When it comes to eggs, fresh is usually best. But this holiday season, you may find aged eggnog in your cup. A growing number of bartenders are experimenting with aging eggnog for months, or even years.
At Willa Jean in New Orleans, baker Lisa White offers a rich, creamy Creole Eggnog, which sits in the refrigerator for three months before serving.
“It’s similar to baking,” says White, who frequently dabbles with limoncellos and other DIY liqueurs. “You have to make it, and then you wait.”
She likens her version to zabaglione, a custard-like Italian dessert. It’s made with cooked eggs and sugar, cold-brew coffee, orange zest and spices, plus plenty of Bourbon, applejack and pecan liqueur. She stores it in a refrigerator and whisks the mixture daily. Eventually, the alcohol mellows and the eggnog thickens to a luxurious, velvety consistency.
At Spago Beverly Hills, the aged Dirty Eggnog draws inspiration from trendy barrel-aged cocktails. A rum mixture (Meyers Dark Rum, Rémy VSOP Cognac and simple syrup) rests in a barrel for about two months. Just before serving, it’s shaken with a whole egg and heavy cream for a decadent holiday libation.
But Nick Bennett, head bartender at New York City’s Porchlight, recently cracked open the elder statesman of eggnogs, aged for two years.
He won’t be serving it at Porchlight—it’s strictly a holiday treat for friends. But after a stint working at the famously science-minded Booker & Dax, with its centrifuges and liquid-nitrogen tanks, Bennett is familiar with pushing the limits of boozy experiments.
“My base recipe is eggs, sugar, Elijah Craig 12 Bourbon, Louis Royer Force 53 Cognac and Ron Zacapa dark solera-style rum and a big pinch of salt,” Bennett says.
He seals the eggnog in glass jars and stores it in a dark cabinet for at least a year (or longer if he forgets about it, as he did the two-year-old variation). The time marries the flavors and takes the heat out of the overproof liquors.
“I’m aging an egg product, and I want the highest-proof [liquors] because I want to kill off everything,” he says.
Come holiday time, he shakes the base with whole milk and a splash of heavy cream, and finally grates fresh nutmeg over the top.
“Then you say a prayer and sip it,” he jokes.
Although the accidental two-year-old eggnog was consumed last year (maximum revelry, zero casualties, he says), Bennett already has a fresh stash of jars put aside. And he plans to push the boundaries further, with some of that eggnog intended to age for three years.
TRY THE TREND AT HOME: Creole Eggnog
Recipe courtesy Lisa White, baker, Willa Jean, New Orleans
7 pasteurized whole eggs
¼ cup white sugar
¼ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup dark brown sugar
¾ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon ground mace
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¾ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
¾ teaspoon freshly ground cinnamon stick
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon kosher sea salt
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon Angostura bitters
¼ cup Four Roses Bourbon
¾ cup Bayou Spiced Rum
¾ cup Rivulet Pecan Liqueur
¾ cup applejack
¾ gallon half and half
¼ cup cold-brew coffee
Peel from ½ of an orange, zested or cut into strips
Place whole eggs and sugars into a mixer with a whisk attachment. Mix for approximately 10 minutes, or until it thickens slightly. Scrape mixture into a large bowl.
Whisk spices into mixture, followed by bitters and alcohol. Add half and half and coffee, continuing to whisk slowly. When finished, drop in the orange zest. Cover the bowl tightly and store in the refrigerator.
Shake or stir the containers daily for 30 days. The mixture will mellow and become creamier as it ages.
After 30 days, strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve and serve.