Eggnog: Getting it Right


Regular readers of this missive will spot the misstatement in the headline. I am not a proponent of tightly defining style nor substance of adult beverages. I am a graduate of the “drink what you like the way you like school.”

That being noted, eggnog, that creamiest of holiday drinks, is a particular type of drink and usually imbibed now, not normally served outside of this season. I guess if you like eggnog so much that August would be okay with you and the proper authorities. But you don’t hear much about a punch bowl loaded with an alcohol-based dairy-product being enjoyed as bikini-clad sun worshippers head back to the air conditioning from a mid-day respite on the beach.

To be sure, eggnog is not an American creation. We Southerners, however, have placed our stamp on the nutmegged delight. Bourbon, which our area of the country produces in great quantity, was never meant to be the core spirit. Europeans ladled on the brandy., Cognac more specifically. Then in the early days of our Republic, rum from our hemisphere was more common, used as the suitable work-around to avoid onerous taxes imposed by our overlords, the English Monarchy (see Revolution, American).

The English are important players in this culinary drama since it was they who invented the mid-winter treat in the first place in the 13th century. Milk does not tend to spoil in the temperatures experienced when days are short in the North Atlantic.

As to the name, eggnog, a nog is actually a peg of wood but it took on the meaning of a wooden cup which was commonly used in taverns to serve alcohol before the days of metal or glass. Or in our case here in New Orleans, a red plastic cup suitable for travel.

If you choose to go the historic, traditional route and use brandy as the main spirit, keep in mind that both the milk and the spirit are sugar-laden. Adding additional sweeteners to the mix will result in a likely spike to the drinker’s glucose levels. It is recommended in most recipes a 5:1 ratio, liquid to spirit. However, if there are no children involved, and given the fact that New Orleans does very much enjoy distilled beverages, maybe increase the alcohol level to something more. What “more” is depends on the maker and the audience.

To make it easy, a 1-quart container will require about 8 ounces of alcohol, or more or less depending on taste.  Here is a relatively easy and quick recipe. Keep in mind that with this suggestion you are already cutting corners on time so don’t skimp on quality ingredients. The ice cream should have a high milk content and the store-bought eggnog should be very good on its own. As for the bourbon and brandy, you don’t need to use the highest and most expensive quality level, but don’t use the cheapest either.


Homemade (?) Eggnog

  • 1 1/2 quarts vanilla bean ice cream
  • 3 cups refrigerated eggnog
  • 3/4 cup (6 oz.) bourbon (or to taste)
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz.) brandy (or to taste)
  • 1/4 cup (2 oz.). orange liqueur (such as Grand Marnier)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg

Process half of the ice cream, and half of the eggnog, bourbon, brandy, and orange liqueur in a blender until frothy, about 45 seconds. Pour mixture into a large serving pitcher or punchbowl. Repeat with remaining mixture ingredients. Mix well. Top with grated nutmeg.


We send to you our very best wishes for a memorable and enjoyable Holiday Season. With the New Year and Carnival upon us, keep the celebrations happy and don’t overdue the beverages followed by an attempt to multi-task, like operate a motor vehicle.

It does not make any difference how lucky you have been in the past. It only takes one instance to impact your life and maybe the lives of others. Have your fun then use good sense. Happy and Safe New Year.






Read Happy Hour here on on Thursdays, and listen to The Dine, Wine and Spirits Show, hosted by Tim, every weekday, 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. on WGSO 990AM and streamed, as well as stored (podcast), at Also, check out Last Call, Tim’s photo-feature about cocktails every month in New Orleans Magazine.



Thanks to Well Done and


Categories: Cocktails, Happy Hour