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Colleen Graham

Timeless Tipple of the Week: Eggnog

By December 8, 2009

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The holidays are truly here and that means that it is time to dive into the best holiday cocktails of all time. One that I will always enjoy (though it took some persuasion at first) is Eggnog. I think that many of the qualms with Eggnog, such as mine were, happens to be that there are many very bad versions of the holiday tradition, with the most poignant being those cartons that are found in the dairy section. No, to truly appreciate Eggnog we have to go old school and who better to explain it than Jerry Thomas, the most famous bartender of the late 1800's and still the best teacher of mixology?

Holiday Eggnog Recipes
Holiday Eggnog Recipes
Photo Courtesy of: Maker's Mark Bourbon Whisky

In the 1887 edition of Thomas' Bartenders Guide there are six Eggnog recipes listed, though the classic drink has been adapted many more times over the years. Here is "The Professor's" take on Eggnog...

  • Egg Nogg - For this recipe (very similar to this Brandy Eggnog recipe) Thomas includes both brandy and "Santa Cruz rum" (1/2 wine glass each) with a whole egg, powdered sugar and no milk. He also notes that "This may be made by using a wine glass of either of the above liquors, instead of both combined."
  • Hot Egg Nogg - About this version Thomas writes: "This drink is very popular in California, and is made in precisely the same manner as the cold egg nogg above, except that you must use boiling water instead of ice."
  • Egg Nogg for a Party -Thomas' recipe for an Eggnog punch is considerably stronger than the more modern, common version (recipe here). In this 3 1/2 gallon mix he uses 20 whole eggs, 2 1/2 quarts of fine old brandy, a pint of rum, 2 gallons of milk and 2 (whopping) pounds of sugar. He also adds a great tip that once the punch is in a bowl that it be placed in an ice bath.
  • Sherry Egg Nogg - Two full wine glasses of sherry are the spirited base for this version.
  • General Harrison's Egg Nogg - A non-alcoholic version of the holiday favorite, it used only sugar, an egg and ice. Thomas writes: "This is a delicious drink, and was very popular on the Mississippi river in old times. It is said to have been General Harrison's favorite beverage." Presumably the named Harrison was William Henry Harrison, though his grandson Benjamin Harrison was a brigadier general in the later part of the 1800's.
  • Baltimore Egg Nogg - Also a punch, this hefty version contains 1/2 pint brandy or rum, 2 wine glasses of Madeira wine, 6 pints of milk, 10 eggs and 10teaspoons of powdered sugar.

More on Eggnog...

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