Eggnog has been a beloved holiday drink since it originated in England and made its way to America in the 1700s with the arrival of European settlers. It has taken many shapes and forms throughout time, as various spirits progressively gained and waned in popularity. Many versions exist, each representative of the cocktail’s evolution.
The name was formed from two words: grog, another word for rum (a popular spirit in Britain at the time), and noggins, a word for the small wooden mugs in which the drink was traditionally served. Today, many Eggnog recipes are based around whiskey, but this was an evolution that happened only once rye, and later bourbon, became the preferred spirits in American and rum’s popularity fell.
The key components that define an Eggnog are eggs, cream, sugar, spice, and a spirit, but the classic formula is ripe for experimentation. Try the original, or shake up your holiday parties with these riffs.
You can’t go wrong with the classic. For this recipe, egg yolks and whites are beaten separately with the other ingredients (sugar, whole milk, heavy cream, and your spirit of choice), then recombined to produce a luscious texture.
Bar pro Derek Brown adapted this recipe from a 1945 issue of Gourmet magazine. Although he mostly relies on traditional Eggnog ingredients and techniques, Brown uses VS cognac and Jamaican rum for the base spirits. Make a batch and spread plenty of joy at your holiday parties: It serves 25.
Los Angeles bartender Beau de Bois uses a trio of spirits in this herbaceous Eggnog variation: armagnac, rum, and fernet. He combines them right in the shaker with a whole egg, sugar, and nutmeg. (You'll want to give the drink a dry shake before adding ice to emulsify the ingredients.) Garnish with black pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg for additional spice notes.
Uncle Angelo’s Eggnog
King Cocktail himself, Dale DeGroff, came up with this Eggnog that features a split base of bourbon and sweeter fruit-forward brandy. The egg whites and yolks are separated and mixed with the other ingredients, then eventually combined, yielding a fluffy yet rich version of the drink.Continue to 5 of 11 below.
For this seasonal spin on the classic, which serves 16, Las Vegas bartender Tony Abou-Gamin adds pumpkin puree to a rich combination of light rum, eggs, whole milk, sugar, vanilla extract, and cinnamon. Serve out of Martini glasses for an extra-festive presentation.
Bar legend Jeffrey Morgenthaler doesn’t mess around when it comes to his Eggnog. His Spiced Eggnog recipe pays tribute to the drink’s roots with a spiced rum as the secondary spirit; the primary base is brandy, which is commonly used in many contemporary versions of the drink. Heavy cream and whole milk, sugar, two eggs, and some nutmeg tie it all together to form a crowd-pleasing version of the classic.
Never thought tequila would make an appearance in Eggnog? Think again. For his take on Eggnog, San Francisco cocktail pioneer H. Joseph Ehrmann first blends añejo tequila with amontillado sherry and lets the mixture age for three months. “You’ll usually get nice citrus notes, which are highlighted by the toasted orange oils sprayed on the surface,” he says. “And the sherry notes add a buttery and nutty quality.” If you didn’t begin preparing the drink in September, you can forego the aging, but it will give the cocktail additional complexity. If you prefer a bit more punch in your Eggnog, consider bolstering the alcohol content with a touch more tequila or sherry. ’Tis the season, after all.
Many Caribbean islands have their own Eggnog-adjacent beverages (for example, Haiti’s Kremas or Cuba’s Crema de Vie). Puerto Rican Coquito is arguably the most popular of the bunch. The rum-based cocktail is the only eggless drink on this list, but Coco Lopez cream of coconut provides plenty of richness, along with evaporated and condensed milks. If you really want to up your Coquito game, try developing your own rum blend for nuanced flavor.Continue to 9 of 11 below.
Before there was Eggnog, there was Posset, a milky beer-based drink that originated in medieval Britain. This modern version from Olmsted in Brooklyn, New York, employs an IPA base. The beer goes into a slow cooker along with eggs, cream, sugar, porter, Strega, allspice dram, velvet falernum, and a sachet of holiday spices, producing a warming drink that serves a dozen.
The Spice Is Right
For this riff, bartender Nate Wood cleverly employs Eggnog as an ingredient. He adds rye whiskey, allspice dram, chile liqueur, and cinnamon syrup to produce a complex, wintery spice bomb of a drink; a pineapple rum base adds a welcome sweetness.
Although it calls for an egg, heavy cream, and bourbon, this isn’t your typical Nog. Bar pro Morgan Schick adds brown sugar syrup for depth and sweetness, orange juice for a delicate brightness, and Heering cherry liqueur, producing a combination with flavors reminiscent of a fruity holiday cake. The Trick Nog does involve a few more ingredients than the classic, but it’s bound to wow guests—and can be made right in the shaker.