'Tis the Season: Tips for Making Great Eggnog

Even if you think you don't like eggnog, we have a feeling you'll enjoy this version.

By Cooper Levey-Baker December 21, 2020

Lots of people say they don't like eggnog, but I think they just haven't tried the right kind.

For starters, you can throw out anything that comes pre-made. Even a confirmed nog head like me doesn't enjoy the stuff that comes in a carton. The magic of eggnog occurs when the dense, creamy texture of egg yolks, sugar and dairy collides with light, frothy whipped egg whites, a whimsical experience that is difficult to pull off unless you make your own.

But how do you do that? For years, I've relied on an easy-to-follow recipe from Alton Brown that delivers magical results—if you tweak it a little.

The base recipe (which you can find here) includes eggs, sugar, whole milk, heavy cream, nutmeg and bourbon. Brown offers two versions—one in which you gently cook the egg yolks and another in which you leave the eggs raw. Opt for the uncooked version, which calls for beating raw yolks with sugar; mixing in the dairy, nutmeg and bourbon; and then whisking all that with egg whites that have been beaten to soft peaks with a touch more sugar.

A tip? Rather than whisk together the two elements into a homogenous whole, delicately stir them together, being careful not to over-mix them, a move that preserves some of the distinct texture of the two parts.

After you've let the bifurcated mixture chill, serve the eggnog by pouring the liquid into a wide-mouthed glass and spooning some of the egg whites on top. Then garnish it with some additional microplaned nutmeg. Serving it with a small spoon will help you scoop out the egg white white mixture and combine the flavors however you like.

Another slight twist I'd consider is the bourbon. Brown's recipe calls for three ounces. I like to add more to the base mixture (to taste) and, to gild the lily, at the last minute, I pour a little extra bourbon on the drink once it's in the glass. You can even experiment with another liquor, like a good aged rum. Even if you're not a confirmed nog lover, I think you'll enjoy it. Like all tasty homemade items, it has the secret ingredient: love. And bourbon.

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