yolks alone until light in color, about 3 minutes. Gradually beat in confectioner's sugar.
- Add alcohol very slowly, beating constantly. Cover and refrigerate for an hour to help dispel the eggy taste.
- Add cream and milk, beating constantly. Cover and refrigerate for an additional 3 hours.
- Just before serving, beat egg whites until stiff but not dry (like a meringue). Fold whites into eggnog.
- Serve sprinkled with nutmeg and cinnamon to taste. Yield is about 1 quart.
For a more boozy recipe, substitute more alcohol for the milk.
For a nonalcoholic recipe, substitute more milk for the alcohol.
If you have leftovers, throw it in your ice cream maker with a little nutmeg and cinnamon for the best ice cream ever!