Drink of the Week: Eggnog

eggnogI have a confession to make.  Despite my enormous love of all things sweet and milk fatty, I was fully prepared to bale on what has to be the ultimate seasonal drink. I have to admit there were concerns for my waistline — you guys have no idea how much weight I gained as a child knocking back the carton based non-alcoholic stuff. Also, as I grew older, I usually was disappointed by the spiked nog I’d had at parties. Somehow, the booze always seemed to destroy the cheap and creamy charm of the store bought nog. It was like putting vodka in chocolate milk. (I’d rather have a shot and choco-moo chaser, thank you.)

Still, the real reason I was going to go AWOL on eggnog was that I was simply intimidated. I imagined fresh eggnog to be a very complicated drink to make; a drink that might even force me to break my no-blenders rule, classic drink though it be. The online recipes telling me that I had to start with a 6 or more eggs, separate the yolks from the whites and perform various operations on them only reinforced that assumption.

Then, however, I started Googling “eggnog for one” and a great revelation came to me. Really, all this drink is a raw egg — provisos and disclaimers to come — milk, sugar, vanilla flavor, and booze. I have to say that, even if I have a sentimental attachment for the gooey store bought stuff, this shockingly easy, if slightly messy, home made version beats that all to heck.

So, here goes, the drink recipe I never thought I’d post.

Eggnog

1.5 ounces of your choice of cognac/brandy, bourbon, Canadian whiskey, or rum
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 ounce heavy cream (optional)
2 ounces full fat milk if not using heavy cream; with cream use 1.5 ounces
4-5 teaspoons superfine or powdered sugar
Ground nutmeg (garnish)
1 cinnamon stick (optional garnish)

Add your choice of booze to the egg and beat in the certainly mistaken belief that the alcohol will kill any errant bacteria lurking in the egg. The booze does, however, loosen up the egg and make it easier to beat. You might as well throw in the vanilla extract at this stage, because that’s got some alcohol, too, right? (Note to fellow vanilla lowers — 1/4 teaspoon of extract per serving is all you need. I tried doubling it on one attempt, and it kind of threw off the balance. The stuff’s expensive, anyhow.)

Pour the eggy booze/boozy egg mixture into a cocktail shaker. Add 2 ounces of whole milk or, if you really want to go full nog, substitute half an ounce of heavy cream for 1/2 ounce of the milk. Stir in the easily dissolved sugar of your choice.

Add ice. Shake very vigorously and strain into a smallish rocks glass. Garnish with a plentiful sprinkling of ground nutmeg on the top, which should sport an appetizing froth. Add a cinnamon stick if you like — it’s probably more for presentation than flavor but it looks nice — and prepare for the elixir of the soon-to-be overweight gods.

***
Okay, so there’s a raw egg in this drink. The chances of salmonella poisoning from an egg are extremely low and you’re probably more likely to make contact with the nasty bacteria in a salad — and the salad doesn’t have any alcohol in it. However, as usual, people with compromised immune systems or other significant health issues, definitely including pregnant women, should probably stay away for a number of reasons. Of course, if you can find them, springing for pasteurized eggs is also a possibility.

And now a word about the choice of booze. Really, every kind I tried worked wonderfully. I will say that the bottle of Hennessy VS Cognac I’ve been sampling courtesy of their thoughtful PR folks was an especially refreshing version. The late Kim Il Sung might have been a murderous mad man even by dictatorial standards, but he knew his mid-priced brandy.

That being said, the sweeter whiskeys like bourbon and Canadian whisky also work nicely and it just occurs to me that Bushmills’s very light and drinkable Irish whiskey might be good, but I’m much less sure of Scotch. Bacardi light rum was good but the Whaler’s Original dark rum I used for last week’s DOTW was significantly better and I’m sure any reputable amber variety would be very decent.

I suspect this recipe would also work fine sans booze, though it will be all that much thicker and you might want to avoid the heavy cream if excessive richness is not your thing. Or, you may wan to use more ice and shake it a bit longer. I wouldn’t worry too much, it’s not easy to ruin frosty icy, aerated dairy fat and sugar with a bit of vanilla.

Happy Hanukkah, Christmas, and Atheist/Pagan Saturnalia, everyone.

  

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