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Noggy Is Nice

Forget the classic egg nog this holiday season--a quick, cocktail-shaker version is the way to go

Matthew DeBord
Posted: December 20, 2002

Egg nog is hard.

Well, not necessarily. Not if you do as many nogophiles do this time of year and pick up a few quarts of the industrial grade stuff at the supermarket, then spike it with liquor.

That's cheating.

No, egg nog gets rough when you go Martha Stewart and make it at home. Then you're into separating eggs, whisking the yolks and whites until your arm aches, folding the various components together, working in the booze…

Ai-yi-yi. And this doesn't even take into account the fact that most classic egg-nog recipes are designed to whip up enough nog to relax a roomful of holiday guests. A dozen eggs, half a sack of sugar, much milk, much cream. A healthy infusion of firewater.

It's true that such a large quantity of nog can be very festive, and furthermore will probably garner you a reputation as some kind of Falstaffian holiday harbinger. "Glade yule, goode fellowes all!"

But what if you're in the mood for something quicker? A turbo-nog, if you will? A five-minute nog. Not nog for the numerous. Nog for one.

Easy. But before we get into cocktail nog, a little background.

Egg nog isn't exactly a cocktail--not in the modern sense, anyway--but it is a fairly old mixed drink. Actually more of a punch. The origins of the name are slightly mysterious, so in order to sort it all out, I asked a friend of mine, Jesse Sheidlower, an editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, to give me an authoritative definition.

"Nog," he explained, "is an East Anglian dialect word for a type of strong ale brewed chiefly in Norfolk. Egg-nog is almost exclusively an American word for a drink of eggs mixed with alcohol. Originally rum, as one might expect in eighteenth-century America. The first known example of the word is from 1775."

There you have it. A pre-Declaration of Independence quaff. Older than America itself, the land of the cocktail. Venerable. George Washington probably enjoyed nog all the time.

American colonists made their egg-nog chiefly with rum, because of course they traded profitably with the East Indies, where the libation was produced. And as far as I'm concerned, rum makes the best nog, although it's perfectly legal to use almost any brown spirit, from bourbon to brandy (I would stay away from scotch, however, and watch it with the oakiness factor.) Heck, it's considered good form to mix your pleasures when brewing up nog in volume.

We won't be doing that. We'll be making exactly one tall glass of nog.

Here we go.

QUICKIE COCKTAIL SHAKER EGG NOG

  • 4 ounces dark rum (I advise dialing back the rum by an ounce and adding more milk if you want to keep your wits about you after nog number two, and there's always a nog number two)
  • 2-4 ounces simple syrup (depending on how sweet you want to go)
  • 1 egg
  • 6 ounces milk (a few ounces of heavy cream can also be used, for a thicker nog)
  • Fresh nutmeg

    Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice, leaving the nutmeg aside. Shake for longer than you would normally shake, say, a Martini (you want to make to sure to incorporate the egg and create a nice froth for the nog). Strain into a tall glass and top with freshly grated nutmeg (this makes a difference, trust me).

    Obviously, you could double this recipe--or just turn a tall nog into a short nog by dividing the above quantity into two glasses--and share the results with someone close. Kick back all cozy on the couch for a little holiday nog snog. I tried it. Works beautifully. Who needs mistletoe when you have nog?

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