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Mix it Up: The Fireside Chat

Warm up with this dangerously smooth, made-from-scratch eggnog.

Eggnog is kind of an oddity in the cocktail world: its most common form is a pre-mixed carton (sans booze) you buy at the grocery store, it's only really seasonally appropriate for a few weeks in December, and a striking amount of people claim to not care for the stuff at all.

They haven't tried this version. It's a custom creation made for us by expert bartender Sam Johnson, who you'll most often find him behind the bar at Clover Club in Brooklyn (one of the city's best cocktail bars). It's softly sweet, lightly spiced, and way too easy to drink – you could knock back a few of them and be well on your way to a boozy evening before you know it. It's about a hundred times better than the pre-made stuff, and is guaranteed to impress any guests you have over during the holiday season.

We've explored the history and basic components of eggnog before, so we won't get into it too much now, but here are the basics: the drink stretches all the way back to medieval Britain, and modern-day versions involve some combination of cream, a fresh egg, and booze. The specific spirit(s) are up for debate – brandy, rum, and bourbon have all been used historically, and different people will have their own different spins. This one uses a base of bourbon, plus a little bit of Amontillado sherry and creme de cacao for a more layered flavor.


The Egg

Yes, this recipe, like most other from-scratch eggnogs, calls for a raw egg. And yes, it's fine to drink. Salmonella is incredibly rare and has only gotten rarer in recent years as more and more safety measures have been adopted by producers, so your risk of finding yourself with a salmonella-infected egg is astronomically small to begin with. And if you're extraordinarily unlucky and end up with a tainted egg, common kitchen practices (keeping your eggs refrigerated, and buying them as fresh as possible) will greatly minimize any damage that salmonella bacteria could have on you.

If you want to make absolutely sure that you'll be safe, you can use a pasteurized egg. But it's not really necessary.


The Dry Shake

After the ingredients are measured and poured into a tin, Sam shakes this drink twice – first without ice, and then a second time with. The sans-ice one is called "dry shaking," since you're crashing all of your ingredients into each other without any ice to melt and dilute the drink with water.

Why? Well, breaking down the proteins in an egg and whipping it – plus the rest of your ingredients – into a foamy, rich, and silky-smooth texture requires a lot of very vigorous shaking. If you were to add your ice right away and just give everything a long, hard shake right off the bat, you'd dilute the drink way too much and end up with weak and watery eggnog. Hence the two-step method: you dry shake first, then add ice and briefly shake again to chill everything down before pouring.


The Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1.5 oz bourbon
  • .5 oz Amontillado sherry
  • .5 oz white creme de cacao
  • .5 oz cane syrup
  • .25 oz fresh cream
  • 3 dashes Peychaud's bitters
  • 1 whole fresh egg

Preparation

  1. Make the cane syrup by whisking two parts cane sugar into one part water over medium heat in a saucepan, then allowing it to cool.
  2. Measure and add all of your ingredients to a shaker tin and vigorously shake without ice (called "dry shaking") to better emulsify the mix.
  3. Open the tin back up, add ice, and shake again.
  4. Strain into a chilled glass and top with grated cinnamon.
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