I never had eggnog growing up. The holiday drink of choice was served in the basement of my Aunt Mary's house (she just had a heart attack, so send out some love), where my uncle's bar was filled with strange Amari that were decades old, surmounted by a Playboy puzzle centerfold carefully screened with a festive holiday kerchief hiding all the good parts. My dad made a perverted White Russian-a milkshake (made with food supply milkshake mix, not ice cream), Kahlua and any available clear spirit (rum, I think). Italians love weird liquors, so the Kahlua was the appeal for most everyone. I don't know how they denatured it for the kids. Maybe we just got smaller glasses.
I had a general aversion to custards of all kinds (the word always sounds like 'mucous' to me), but also never realized the relationship between flan and custard. Hey! I was young. But after that became clear, the wall came down: tapioca, Pink Ladies and BÃƒÂ©arnaise sauce. If you put an egg in it, I will come. I got late into the eggnog game, and dovetailing with this interest seems to be the complete disappearance of the stuff from grocery store shelves everywhere. Particularly those in dying industrial Ohio, where asking a former steelworker, now shelver at Giant Eagle, for organic eggnog seems a bit precious. A few years back, in very Mom-fashion, mine parried my frustration with "why don't you just make it?"
I'm not going to pretend some family member whispered the secret word in my ear and a cookbook arose from mud-I found this recipe the same way I find decent porn: the internet. And I'm not going to transcribe it because every year it's in the top two in Google searches (you think I bookmark this?) for 'eggnog recipe.' This indicates that either no one makes eggnog anymore, or that this single serving site is a mastery of SEO and anyone who makes a living running a blog deserves all the AdWords revenue they can garner.
But! Some notes: Bourbon. Yes, two cups. I won't deny that this was the ingredient that first drew me to the recipe. Don't be afraid in the prep when you are getting close to the brim-and using a large measuring cup is all the more fun. Seeing two cups of bourbon provides the simultaneous frisson of being a teenager doing something absurd and naughty and a middle-aged alcoholic sense of relief that whatever you did to rationalize your first drink of the day is now past and you can get to work (look-it's a holiday! Drinking eggnog at 11:00 AM on Christmas? Practically required). Two cups still won't be enough, but it's a good base. For the bourbon and brandy, go cheap and strong (this year's bourbon is Wild Turkey 101, and the brandy is whatever pint I bought and left at the 'rents last year)-you can't taste any notes besides cream cream cream.
For everything else: go pricey. Off the shelf eggnog-if you can even find it any more-is probably cheaper, and pasteurized and pectinized and lecithinized, so generic anything won't help you. You are drinking raw eggs here people, and organic eggs taste better and hopefully reduce the salmonella risk.
If you intend to make and drink right away, note that it will be pretty foamy right off. If you are used to the more slightly more viscous version from a carton, let it chill a bit. Both ways have their merit. And, as noted, think of the mandated bourbon as a base, and add, individually, to taste. Turns out you can add a considerable amount to a glass without the alcohol diluting the nog. Merry Christmas, Jews.
Nic Musolino is currently: a little drunk.