Well, certainly I know that my American ilk posted their exciting entries about Eggnog all December long and have already forgotten about this drink, but I, as a matter of fact, have an excuse. Eggnog is a traditional Christmas drink, isn’t it? So, let me restate that Eggnog is a drink which some (okay, okay – it is a risqué assumption) Christians usually have on Christmas. But! Look! Not all Christians have Christmas in December! Actually, being Orthodox, we (I mean Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians) have our Christmas Eve on January 6 thus I am just in time 8)
Obviously, Eggnog isn’t our traditional Christmas drink. As a matter of fact here in Ukraine it is almost an unknown drink. Most people even have never heard about eggnog, needless to say they have never tasted it. So, I will be a sort of pioneer of eggnog around here 8)
As I could notice eggnog is quite popular in the USA. Being popular stuff in a market system, eggnog, certainly, became a commercial product a long time ago. Adam Smith’s invisible hand of the market takes heed to bring eggnog even to the laziest persons – just take down a carton of the drink from a grocery store shelf and you are in the trend. But also I noticed that commercial stuff, even spiked with a small batch bourbon, isn’t considered a connoisseur’s choice ;) People who understand prefer to make eggnog from scratch. In my experience, this is the best way to enjoy this drink.
Generally, modern homemade eggnog is prepared with raw eggs, some dairy (milk, cream or both), sugar, spices (at least nutmeg) and liquors (bourbon, rum, brandy – all are allowed). In particular, all ingredients may vary – it seems there are millions of eggnog recipes just like for a Martini (or another cocktail superstar). So, it wasn’t easy to pick out a recipe for first tasting, but fortunately I have several authorities which never short-sell me in a wide range of questions about mixed drinks. One of these authorities is Dale DeGroff whose famous recipe of Uncle Angelo’s Eggnog I followed for starters (As a base I used a recipe from his book The Essential Cocktail, if you haven’t got it, you also can find the recipe on Liquor.com).
Uncle Angelo’s Eggnog (by Dale DeGroff)
35 g sugar
150 ml milk
75 ml heavy cream
40 ml bourbon
30 ml spiced rum
10 ml flavorful rum
Separate egg. In a bowl beat together yolk with about two-thirds (or a little more) of sugar until mix becomes pale in color even almost white. Then add slowly milk and cream, stir up the mix with a whisk. Then add liquors and stir again. The mix must be quite homogeneous. In another bowl whip the egg white until soft peaks then add the rest of sugar and whip thoroughly until stiff peaks. Beware of not overbeating the whites, the froth must glisten. Then pour slowly yolk mixture in the whipped egg whites stirring eggnog constantly with a whisk. Stir until entirely smooth. Chill eggnog in a fridge for a couple of hours or serve it in a chilled bowl standing over ice. Serve eggnog in beautiful crystal mugs or punch cups or just in short tumblers. Grate nutmeg on top of the each drink. It seems, this recipe gives 2 serving, so feel free to scale it if you need.
Quite literally such eggnog is pretty similar to flip (diluted with some dairy) but there is something that can make this drink different – certain preparation tricks. As a matter of fact, there are two different ways to make eggnog (not only this eggnog, I mean, all eggnogs) quite a distinctive drink. It’s, lets say, maturing (or ripening) and cooking. So, it will probably be better to mature the eggnog for a minimum of five days, even though this recipe tastes pretty good right after mixing.
As I could have noticed, one of the most important things in eggnog is consistency. It seems, eggnog must have an appropriate texture and mouthfeel. Although it is quite difficult to realize these two key things just by reading posts or watching youtube 8) So, I should engage an expert 8) Fortunately, my English teacher (native American) kindly accepted my invitation to a tasting and gave me some advice.
Several attempts (with this recipe and some others) showed that both tricks affected texture significantly (even though they gave rather different results). They work in different ways, but both of them bring additional thickness, smoothness and roundness to the drink. Actually, cooking gives thicker and fluffy eggnog [it is another story and it will be coming soon], but maturing, as for me, gives a more delicate, roundish, silky texture and quite interesting mouthfeel. Also maturing affects the flavor and palate of eggnog. It seems, maturing of eggnog is a very interesting procedure to explore, and I should give it more attention in the next season (and try to mature it for quite longer periods).
Well, my first acquaintance came off. Eggnog is a rather pleasant dessert drink with a lovely small kick. It is very delicious. It suits winter holidays wonderfully. It is so reach and heavy (in sugar, fat and ultimately – calories;) and it undoubtedly can replace holiday cake on the table. And, I must admit, eggnog may also suit wonderfully our Christmas tradition. Ukrainian Christmas cuisine is very rich and heavy, [actually it is such all year around ;)] – a roasted goose or a duck, kholodec – traditional dish – a sort of broth jelly (aspic) with a lot of different boiled meat in it (usually chicken (rooster) with hog knuckle and beef), pork stew, fried fish and, of course, traditional homemade roasted hog sausage. A traditional Christmas sweet dish is kutia – a sort of boiled cereal with raisins usually served with uzvar – soft drink from dried apples and sometimes pears. However, traditionally, kutia isn’t a dessert, it opens Christmas table. This heavy meal serve a purpose to break the Christmas Lent and I don’t see any reason to not to include such a rich and heavy concoction like eggnog at the close of that feast 8) Therefore, thanks to globalization, which puts bourbon on our shelves, and World Wide Web, that gives us knowledge (and of course, many thanks to American bloggers who write so passionately about eggnog) now I can make Eggnog my Christmas tradition too.
P.S. Being an eggnog novice I don’t give so much useful information in this post, if you need not emotions but information, I want to recommend some useful pages – Brilliant post on Kitchen Riffs about Eggnog (one of the best on the web, I am positive), and 5 Tips about Eggnog from Derek Brown on Liquor.com.
P.P.S.S. Also I should thank Denise from ChezUs.com for such a stunning idea – photgraphing eggnog with a fir twig 8)