What’s the holiday season without a few healthy doses of lecithin, high fructose corn syrup, E471, and polysorbate 80? This year, kick the store-bought cartons of gelatinous goop to the side and get back to basics. It’s simple and you probably have the ingredients in the house already.
There are a lot of egg nog recipes out there. The drink has been around forever. The one presented here for your gastronomical delight is from How to Mix Drinks or The Bon-Vivant’s Companion by the imitable Jerry Thomas. Published in 1862, it’s still the simplest and most satisfying single-serving egg nog recipe. No cooking involved and as easy to concoct as any recipe on this site.
1 table-spoonful of fine sugar dissolved with
1 table-spoonful of cold water
1 fresh egg
1 wine-glass of Cognac brandy (2 oz.)
1/2 wine-glass Santa Cruz rum (1 oz.)
1/3 tumblerful of milk
Shake up the ingredients until they are thoroughly mixed. Pour the mixture into a goblet excluding the ice, and grate a little nutmeg on top.
I suggest dry shaking the ingredients without ice to emulsify the egg, then add the ice and shake normally. Shake it hard and fast; you want it frothy. For more about mixing egg drinks, see the “How to Mix Drinks” page. The trick here is getting the proportion of milk and sugar correct. 1/3 tumblerful of milk is vague, to say the least. Luckily, it is quite easy to adjust the drink even after it has been shaken and poured into the glass. Between 6 and 8 ounces works well, and you can always add a little more if needed. For best results, use simple syrup in place of the raw sugar and water and adjust to taste. Also, this is quite a boozy egg nog, so one can always exercise moderation…or not.
By the time of the 1887 reprint the recipe had changed slightly, using one ounce each of brandy and rum with the option of using either instead of both. You can use any liquor you like, but whatever you do, don’t leave off that sprinkle of nutmeg.