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Eggnog

From Bohanan’s, in San Antonio.

By December 2014Comments

Photograph by Adam Voorhes

The consumption of eggnog is as integral to the holidays as cold weather and retail overload. In some families, graduation from “virgin” to “spiked” nog is a rite of passage, and recipes are a closely guarded secret, passed down through the generations with ritual flourish.

Eggnog, or something like it, has been around since the earliest days of the American colonial experiment. Though the etymology is uncertain, the drink is likely descended from the posset, a medieval beverage of dubious medicinal quality that was made from warmed milk spiced and curdled with wine or ale. By the eighteenth century the term “eggnog” was in common use, and by the nineteenth century the drink was a part of the mixological canon.

As ubiquitous as eggnog may be, people rarely drink the homemade stuff anymore, which is unfortunate given the ease of making it from scratch. The carton of commercial eggnog may look nostalgic, but a peek at the ingredients reveals that it is a product of modern food science, with its flavorizers, stabilizers, and emulsifiers—a far cry from the simple beverage that warmed the hearts of our ancestors. Only cream, sugar, eggs, and nutmeg are needed. And the booze, of course. Though originally made with rum, brandy, or fortified wine, it would be remiss not to include a little bourbon if you’re in the South.

At Bohanan’s, no culinary matter is undertaken without serious consideration, and the eggnog is no exception. Bourbon and aged rum are seasoned with pimento dram (an allspice liqueur) and a dash of pumpkin bitters, which chef Heather Nañez makes in-house. Then cream and fresh eggs enter the picture, resulting in a thick, boozy concoction that will make you believe in the divine, regardless of your affiliation.

Bohanan’s Eggnog
Serves 1

3/4 ounce bourbon
3/4 ounce aged rum
3/4 ounce heavy cream
3/4 ounce simple syrup
1/4 ounce Bitter Truth Pimento Dram or St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
1 egg
dash pumpkin bitters (optional)
freshly grated nutmeg, for garnish

Combine all ingredients except nutmeg in a mixing tin and dry-shake (shake without the ice, to start the emulsification). Add ice to the tin and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled punch cup and top with nutmeg.

Bohanan’s Eggnog
Serves 14–16

12 eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 pints heavy cream
8 pints milk
2 pints bourbon
2 pints aged rum
3 ounces Bitter Truth Pimento Dram
freshly grated nutmeg, for garnish

In a large mixing bowl, beat egg yolks with 1 cup sugar until thick. In another bowl, beat egg whites with the remaining 1/2 cup sugar until thick. In a third bowl, beat the cream until thick. Add the cream to the yolks, fold in the egg whites, and add the milk, bourbon, rum, and pimento dram. Chill in freezer and garnish with nutmeg before serving.

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