A drink that’s synonymous with the winter holidays, eggnog is benefiting from a premium push on cocktail menus as bartenders incorporate the sweet beverage into a range of creative concoctions for the winter months. Eggnog’s nostalgia factor and versatile spice component complement several spirits, from rum and brandy to Bourbon and Scotch. Bartenders often make their own eggnogs to add an upscale feel and cater to their more sophisticated guests.
“Serving eggnog during the holidays evokes wonderful festive memories,” says Jim Lunchick, a mixologist at Merriman’s Restaurant in Waimea, Hawaii. “We make our own rather than purchase a premixed eggnog because we prefer something a bit lighter and not as filling as the milkshake-like, mass-produced version.” Merriman’s Coconut Milk Eggnog Cocktail ($14) is made with Old Forester Bourbon, Licor 43 and the house-made eggnog, which includes coconut milk and whole milk, eggs, sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon. The cocktail is topped with whipped cream and fresh-grated nutmeg. “We like the interplay of Bourbon and vanilla with our eggnog,” Lunchick explains. “The quality of the eggnog affects not only the taste of the drink, but its texture as well.”
Thomas Latosone, the bar manager at Miami Beach’s Pan-Asian eatery Tanuki, also makes his own eggnog for winter cocktails. He emphasizes its sweet, creamy and frothy attributes, noting that it works well with spirits that have bold and spicy flavors like Cognac, Bourbon, amaretto and Frangelico liqueur. Tanuki offers two eggnog drinks, The Old ’Nog ($15)—mixing vanilla-infused Maker’s Mark Bourbon with Frangelico liqueur and eggnog—and the Frozen Eggnog ($15), comprising Hennessy VSOP Cognac, Mozart White Chocolate Vanilla Cream liqueur, almond syrup and eggnog. “Eggnog is very versatile and acts perfectly in a dessert cocktail or in a drink on a cold night,” Latosone says. “It can be seen as a sophisticated mixology ingredient, but it depends on how you present it, serve it and mix it.”
Guests of The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards in Livermore, California, also enjoy the venue’s house-made eggnog during the winter months. Caitlin Mackey, the restaurant’s general manager, makes eggnog with cream, milk, egg yolks, sugar, vanilla bean, burnt cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. For her cocktail The Nogg ($14), she mixes it with Angel’s Envy Bourbon and Cruzan Spiced rum, garnished with fresh shaved nutmeg. “The eggnog is deliciously creamy and allows the flavors of the other ingredients and spices to shine through,” Mackey says. “Our customers love our eggnog and can taste the difference between ours and a store-bought variety. They really enjoy the eggnog and the cocktail, which is pretty boozy.”
At Poggio Trattoria in Sausalito, California, eggnog earns a place on the menu all day, starting with lattes in the morning and continuing through to cocktails later in the day. The venue’s Mr. Fezziwig ($11) is made with Oban 14-year-old single malt Scotch whisky, Peychaud’s bitters, Carpano Antica Formula Sweet vermouth and eggnog, garnished with a Luxardo cherry. “The eggnog is pretty subtle when mixed with Scotch and sweet vermouth,” lead bartender Jorge Canche explains. “People love the drink. They like the nostalgia factor and are surprised by how delicious it is.”