Time to Make the Eggnog

This is a reminder, as much to myself as anyone else, that if it’s early November, it’s time to make the eggnog—specifically aged eggnog—so it’ll be ready in time for the holidays.

Ingredients for a batch of aged eggnog (Maker's Mark bourbon, half-and-half, eggs) sitting on Jeep fender
Picking up the ingredients for our 2022 batch (already had sugar and vanilla)

I first learned about aged eggnog from Michael Ruhlman, after an extinct blog post he wrote in 2008, but it wasn’t until last November (4,700 days later to be precise—note to self: set a recurring calendar reminder) that I finally had the foresight to make some in time. And it was awesome! The idea occurred to me again yesterday, and along with it came this faint recollection that I had wanted to tweak the recipe, but I couldn’t recall how. Luckily I dug up an email from last year which helped me reconstruct the memory.

I’d learned from the comments on Ruhlman’s 2014 post that he recommends Maker’s Mark or Buffalo Trace for the bourbon. As I’ve never been a big fan of brown liquors, this recommendation helped, as did reading the Wikipedia page on bourbon whiskey, where I learned that “the bourbon distilleries that produce Buffalo Trace, Maker’s Mark, and Woodford Reserve are National Historic Landmarks in Kentucky.” That made me take notice. I was able to pick up some Buffalo Trace at Trader Joe’s last year, and I was blown away by how good it was. Consider me converted. This year I’m using Maker’s Mark because that’s what Trader Joe’s had when I stopped by. I also learned from the comments that Ruhlman had updated the recipe for publication in his cookbook, Egg. He reduced the sugar slightly, he used half-and-half instead of milk and cream (in the US, whole milk has 3.25% fat and heavy whipping cream has 36% fat, so when Ruhlman combined 4 cups of whole milk with 1 cup of heavy cream in his original blog post recipe, the resulting 5 cups (or ~1.2 L) had 9.8% fat, therefore half-and-half, with its 10.5–18% fat, is a nearly identical substitute; in other parts of the world where half-and-half doesn’t exist, use cream with 10–12% fat; e.g. in France, use crème légère fluide with 12% matières grasses), and he adjusted the alcohol mix. He noted that “this recipe is pretty boozy—feel free to reduce the alcohol to 1 liter total, or to taste. I like the mix of boozes for flavor but anything goes here.” I took him up on his suggestion and just stuck with equal parts bourbon and dairy. Lastly I opted to halve the recipe, yielding approximately 1,200 ml (or 40 oz) of eggnog—which annoyed me because it’s too much for a single 32 oz mason jar and not enough for a 64 oz jar. Perfection would be two 32 oz mason jars filled to the shoulder with about 800 ml each (or one-third more than my half batch).

For the benefit of future-me, the following quantities should yield ~1,600 ml:

Combine the yolks with the sugar. Whisk in the half-and-half first, followed by the bourbon and vanilla (to prevent the alcohol from curdling the yolks). Whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Pour through a fine mesh strainer into two 32 oz mason jars, seal with leak-proof lids, and refrigerate for at least 3 weeks. Serve over ice and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg. Total calories: 3,733, or 198 calories per 85 ml serving.

Eggnog in a Ball jar in the fridge
“See you in 30 days!”

5 Comments

Jackie G

Thanks for reminding me to do this!

Jackie

I would be remiss not to mention that I concur about the blend of brown liquors if only because of the bananifying effect of straight bourbon in anything. All rum ends up too saccharine. All cognac actually rocks but that’s a sad waste of cognac.

Ha, bananification! I really need to get some Buffalo Trace to compare to the Maker’s Mark. I finally tried the latter, and though good, there was one unpleasant note (almost chemical) that I tasted, whereas my memory of the Buffalo Trace was smooth and harmonious all the way through.

I added a link to Adam’s Ragusea’s informative (and timely!) YouTube video, AGE your raw egg eggnog.

I added a parenthetical note about the fat content of whole milk, heavy cream, and half-and-half in the US, in case half-and-half is not available where you live.

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