Got Eggnog?

Richmond bartenders share their recipes for the classic holiday libation

Eggnog cocktail from Alewife in Richmond, VA
Katy Best's Eggnog variation. Photo by @shawnee_custalo

Richmond midwinter can be an enchanting place, where neighbors will come together to push a stuck car free of a snowbank; where people hit the streets with shovels and parkas, hailing friends and clearing sidewalks and slip-sliding down Jefferson Park’s backside on city trashcan lids and other makeshift sleds. Sweaters and boots, strings of lights and tinsel, snowplows and snow days, family get-togethers and Christmas songs on every speaker — it’s that time of year again, folks, whether you like it or not.

There’s one drink that pairs perfectly with the jolly season, that everyone should know how to make. A cocktail that warms you despite being served cold, that’s uplifting — though it’s creamy and heavy — and beatifies though it’s sinful and rich.

I’m talking of course, about eggnog.

The product of a long-forgotten imperial British booze binge, eggnog has been a holiday staple for generations, with most recipes calling for a dozen eggs whipped with booze and cream. There are also those cartons found in your local supermarket — but let’s disregard those.

The primary discussion about eggnog revolves around how long it should be aged and how best to store it. The frothy mix has enough sugar and alcohol — 20% ABV is the standard — to preserve it for months or longer, as long as it remains cold and sealed. During that time flavors blend, meld and enrich each other. But what if you just want a quick cup of nog on the fly?

Katy Best, bar manager at Alewife, offers this delicious, and speedy, recipe, a mashup of the Midcentury classic cocktail the Golden Cadillac. Picture eating Golden Grahams by the fire in your PJs.

All I Want for Xmas Is a Golden Cadillac – Katy Best, Alewife in Richmond, VA

1 ounce Copper & Kings Brandy 3/4 ounce Galliano 1/2 ounce Tempus Fugit Creme de Cacao 1/2 ounce whipping cream 1/2 ounce buttermilk 1/4 ounce rich Demerara syrup (A 2:1 ratio of sugar to water) 1 whole egg Nutmeg

Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously 60 times. Garnish with grated nutmeg. Lazy option: Strain into a chilled goblet or punch cup. Silky option: Strain into a shaker without ice and shake again vigorously 40 times. Serve in a chilled glass.

Pumpkin-Spiced Eggnog – Erin Jameson, L'Opossum in Richmond, VA

At L’Opossum, Erin Jameson whips up multiple batches ahead of time to age and serve throughout the season. Psst! It’s pumpkin spiced. Makes 1 gallon: 24 egg yolks 2 pounds granulated sugar 1 quart heavy cream 1 quart half and half 2 cups whole milk 2 teaspoons grated nutmeg 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 2 teaspoons kosher salt 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

6 1/4 ounces Woodford Bourbon 17 ounces El Dorado 5yr Rum 5 1/4 ounces Pumpkin Cordial (recipe below)

Separate the eggs and store the whites for another purpose. Beat the yolks with the sugar and nutmeg in a large mixing bowl until the mixture lightens in color and falls off the whisk in a solid “ribbon.” 

Combine dairy, booze and salt in a second bowl or pitcher and then slowly beat into the egg mixture. Store in the fridge for a minimum of 2 weeks. Garnish with grated nutmeg

For the Pumpkin Cordial The secret recipe is made by steeping roasted pumpkin puree in gin mixed with sugar and spices (clove, cinnamon, ginger, vanilla bean), tasting until it’s right, then filtering out the solids. 

Erin says, “I like to use Citadelle gin as it has fantastic underlying notes of cardamom. The gin also provides a lightness to a super rich drink.”

Coquito recipe – Brandon Peck, The Jasper in Richmond, VA

Onward to The Jasper, where if you’re lucky you can still get some of Brandon Peck’s coquito, a Puerto Rican yuletide cousin of eggnog using rum, cinnamon, coconut, and sweetened condensed milk (but no eggs).

Makes 1 gallon: 3 cans (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk 4 cans (12 ounces) evaporated milk 2 cans Coco Lopez coconut cream 4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

10 ounces Plantation 3 Star rum 10 ounces Bacardi 8 rum 5 ounces Chairman’s Reserve spiced rum

Add all ingredients to a large container and use a stick blender to fully incorporate everything.  Refrigerate at least overnight in an airtight container.  Shake well before serving; serve cold and dust with grated nutmeg.