Rejoice, it’s eggnog season! The last three weeks of December is decidedly the time to imbibe and if you want your eggnog to be perfect for Christmas Eve, you should make it ASAP. All you need are five ingredients: eggs, milk, heavy cream, sugar, and spirits. Well-made eggnog is basically irresistible. It should be sweet, rich, and luxuriously silky — almost like drinking custard laced with barrel-aged rum.
Now is the time to make your batch of eggnog because it gets better as it sits and mingles. Twenty-four hours is a reasonable amount of time, a few weeks is ideal. This also gives some time for the egg white foam to settle in and to perfect that smooth texture.
Eggnog advice from Pittsburgh experts
Unless you grew up in a house with a strong tradition of homemade eggnog (and if so, can I come hang out sometime?), most people first try a non-alcoholic store-bought version. Venerable Pittsburgh bartender Nicole Battle has childhood memories attached to carton eggnog. She absolutely insists on properly chilled ‘nog, however, saying the warm version is an “absolute no-go.” This time of year, grocery store shelves are heaving with cartons of non-alcoholic eggnog, so that route is there for the taking.
A few years ago, bartender Amanda Schaffner decided to convert her mom from store-bought to homemade eggnog. For the past three years, Schaffner has made her signature eggnog for a limited time at Butterjoint. This year however, she is making it for grateful friends and family. Her delicious recipe calls for both Maggie’s Farm rum and cognac, and is laced with a dose of holiday-spiced amaro because, as Schaffner rightfully declares, “everything’s better with amaro.”
The Summit bartender Adam Pardini has memories of his dad settling in on Christmas eve with enough eggnog to last until he and his brother had fallen asleep. The Summit’s batch, which is currently resting in refrigeration, has a heavy-hitting combination of bourbon, rye whiskey, and brandy that’s spiced with cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger. When it debuts in a few weeks, Pardini says it will be “decadent and boozy,” which is exactly how it should be.
Once you’re a seasoned ‘nog veteran, you’ll likely have your preferred version. Some like bourbon and others rum. Some like it with sherry and tequila, others with maple syrup and allspice. Long-time Acacia bartender Shane Morrison has his own special twist. Every week during December, Acacia makes a different batch of eggnog, but they always serve it over ice and garnish it with citrus zest. Which, according to Morrison, “lightens and brightens it up and makes it very approachable to guests.”
Turn up the festive music, plug in the lights, and prepare your own batch — you’ll thank yourself later.
Eggnog with Bourbon
approximately 10% abv; makes 10-12 servings
- Separate the eggs, placing the whites in a large mixing bowl. Beat the whites until they’re frothy before slowly adding a few tablespoons of sugar, continuing to whip them until they’re thick enough to form soft peaks.
- Next, place the egg yolks in a medium mixing bowl, along with the rest of the sugar, and beat until the sugar has dissolved and the yolks are ribbon-y. Add the milk, cream, bourbon, and a pinch of salt.
- Add the egg yolk mixture to the whipped egg whites and stir to thoroughly incorporate. Much of the lighter egg white foam will settle on top, but will dissipate once it rests in the refrigerator for a day or more. Fill clean jars, bottles, whatever with your eggnog and refrigerate.
- When you’re ready to settle in and enjoy a cup or two of ‘nog, shake the container well, and garnish with some freshly grated nutmeg, if you have it.
It is hard to replicate anything as rich as eggnog in a vegan version, however a rum-spiked, dairy-free horchata is a delicious alternative.
(Vegan) Horchata de Arroz with Rum
approximately 10% abv; make 4-6 servings
- 1.5 cups white rice (rinsed and uncooked)
- 1 cinnamon stick (or ½ tsp ground cinnamon)
- ½ cup sugar
- 4 cups hot water
- 1 cup dark rum (like Maggie’s Farm 50/50)
- ground cinnamon for garnish
- Pour hot water over the rice, cinnamon, sugar, and a pinch of salt and let soak overnight.
- The next day, pour the soaked ingredients and liquid into a blender and blend until very smooth. This could take a few minutes.
- Strain the mixture through a fine strainer or cheesecloth, which will render about 3 cups of horchata.
- Add 1 cup of dark rum
- Mix well, serve over ice with a sprinkle of ground cinnamon
What about raw eggs?
A note for those who have questions about raw eggs as an ingredient: The vast majority of egg farms in Pennsylvania belong to PEQAP — the Pennsylvania Egg Quality Assurance Program — a Penn State-developed program that has nearly eliminated salmonella in our eggs (another great reason to buy local). Additionally, a 2008 experiment by Rockefeller University showed that the alcohol in eggnog is a wonderful sterilizer. Just be sure to keep it in your refrigerator once it’s made.
Needs some ‘nog before breakfast?
Turner’s Dairy shares their famous eggnog pancake recipe.
Local eggnog by the carton from local Pittsburgh dairies
📸Marburer’s Facebook page.
Pittsburgh eggnog is a holiday staple from these classic Pittsburgh dairies. One Redditor reported that Scheinder’s Dairy delivered eggnog to his home when he was a kid. Turner Dairy Farms, Marburger Farm Dairy and Schneider’s Dairy make eggnog for the holiday season. Keep an eye out for their eggnog in the dairy section of your local grocery store.
Marburger Farm Dairy has a store in Evan’s City that is open Monday – Saturday. Check the Marburger Farm Dairy Facebook page for updates.
Eggnog on the menu?
If you are out and about for a holiday cocktail this year, let us know if you see an eggnog cocktail we should try!