Who’s drinking… Egg nog?

Egg nog is the new black, in drinks terms at least, and if you’re in with the in-crowd (and your grandparents) this Christmas, this will be your drink of choice. Beloved of all from hip young things to, well, hip old things, egg nog is very definitely back. Here’s the low down…

Well no, it’s generally served warm actually. You can have it chilled, but at Christmas we consider that to be a bit, well, wrong, and seeing as you’re not going to drink it at any other time of the year, it looks like the chilled version is out. You may remember your grandparents drinking it, but it is now served up alongside that once-maligned and now-ubiquitous Christmas warmer, gluwein, in all the smart places.

It’s the grown-up and surprsingly delicious version of nursery milk and if you drink enough of it, it will give you a heart attack, which is very grown up. It is traditionally made with milk, cream, sugar, whipped egg yolks and whites, cinnamon or nutmeg, brandy, rum or whisky. Nog, apparently, is an old American term meaning strong ale, while the drink itself probably dates back to a medieval posset.

Warm for breakfast, warm for supper, warm with afternoon cake. Chilled when you want to stay awake.

Serve it instead of custard with mince pies, Christmas pudding or – joy unconfined – poured over cold vanilla ice cream.

To serve 8:
700ml whole milk
240ml double cream
3 cinnamon sticks
1 vanilla bean pod, split and seeds removed
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg, plus more for garnish
5 eggs, separated
130g caster sugar
175ml dark rum, cream sherry, madeira or brandy

Put the milk, cream, cinnamon, vanilla pod, vanilla seeds and nutmeg in a saucepan and bring to a boil over a medium heat. Take off the heat and set aside until cool to allow the flavours to infuse into the milk and cream.

Beat the egg yolks and sugar until they are combined into a smooth, thickened batter. Remove the vanilla pod from the milk and whisk the milk it into the egg and sugar micture, mixing until smooth. Gently stir in the acohol and refrigerate overnight.

Before serving, beat the egg whites in a large bowl until you have soft peaks. Gently fold into the egg nog and serve in glasses garnished with freshly grated nutmeg.

Egg, dairy and booze-free version:
Place 700ml coconut or almond milk, 3 tbsp maple syrup, 1 tsp vanilla extract, ½ tsp ground nutmeg, ¼ tsp ground ginger, ¼ tsp allspice and ½ tsp rum extract in a bowl or stand mixer and whisk together. Serve immediately, with a little grated nutmeg over the top.

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