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Recipe: Real, Traditional, Get-Your-Guests-Wasted Eggnog From My Great Grandmother

Don’t even think about getting store-bought eggnog this season, because now you have a recipe for eggnog that is probably a century old.

The women in my family have passed this recipe down for generations. It supposedly originated with my great grandmother, who would serve it to her guests in Mississippi. Since then, it’s been getting Christmas party guests inebriated since the early 20th century. When my cousin’s wife served it at their Christmas party, a lady fell off the front porch. That, my friends, is a successful party.

Best of all, this vehicle for alcohol tastes sort of like a cream-filled donut. It might put you off when you realize you’re drinking eggs, but consider that this recipe is only a a cup of flour away from a pastry. Plus, every third delicious cocktail mixed in the city these days includes egg whites for a nice frothy topper. Even if you or your guests don’t consider themselves “eggnog people,” give them a sip and they will be converts.

Just a few things to note about this recipe:

1. I recommend you get free-range, organic eggs, from the farmer’s market if possible. We’ve never had an issue in all family’s years of making this recipe, because the alcohol zaps any bacteria that could be in the raw eggs, and salmonella is actually quite rare in any case.  But from a taste and environmental standpoint, I personally feel much better knowing my eggs came from a nearby farm instead of a large operation with hens penned into tiny, dirty cages. It also will just taste better with those rich, deep yellow yolks.

Free range eggs
It’s important to use free-range eggs, ideally from your farmer’s market, for eggnog.

2. The original recipe calls for four cups of bourbon, which is a liter of 80-proof alcohol. My aunt cuts that in half. I use three cups, which is the amount in a bottle of Bulleit. It’s up to you and your own moral compass, but you need to use enough to kill bacteria.

This recipe calls for four cups of bourbon.
This recipe calls for four cups of bourbon. Proceed at your own risk.

Preparation time: 15 minutes active, four hours total, with option to let stand overnight. Makes two pitchers. 

12 eggs, separated. (Store egg whites in fridge.)

1 lb confectioners or powdered sugar

2 to 4 cups bourbon (see above)

1 quart whipping cream and 1 quart half and half (or any other heavy cream you might find)

Freshly grated nutmeg (or, if you’re like most people, a pinch from a jar of grated nutmeg)

  • Preset radio to an all-Christmas station.
  • Beat the yolks until they are light in color.
  • Beat in gradually 1 pound of confectioners sugar.
  • Add very slowly, beating constantly, 1 to 2 cups of bourbon.
  • Let mixture stand covered for 1 hour to “dispel the eggy taste.”
  • Then add 1 to 2 more cups of bourbon.
  • Add 1 quart of whipping cream and 1 quart of half and half.
  • Refrigerate covered for three hours.
  • Beat until stiff (but not dry) 12 egg whites.
  • Fold them lightly into the other ingredients.
  • Store for three days to let the taste develop.
  • Serve with a pinch of nutmeg in a clear rock glass.
  • Due to bourbon, eggnog mixture will keep for three weeks or more. Make it at the beginning of the season for a welcome treat for guests!
Traditional eggnog recipe
This traditional eggnog recipe has been getting Christmas revelers schnockered for a century.

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