Sunday, December 11, 2011

Holiday Eggnog

My childhood memories of Christmas resemble faded Polaroids: mustard-yellow or pine green shag carpets, gaudy Christmas trees, bed-headed family members in bath robes and gowns, stockings over the hearth, the mouthwatering smell of a roast in the oven, blaring holiday music, and, of course, eggnog. Go on, try the link.

Eggnog - specifically, the eggnog my father used to make - was a staple at my parents' holiday gatherings for as long as I can remember. My dad would make gallons of the stuff in vats, and serve it up to guests - who, enthralled by the silky texture and rich flavor, would quaff cups of the stuff and wind up three sheets to the wind. That is because there is a boatload of bourbon in it, and rum too. Those parties got louder and louder as the night wore on.

As I grew a bit older, I was eventually initiated into the eggnog ritual, but allowed only one glass... My grandmother once got quite ridiculous after drinking two or three glasses of the stuff, triggering a laughing fit that took over the whole family for an hour. 

Oakland 1977
A few years ago, prior to a holiday party I was hosting, I asked Dad for his eggnog recipe. This makes a damn fine eggnog for the holidays, truly old school. It is incredibly thick, the consistency of heavily whipped cream. After shaking and serving, an inch of dense froth forms on the surface, which makes the ultimate moustache. It is definitely a dessert in a glass. Be forewarned, however, that the quantities seem to double once the cream is whipped and the egg whites are beaten. You will need very big mixing bowls in order to avoid the sort of billowing spillover that happened to me, ending in a desperate rummage for additional bowls into which to split the rapidly ballooning volumes of liquid.

You'll understand why this is a special treat, and why you are best off limiting yourself to this once a year at most, after one glance at the ingredients. A few notes before you get started: Dad recommends making this a week in advance, so the flavors meld. I am not sure it is necessary to do this - maybe a night or two instead. 

Holiday Eggnog
Makes a gallon plus

12 egg yolks
12 egg whites
1 1/2 cups of sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 quart heavy cream
1 quart milk
750 ml bottle of bourbon
1 cup of light rum
Nutmeg for garnish

Beat the egg yolks with 1 cup of the sugar and the salt, until very light. In a separate bowl, beat the whites until stiff, then beat in the additional 1/2 cup of sugar. Combine the egg mixtures and beat until thoroughly blended. Next, whip the cream and then beat it into the egg mixture, followed by the milk. Stir in the whiskey and mix well, and finally, add the rum. 

You'll need a jug that holds over a gallon to store this, as the eggs and cream become very voluminous after beating. Store in a cool place (the fridge, in other words, or outside if you have cold winters). Be sure to shake the stuff vigorously before serving. Sprinkle nutmeg on top and watch your guests get loopy. It's good.

Bottoms up, and season's greetings! 


  1. I'm going to dream about this night and day.

  2. I enjoy the way you repeat the phrase "the stuff". Very "street".

  3. Yes, I too remember the first time offered this egg nog. Party on the top, business on the bottom. As you tip the drink you get a frothy, thick, rich, creaminess followed by the hard stuff. Quickly does the job.


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