Christmas Cocktail Ideas – A Drink of the Week Special

So, here’s the deal. Things are simply too crazy here at Drink of the Week for us to be experimenting with new cocktails over the next couple of weeks. I’ll spare you the details but they involve a cold virus with Dracula-like survival skills, a new and hopefully far more permanent location for Drink of the Week Central, plus the usual pre-holiday folderol.

Still, you readers want holiday cocktail suggestions, and I’m here to help.

eggnogg

So, how do you ring in the yuletide when it’s time for a bit of liquid refreshment? Well, the picture above may be a clue that I’m thinking nog. Eggnog might be a bit of holiday cliche but, you know what, cliches become cliches because they actually work and, if you make it fresh, eggnog really, really works. Yes, drink even a few of these ultra-rich, ultra-sweet concoctions and you’ll find yourself looking just a bit more like Santa in the weight department, but also in the area of cheerfulness. In other words, you’ve got to try this once. For me, there’s no better dessert drink.

Eggnog

1.5-2 ounces of your choice of cognac/brandy, bourbon, Canadian whiskey, rum, applejack, port or, perhaps, any other booze you think might be tasty.
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 or the equivalent in simple syrup (less if you’re base spirit is on the sweet side)
Ground nutmeg (garnish)

If you’ve been reading DOTW for a while, you can probably guess how this goes. We start with what the pros these days call a dry shake. You combine the sugar, the egg, and all the liquid ingredients, in a cocktail shaker without ice. Shake vigorously, but be careful of the top of your shaker. Egg whites provide some extra chemical fun that can make the top of your shaker pop off.

Next, add plenty of ice and shake again. Strain into a rocks glass and top off with some ground nutmeg. The fancy people use fresh nutmeg and grind it themselves. I use the store-bought kind.

While some might be fearful of the raw egg, for the large majority of unpregnant healthy adults, the risks are next to zilch if you’re egg is fresh, refrigerated, and uncracked. You took a far bigger chance driving to the store to buy the eggs. Also, contrary to the assumptions of many, there is nothing slimy about a properly made egg or egg-white infused cocktail. It’s also a gazillion X gazillion better than the nog you buy in the grocery store, and I used to love that stuff. This is, however, a health risk in that it is both megadelicious and, as you know, megafattening. You’ve been warned!

If you want to lighten it up fairly significantly and still have a delicious libation, consider a recent favorite of mine, and  a true but still obscure cocktail classic, the Flip. You can read my prior post or simply remove the dairy products, the vanilla extract, and some of the sugar from the above recipe. It’s less fattening and makes a lighter and more refreshing Chrismas treat. Also, if you’re getting over a cold like me, you won’t have to deal with the wonders of diary-related phlegm. Yum!

If you’d like something lighter still and more on the tangy side, consider creating your own tried and true variation on the egg-white infused whiskey sour, say the Chicago Sour, maybe substituting a port or sherry for the red wine float, or the Clover Leaf.

Not sold on the egg thing? Don’t worry, I’ve got one more suggestion.

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Drink of the Week: The Flip

The (Gin) Flip.If you read up on your truly classic cocktails, you’ll find that, like sours and highballs, a flip is not just one drink but an entire category of drinks. The Egg Sour, for example, is actually a delicious hybrid of a sour and a flip. A sour, you see, always contains fresh lemon or lime juice. A flip always contains a raw egg.

Even if you’re a reasonably sophisticated cocktail sipper, odds are, the closest you’ve gotten to a flip is freshly made Eggnog, which is actually closer to a flip than you might think. Usually called a Gin Flip, Whiskey Flip, Port Flip, etc. the recipe really doesn’t change a whole lot, because it doesn’t really have to. I’ve gone on and on here about the wonders of egg white in cocktails; it’s no surprise, then, that a whole egg is no less delicious. Imagine a lighter, fluffier, more refreshing and somewhat less fattening version of Eggnog and you’ll be on the right track.

The Flip

1 whole egg
1 1/2 – 2 ounces gin, whiskey, rum, port, sherry, etc.
1-3 teaspoons sugar or 1/4-1/2 ounce simple syrup
Grated nutmeg (fairly mandatory garnish)

Combine the egg, booze and sweetener in a cocktail shaker. Use less sugar/simple syrup — one teaspoon or 1/4 ounce of syrup –if you’re booze is something sweet, like port or sherry. You can also use less sugar if you’re simply allergic to sweet drinks. (Cocktail guru Robert Hess, whose taste sometimes leans towards the austere, calls for just one teaspoon of sugar, even when your base liquor is gin; I think that’s going overboard, or underboard, as the case may be.)

Shake vigorously without ice to properly emulsify the egg. Add lots of ice and shake again, even more vigorously. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass, smallish rocks glass, or a wine glass. Top with nutmeg and toast our fine, feathered egg producing friends.

****

I’m giving you a fair amount of range on how to make this, but you’ll have to use just a little bit of your own common sense about your taste buds to make the very best of this. Since I have an admitted sweet tooth, the most surefire version of this for me involved only 1 1/2 ounces of a spirit and an entire tablespoon (three teaspoons) of sugar or the liquid near equivalent of 1/2 ounce of simple syrup.

In the case of port, however, I found that one teaspoon of sugar was plenty of additional sweetness. Flips have also been made using ordinary wine which presumably is less sweet than port, so I’d suggest using maybe two or three teaspoons with all but the sweetest wines.

I did find that using the full 2 ounces of whiskey with a tablespoon of sugar did result in a wonderfully balanced drink that was a bit less of a dessert, but that using the same amount of gin wasn’t as much fun as it should have been. At least when I tried it with some Plymouth Gin I’d just purchased, the boozy, tangier aspects of the gin overwhelmed the sweeter, very refreshing aspects of the concoction.

I had a similar problem when I tried a flip with just 1 1/2 ounces of 100 proof Knob Creek bourbon, which was simply overpowering where even 2 full ounces of 80 proof Basil Hayden had been just about perfect. On the other hand, the 94 proof Redemption Rye I tried, which is maybe a bit sweeter than other ryes, was also pretty perfect. I’m sure less expensive brands like Jim Beam, Evan Williams, or my old pal, Canadian Club, would also be pretty awesome.

Leaving aside the booze and getting to the real nitty gritty, I used a large supermarket egg in all of my adventures. While I have to note that all the usual raw egg provisos apply (if you’re immune compromised in some way, please use pasteurized eggs), I should also add that some of the older recipes call for a small egg, which are pretty hard to find these days. For me, however, while an extra large and certainly a jumbo egg would probably be too much of a good thing for a drink this size, a large egg is about perfect.

Also, a lot of recipes insist on using freshly grated nutmeg for the garnish. I have no doubt that any flip would be better that way, but I’m too lazy/busy to bother with that and I suspect you are too.

It’s perfectly fine to use regular grocery store nutmeg, which is what I did. I’d hate to think of anyone being intimidated into not making this drink, which is for the most part not much harder to make than a Martini or a Manhattan. Touches like fresh nutmeg are why we spend borderline absurd amounts of money for a drink in a great craft cocktail bar; they aren’t a requirement at home.

Finally, readers who read a lot cocktail recipes will notice I haven’t made any mention of adding cream to a flip. I contemplated trying this drink that way, despite the calories, because I’m sure it would be delicious. I decided not to, because I’m even more certain it would have been Eggnog.

 

  

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)

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