We have a holiday tradition that requires we have eggnog on hand for Christmas Eve. Now I can make my own great eggnog for family and friends; it’s simply the BEST!
A few weeks ago I heard from my good friends at Maker’s Mark wondering if I would like to participate in a #GetCozyCocktail challenge to make some Homemade Eggnog with their Maker’s 46® Bourbon for the holidays. I’m not sure I’ve ever made eggnog. I know, hard to believe right? The truth is that there is a local dairy that has been making home deliveries for as long as I’ve lived in Denver and their eggnog is so amazing that I never consider anything else. I don’t even use the service anymore but I know which neighbors do and all I have to do is ask them to order a bottle for me. I thought it the best…until now. You give me a challenge and I’m on it!
And what a challenge it was. I had NO idea that there was so much variety and by variety I mean opinions. For an eggnog novice there is so much to consider. Raw eggs or pasteurized. Cooked or not? Seasoned or not? Time to meld (and hopefully not spoil)? What type of booze and how much? I mean it was mind boggling. I guess the good part is I saw a lot of variety and through that research I’ve sort of come up with my own thing. I’m even surprised at part of the path I decided to take to end up with this Homemade Vanilla Eggnog with Bourbon.
In a nutshell I chose to cook it, season with spices, and steep with bourbon for a bit but not for weeks, just days. The cooking was the part that I struggled with the most because I’ve never had a problem with raw eggs in a couple of my favorite things, most notably this Grilled Caesar Salad and both versions I make of French Silk Pie. I do take the step of washing the outside of fresh (and I mean really fresh) eggs with an antibacterial soap as a safety precaution but this time around decided to go full bore safe mode. Why? Mostly because of the passel of young kids hanging around with me these days; I wanted something I could offer them too and not worry one bit about whether it would harm them. I also have a neighbor who is a nursing mom and wanted the same precaution for her. I actually doubled the recipe I’ve included and did one half virgin and one half the real deal; now everyone can enjoy!
Adding liquor to the combination of milk and eggs is a deterrent to spoiling and I get that; alcohol can actually have a purpose. Still for it to do the best job it needs to age for several weeks. I really wanted something that you, the people who read this blog, could actually make and serve this weekend if you wanted to! Probably one of the biggest choices I made was born more out of necessity than intention and that was to use milk and half and half.
The majority of the recipes I perused called for heavy cream and then indicated that adding whipped egg whites before serving would help to thin it out a bit. How about if I don’t make it that thick in the first place so it doesn’t require thinning out? Especially since I’m going the pasteurization route with some heat and that effort would be totally negated if I added raw meringue at the end. Done.
Seasoning eggnog was a unique step but I thought I would give it a shot. I love vanilla bean ice cream so much better than plain so why not try eggnog with one of my favorites? Although nutmeg might be a given, adding a bit of cinnamon was a leap of faith but they are two aromatic spices that work so well together I expected it to work and it did. OMG Good!
Although my heart beats red for regular Maker’s Mark, this time around I had a new product to try, their Maker’s 46®. Only new because someone, somewhere absconded with a bottle that the local rep had given me as a gift. Seriously? The problem with having so much booze in the house is that people think I will forget. They are wrong…I never figured out who but I’ve never forgotten either. So I was excited to try this new kid on the block. Maker’s Mark did send me that bottle and yes, those earmuffs for the bottle; I wanted you to get a giggle like I did; so dang cute!
Over the years, whenever the President of Maker’s Mark®, Bill Samuels, Jr., was out spreading the word about his baby, fans of the brand would ask him when he was going to introduce something new. Not being a big believer in “line extensions,” Bill pretty much ignored them for a good long while. But a couple of years ago, he and then Master Distiller Kevin Smith decided to give it a try. To give them the best chance at success, they called in Brad Boswell of Independent Stave, the cooperage that has been making oak barrels to the specifications of Bill Samuels, Sr., since 1953. After more than a few false starts and outright disasters, all three agreed that whatever “it” might be had to start with regular Maker’s Mark®.
So Brad started monkeying around with a special barrel and experimenting with different wood varieties and levels of char. The magic combination – which just happened to be trial #46 with 10 “seared” French oak staves inserted into the barrel to lend natural flavors of caramel, vanilla and spice. Finished Maker’s Mark was then added to the modified barrel and returned to the coolest part of the warehouse. About 10 weeks later, voilà – they had something noticeably bigger and bolder, but with the smoothness and drink-ability that has always set Maker’s Mark apart from its peers.
They call it Maker’s 46®, in recognition of the winning recipe. It’s a totally new kind of bourbon: bold and complex, but as approachable and easy to drink as you’d expect from Maker’s Mark. Now that I have tried it? OK, now I really need to know who took that bottle!
This combination is heavenly…which is sort of perfect for Christmas isn’t it? Just thick enough, just sweet enough with a touch of vanilla, just enough warm spices, the perfect amount of bourbon (if you don’t agree, go on, add a bit more) and all hopefully combined with a comfy place to sit, get cozy and enjoy. I do hope you’ll try this; every time I take a small taste my eyes roll back and a YUM slips off of my tongue…yes it really is THAT good!
Homemade Vanilla Eggnog with Bourbon
- 2 cups milk
- 2 cups half and half
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 vanilla bean (split & scraped)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 6 egg yolks
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 4 oz bourbon (or to taste)
- Bring the milk, half and half, cinnamon sticks, vanilla bean and nutmeg just to a boil in a medium saucepan on low heat.
- Beat egg yolks and sugar in medium bowl until pale yellow in color and fluffy.
- Gradually add one cup of the hot milk mixture to the egg yolks, beating with a wire whisk on low speed..
- Gradually whisk the egg yolk, sugar and milk mixture back into the remaining milk in the saucepan.
- Cook and stir on medium-low heat for 3 – 5 minutes or until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Do not rush this stage or your mixture could curdle.
- Strain into a large bowl. Pour into a container and allow to cool. Add bourbon, cover tightly and refrigerate overnight or until well chilled. Best if allowed to meld for 2-3 days but can be served immediately.
- Fill lowball glasses with ice, pour bourbon eggnog mixture over ice and dust with nutmeg.
If wanting to serve without the bourbon; simply follow the directions as given and omit the liquor.
I was provided with product and additional amenities by Maker’s Mark however all commentary is my own.