Tis’ the Season for Eggnog

'Tis the Season for Eggnog

by Chad Spalding

While by no means do I consider myself an eggnog connoisseur, or even an eggnog enthusiast, I’m going to give it my best shot at sharing the scoop on this delightful seasonal treat.

Historically, eggnog is just your basic rich, sweetened, dairy-based beverage made with milk, cream, sugar, whipped egg whites and egg yolks. Pretty lame if you ask me, so luckily someone had the bright idea to add alcohol!

I haven’t consumed much eggnog in my lifetime. As a matter of fact, I have probably drank more during my research for this article than in my entire life. I found out quickly during my tasting and research that there are others who know much more about this product than I, so I went to those sources.

  1. Jason Brauner, the owner of Bourbon Bistro in Louisville, KY has one of the most popular eggnog yearly releases in the entire city of Louisville and the surrounding area. While he wouldn’t tell me too many of his secrets for his homemade recipe, he did give me a few tidbits:
    • High proof alcohol has the best synergy with the other ingredients. As a matter of fact, he said that his father still makes his recipe with 190 proof pure grain alcohol.
    • Jason does not use pure grain but prefers to go the high proof bourbon route, somewhere in the 125 proof range.
    • The trick is to adjust the sugar content based on the proof of the spirit that is being used.

  2. Please check out this guy on Instagram, Noggdogg, he has his own Nogg Dogg Nogcast on Spotify as well. There are reviews, cocktail recipes, etc.

  3. Another great source, who I actually got a chance to meet recently at the ACSA Conference in Louisville, is the Cocktail Contessa (Heather Wibbels). You can also find her on Instagram or her website. She likes to make her own eggnog and also is a master mixologists with this creamy treat.

Once you finish reading about how the pros make and use this seasonal favorite, check out my thoughts after doing a little eggnog research of my own.

Miracle on Market, Louisville, KY, a pop-up holiday themed bar that I was introduced to by my friend and co-worker Noah Steingraeber from Kentucky Bourbon Barrel. We visited this site in hopes to find a great eggnog or cocktail treat. BAM, we found it! On their cocktail menu was "Jingle Balls Nog". This version had cognac, cream sherry, almond milk, cream, egg, vanilla, nutmeg. Sounds delicious right? Well, let me also add that they served this crafty cocktail in a chilled, holiday themed 6 oz mug (which after more research I found out why).

At Home Eggnog. I purchased two liquor store brands and enjoyed them chilled (which is normally recommended).

  • McAfee's Benchmark Old No. 8 Eggnog – it states that it is “eggnog with Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey”, 30 proof (15% alcohol). This one is interesting because you can really get a quick hint of cinnamon on the nose as you take that first drink. That cinnamon disc punch certainly comes through once it goes down the hatch. I was somewhat impressed with this sample and would recommend this to someone looking to get started on their eggnog journey.

  • Evan Williams, Original Southern Egg Nog – it states it is “Made with Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Blended Whiskey, Rum and Brandy, 30 proof (15% alcohol). I must say a totally different experience with this one than the other. You could smell the bourbon whiskey right off the bat. After that first sip the bourbon or blended whiskey shines through but the finish of the rum is what you are left with. I surprisingly enjoyed that first sip, so I went back for another and another and another. This one had me hooked! I wasn’t so sure about the rum and the brandy additions that set this one apart from the Benchmark, but I must say, I believe this made the difference.

Well now that I am basically an “old hand” with eggnog, some tips to adhere to with this delightful treat:

  1. Remember to use a chilled, 6 oz mug! Chilled, the smaller mug will prevent the residual egg note that lingers in a much taller glass or mug. You can thank me later 😊.
  2. Apparently is doesn’t matter if you add bourbon, blended whiskey, rum, brandy or cognac it all taste good. J.A.B, just add booze!
  3. My suggestion is to buy or make your own eggnog and then have some fun customizing it to your tastes. Or, shop local and support vendors in your area by enjoying their version of this tasty seasonal holiday treat.

- Chad

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