Every year around mid-November, it swoops in as the harbinger of the holidays – the tall quarts lining grocery store refrigerated shelves, gracing us with its presence for a few wintry months. This rich, sugary, boozy blend that beckons us all to raise a frothy glass with this spirited, special occasion beverage.

No question about it – eggnog belongs to Christmas. This year, make the holidays even more festive by making this seasonal sensation at home. Depending on your guests’ tastes, you can omit the alcohol and still have a fabulous punch for those who want a virgin offering and serve the booze on the side for those party-goers who don’t.

Freshly grated nutmeg is essential here.

Cheers!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 6 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup bourbon, brandy or dark rum

Here’s how:

In a heavy-bottomed pot, thoroughly whisk together the eggs, sugar, salt and milk until homogenous. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the liquid registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from the heat; stir in the spices and vanilla. Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer. Cool to room temperature. Add the cream and refrigerate until very cold.

Stir in the bourbon, brandy or rum, if using (or you can serve it on the side). Ladle into cups and serve with a fresh grating of nutmeg and long cinnamon sticks for stirring.

Makes 4 cups – recipe easily doubles.

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