BARTENDING: EGG NOG: Christmas and whenever you want it and however you want it.

Egg Nog is the drink for the holidays.

Although “Happy Holidays” is not a phrase in my lexicon, ‘Happy Thanksgiving’, ‘Happy Hanukkah’, ‘Merry Christmas’ and ‘Happy New Year’ are my greetings; ‘Happy Holidays’ is indeed appropriate for this beverage which makes its appearance around the 2nd week in November and stays in stores until the Super Bowl.

(Is the Super Bowl one of the ‘holidays’ given its near universal observance?  Get back to me on this).

A variety of commercial versions compete for our gullets and waistlines from smarmy canned crap, a hint of Styrofoam is not an “enhancement of the flavor profile,” to the fresh concoctions offered by hotel bars.  Agribusiness biggies such as Bordens’ and New England behemoth West Lynn Creamery offer substantial, albeit bland versions.

I grew up with the Sealtest and Borden’s brands purchased by my Mom at the drive-through at the Port Washington, Long Island local Dairy Barn whose slot-lettered sign would advertise EGG NOG .99/QT.  The product was very thick and redolent of more cinnamon than nutmeg.

My Mom would add a dusting of nutmeg for authenticity for my brother Peter and I while she would add a dash of sherry to hers.

(My Dad did not participate in our little bacchanal as his diabetes prevented this numbingly sweet concoction from being in his diet.  I felt sorry for him).

When I turned 13 I was allowed the privilege of getting a sly hint of sherry in my egg nog that was precisely analogous to my puberty.

Once I moved to Boston in 1978 egg nog became one of those things that I only consumed at my ancestral home.  I had become a lacto-ovo vegetarian in 1979 and my palette no longer enjoyed heavy cream.  Additionally, I had virtually eliminated refined sugar from my diet so as to sidestep my inherited predisposition to diabetes.

Years pass and egg nog became roughly akin to visiting Santa in Roosevelt Field, just one of those kid things that I used to do.

By 1983 I was in the embryonic phase of my bartending “career” at Cornwalls’ in Kenmore Square, Boston.  My co-worker Stan Pace had a fondness for egg nog.  Years before “craft” bartending showed up on anyone’s radar screens Stan’s ingenuity and entrepreneurial drive lead him to made egg nog by individual servings.  This recipe that follows is his:

EGG NOG

8 oz. whole milk

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 egg

1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract or 1 tablespoon vanilla flavoring

1 dash nutmeg

1 dash cinnamon

1 1/2 oz. brandy

2 ice cubes, 4 if cocktail cubes

Combine all ingredients in 16 oz. mixing glass.  Place cocktail shaker can over the top, turn over and shake until the can frosts over or your fingers turn numb.
Shake, break and pour into 12 oz. glass and dust with nutmeg.

Serve with cinnamon stick stirrer.

Variations:  Some folks prefer sherry, as did my Mom.  This makes for a touch of bittersweet in the aftertaste and a lovely bouquet.  Traditionalists might opt for an English style rum such as Mount Gay or Pusser’s Navy Rum that Harry and Kate might savor in Buckingham Palace.

I prefer brandy as it gives a little flame of burn that cuts the sweetness and lightens the mouth feel.

For  a lighter drink relatively low in fat substitute 1 egg white.  A cocktail strainer, the Hawthorne coil, is great for this purpose and is a worthwhile weapon in your kitchen arsenal.

I have made this drink in my home blender.  For my Farberware FSB100 I put the ingredients in the pitcher, add 2 ice cubes and hold down the ‘Pulse’ button for a 5 count.  This gives a pleasing balance of froth and thickness.

This drink can be served hot via microwave.  Utilizing full power heat until the first bubble appears.  Keep this method under close watch as it can scorch and separate to no good effect.  When done well hot egg nog brings a warm feel into the mix.

If the Super Bowl does become an official holiday the NFL would do well to license a

HOT SUPER BOWL EGG NOG.

Roger Goodell, please get in touch with my agent to arrange an appropriate royalty schedule.

The beauty of egg nog is that every version is right!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS

!!!  EGG NOG  !!!

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