A Nod to Nog
It’s just a short hop from flip to eggnog. George Washington was kind enough to leave us a formula, and it appears to be considerably more appetizing than his famous beer recipe: “1 pint brandy, 1/2 pint rye whiskey, 1/2 pint Jamaica rum, 1/4 pint sherry, [unspecified number of] eggs, 12 tbsp sugar, 1 1/2 quarts milk, 1 quart cream.” The sugar is creamed into the yolks, then the milk and cream are added, then beaten egg whites. He counsels, “Let set in a cool place for several days, taste frequently.” Yeah, I bet he did.
Contemporary recipes are similar. A typical nonalcoholic procedure has us separate four eggs, beat the yolks with a half a cup of sugar until smooth, mix in 1 1/2 cups of milk and a cup of cream and season with a little nutmeg or mace and sometimes a dash of vanilla before folding in the beaten egg whites. Many recipes call for the cream to be whipped before adding, and I think this does improve the texture. I should mention that the prepared stuff sold in milk cartons is beneath consideration. Make it fresh or don’t bother.
The recipe above makes an ideal base for our experimenting with making beernog. A reasonable approach is to fill a 12-oz glass one-third full of hearty ale, adding a half an ounce of bourbon, rye or dark rum, then topping up with the prepared nog mixture, leaving room for a dollop of whipped froth on top. Really puts you in the holiday spirit.
But what kind of beer is best? In our little test taste, we had success with Anchor Christmas ale, and I expect any similar dark, wassail-y holiday ale would fit right in. Barley wine, imperial stout, doppelbock and Scotch ale all work well, and we even found that the sweet mixture made for a palatable drink even when mixed with a strong, hoppy pale ale, although the bitterness was not to everyone’s taste.
And on Christmas Eve, did you ever think that Santa might be sick of milk and cookies? What he’d really like is beernog! That’ll get the kids their stockings filled.
Note: These eggnog recipes call for raw eggs. While this is traditional and done every day with no harm, some health experts recommend against the practice. If you’re dubious, specially processed eggs made to be consumed raw may be available in a health food store in your area. Otherwise, stick to the heated drinks.