Eggnog is nostalgic, indulgent, and a holiday staple. But it’s far from a one-trick pony. Though the classic recipe of spirit, sugar cream, egg and spice is perfectly fine, creative professionals are whipping up riffs with ingredients like fat-washed syrups and amari, and reaching for more than one bottle to ramp up complexity in the mug. ‘Tis the season for the incredible—quaffable—egg.
Batch-able versions of eggnogs are perfect for busy bars during the holidays. At BRABO Restaurant in Alexandria, Virginia, chef de cuisine Harper McClure’s Chef-Nog Punch can be mixed in advance and served in a punchbowl; the kitchen also pours it into pint- or quart-sized Mason jars and gives it to guests as gifts. The spirited, convivial concoction combines three types of liquor: Bourbon, dark rum and Cognac. “The best word to describe it is decadent,” admits McClure. “It’s very boozy and super rich because of the egg.” When mixing up eggnog, he cautions to be mindful of the correct ratios; though it can be appealing to stray from the recipe, the resultant beverage may not be well-balanced. BRABO also mixes Chef-Nog Punch with gelatin, lets it set and serves it as a panna cotta for dessert.
Courtesy of Harper McClure, BRABO Restaurant, Alexandria, VA
Yields 1 ½ gallons
12 eggs, separated
2 cups sugar
4 cups Old Grand Dad Bourbon
2 cups Myer’s Rum
2 cups Courvoisier
4 quarts of half and half
Cinnamon, mace and nutmeg, to taste
Combine the egg yolks and sugar in a chilled mixing bowl of a stand mixer. Whip at high speed until quadrupled in volume; reduce speed to medium, and slowly begin drizzling the Bourbon, rum and Cognac into the mixer (do not add them too quickly or the yolks will scramble.) Once the alcohol is combined, add the half and half and mix it until blended.
In a separate, cleaned and chilled mixer bowl, whip the egg whites to form soft peaks, making sure they are not too stiff or they won’t blend. Gently fold the whipped egg whites into the milk mixture. Season the eggnog to taste with cinnamon and mace, serve it in a pewter cup or Mason jar, and top with grated nutmeg.
“Eggnog has that classic flavor of comfort food spice,” admits Chris Burmeister, lead bartender and mixologist at The Outpost in Goleta, California. “They are warm and inviting…a memory seared into everyone’s mind from something they tasted and enjoyed at some point in their life.” He points to memory-driven dishes and sips like apple pie, cinnamon rolls or a chai latte—which contain the same spice profile found in many aged spirits found in that most nostalgic of beverages—eggnog. The St. Nick’s Fix is a sweet and nutty take on the classic. “It has a nice creamy texture and big body mouth feel, with traditional holiday flavors like pecan, cinnamon, allspice, clove, cherry and chocolate,” he explains. “The Bourbon lends all these notes, which are then fortified with the buttered pecan syrup and the St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram.” Burmeister recommends preparing it à la minute rather than batching it, to ensure the integrity of each drink.
St. Nick’s Fix
Courtesy of Chris Burmeister, lead bartender and mixologist, The Outpost, Goleta, California
1 ½ oz. Woodford Reserve Bourbon
1 oz. Buttered Pecan Syrup (see Recipe)
½ oz. heavy cream
1 bar spoon St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram
1 egg white
Cinnamon, for garnish
Pecan cookie, for garnish
Add the Bourbon, syrup, heavy cream and Allspice Dram to a cocktail shaker, and shake without ice until all ingredients are emulsified. Add ice, and shake it again until well chilled. Double strain it into a 6 oz. chilled coupe, and garnish it with ground cinnamon and a pecan cookie.
For the Buttered Pecan Syrup
¾ cup pecans
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons maple syrup
Pinch of cinnamon
1 liter of simple syrup (1:1 ratio of sugar to water)
In a large skillet, melt the butter, add the pecans, maple syrup and cinnamon, and simmer on low heat for 5 minutes. Add 1 liter of simple syrup to the pan, increase heat to medium, and simmer for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove mixture from the heat, let cool, and store in a large jar or container in the refrigerator. Before using, scrape off top layer of butter and pecans, and strain through cheesecloth and a fine strainer to remove solids.
The classic Italian airy custard made with egg yolks, sugar and sweet wine, and the citrusy-bottled Punch Fantasia [Amari], inspired Holly Reid’s creamy, dreamy holiday cocktail. “We wanted to put an Italian spin on a classic beverage without actually using eggnog,” explains the bartender at 312 Chicago in Chicago. “It also introduces new liqueurs that people may not have tried, which is a huge part of bartending—finding something new people can enjoy and relate to.” The exotic, egg-based Zabaglione uses wine-based liqueurs Fantasia Punch Amari, Cardamaro and Barolo Chinato, which mimic the flavor of baking spices. Belle Meade Bourbon adds flavor and structure, and an egg replaces cream to render body and thickness. The resulting cocktail is full-bodied, exotic, spicy and bitter. Reid also suggests eschewing Bourbon for rum or brandy; either way, she makes it to order to give guests the freshest flavor, and suggests it as a digestif or paired with dessert. “It makes people feel warm during the cold months,” she says. “Eggnog is something people recognize and appreciate.”
Courtesy of Holly Reid, 312 Chicago, Chicago
1 ½ oz. Fantastia Punch Amari
¾ oz. Cardamaro
¼ oz. Barolo Chinato
½ oz. Belle Meade Bourbon
¼ oz. demerara syrup
1 whole egg
Freshly grated nutmeg, for garnish
Add the egg to the cocktail shaker, and shake without ice until emulsified. Add all other ingredients except garnish to the shaker, add ice, shake until chilled, and strain into a rocks glass. Garnish the drink with freshly grated nutmeg.