When I was a kid, my mom used to make me egg nog. Well, “egg nog.” Into a blender would go milk, an egg, sugar, cinnamon, and some vanilla extract. Eight year old me loved the weird, unsanitary egg milkshake that resulted. Years later, I tried egg nog in a carton from a dairy chain that shall remain unnamed, a think syrupy glop that, I can say with confidence, was not fit for human consumption. So I can understand if people hear “egg nog” and think “no thanks!” Other than Punch, there’s probably no other drink that’s been so terribly abused over the years and bears so little resemblance to its original form. But bear with me! Egg nog has a long and illustrious pedigree and deserves your reconsideration. Done well, egg nog is a rich and tasty milk punch that definitely deserves a second chance. – Andrew
Illustration by Shauna Lynn for Oh So Beautiful Paper
Egg Nog (serves 2)
4 oz Brandy
2 oz Aged Rum
1-2 oz Simple Syrup
Vanilla Extract (optional)
6-12 oz Milk
Add the egg and syrup to an empty shaker and shake thoroughly, without ice. Add the brandy, rum, milk, and ice, then shake again until everything is thoroughly mixed. Strain into a chilled tumbler or mug, grate some fresh nutmeg on top, and enjoy!
This is adapted only slightly from the 1862 recipe by Jerry Thomas, one of history’s greatest bar tenders. (Milk Punch, of which this is a variant, goes back even farther to the 1600s.) And it’s not at all what you’d expect: it’s rich, with a smooth oaky depth thanks to the brandy and rum and just a bit of sweetness from the sugar and milk. The egg and milk give the drink a sturdy body and rich froth on top, but it’s something you can sip – not an egg milkshake.
Here are some additional thoughts, in no particular order of importance: used aged rum only, as clear rum absolutely will not do here. Consider bumping up the simple syrup to an ounce per serving, as the original egg nog was much less sweet than most drinks we’re familiar with now. Eggs in 1862 were also much smaller than eggs are todays, so you probably only need half an egg per serving – or use one egg make two drinks at once. If you have some handy, a dash of Allspice Dram can jazz up your egg nog. And my mom was on to something: though it’s not historically authentic, a dash of vanilla extract is a pretty solid addition. So. It’s Christmastime. Go make some egg nog.
Photo Credits: Nole Garey for Oh So Beautiful Paper