Cups of Cheer

food & gatherings: 101

It’s not Yuletide until the eggnog starts flowing—and our recipe for the classic drink is particularly festive. We’ve mixed custard with bourbon, rum, and cognac, and then let it chill overnight so the flavors meld completely. A fluffy meringue is folded into the base to produce a light texture, and freshly whipped cream is dolloped on top.

Recipes and food styling By Laura Rege
Photos by BY BRYAn GARdneR

Classic Eggnog

Active | 25 min. Total | 45 min., plus chilling Serves | 18

The eggs in both the base and the meringue are cooked, so food safety shouldn’t be a concern.

  • 6 large egg yolks, plus 2 large whites
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • Large pinch of coarse salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 ounces bourbon, such as Michter’s or Maker’s Mark
  • 2 ounces dark rum, such as Appleton Estate
  • 1 ounce cognac
  • Unsweetened freshly whipped cream, for serving
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, for serving

Prepare eggs
In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk egg yolks and ½ cup sugar until pale yellow and thick, about 2 minutes. In a medium saucepan, bring milk and salt to a bare simmer. Whisking constantly, slowly pour hot milk mixture into yolk mixture.
Cook base
Pour yolk mixture back into saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until mixture is just thick enough to coat back of spoon and hold a line drawn by your finger, as shown, 3 to 5 minutes.
Strain, spike, and chill
Pour mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl; discard solids. Let cool, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Add cream, bourbon, rum, and cognac; cover and refrigerate overnight.
Fold in meringue
Whisk remaining ¼ cup sugar and egg whites in a heatproof mixer bowl set over (not in) a pan of simmering water. Whisk until sugar is dissolved and mixture is warm (it should feel smooth between your fingers), 2 to 3 minutes. (For fully cooked eggs, a thermometer inserted into meringue should register 160°.) Remove from heat. With a mixer on high speed, beat until stiff peaks form, 5 minutes. Fold into eggnog.
Garnish and serve
Pour into glasses (or a punch bowl); top with a dollop of whipped cream and sprinkle with nutmeg.