Relapse: Eggnog December 29, 2010Posted by inspiredbywolfe in Drinks.
Relapse: An occasional series where I discuss several ways of preparing an ingredient.
Confession time: I am not a huge fan of eggnog. I’m not a fan of milk-based drinks generally, and I find the combination of the eggs, milk and alcohol to not be the most pleasant. However, around this time of the year, I’m generally also obsessed with making it. “Maybe I don’t like it because the store-bought stuff is like custard”, I think, “I just haven’t found the right recipe”. So this year, I decided to try a number of different recipes, to judge for myself which was my favourite.
Jerry Thomas’ recipe
I started with a basic egg nog recipe as published in Jerry Thomas’ Bartenders Guide in 1862, and reproduced in David Wondrich’s Imbibe (I doubled the individual version to make two glasses, rather than making the full amount for 15!). This version has no cream in it, and uses cognac and rum as its alcohol addition. I mixed the ingredients in the cocktail shaker and gave it a good shake – it is the only drink in Thomas’ book that explicitly calls for the use of a cocktail shaker. I added some nutmeg on top, and here was the result.
The verdict: it was thinner than I’m used to eggnog being, and quite boozy. It wasn’t too sweet (although there was a bit of sugar in the recipe) and the nutmeg gave a nice spiciness. Overall, it was a nice balanced drink, although a little on the thin side.
I’m cheating a bit with this next drink as it has no eggs in it, but is a Puerto Rican rum drink traditionally served at Christmas. I roughly followed this recipe, again modifying the quantities to make drinks for two people, and using coconut milk instead of cream of coconut. All ingredients were to be mixed in a blender, including the spices. I added a little more cinnamon on top and served it.
The verdict: The consistency thicker than the Jerry Thomas version and I much preferred it. The coconut gave it a nice edge and somehow managed to mask the sweetness. The alcohol was less evident, and I’m not sure if that was just because the amount required was different, or because it only had rum in it. This was my favourite out of the three eggnogs, and the one I’m most likely to make again.
After reading an update on one of the food blogs I read, I was inspired to try ageing some eggnog. While I wasn’t organised enough (or to be honest, brave enough!) to age my eggnog for 12 months, I did age it for 3 weeks, the minimum specified by the recipe. As you can see from the recipe, it contained a lot of alcohol and dark rum, cognac and bourbon were all included! I mixed everything up as directed, and put it in some jars to age in the fridge.
I was a bit concerned when I noticed some gunk around the top of the jars, but I think that was from the froth on the top subsiding. When I took it out on Christmas Day, it looked pretty much the same as when I put it in the fridge originally!
The verdict: Wow, this one was boozy! I’m assuming that part of the reason so much alcohol is used is to help preserve it if you do wish to age it for the full 12 months. While it was very boozy, the alcohol had mellowed somewhat and had blended with the other ingredients – thanks to the ageing process, I think – so it did definitely make a difference to the overall flavour. Consistency-wise, this one was also quite thick. While eggnog still remains on my “Not Favourite” list, if I was a fan of eggnog, I’d be starting the ageing process right now for next year! The end result – and of course the novelty value – make it worthwhile.
While this experiment still hasn’t changed my mind about eggnog, it was fun to experiment with different recipes and techniques. If you know of any brilliant recipes or tricks I’ve missed, let me know and I can try them next year!