My father is 83 and still makes eggnog almost every Thanksgiving. As befits a Southerner, he substitutes bourbon for the rye whiskey in the original recipe, with a bit of rum to round out the flavors. His other great contribution to the original recipe is the aging. He mixes the eggs, sugar and whiskey together, pours it in a jar, and loosely covers the top before setting it in the back of a closet to age and mellow for a month — and does it ever mellow.
During the aging process, a number of chemical processes occur, producing new flavor compounds (as does the exposure to air). By the time he adds the cream, you can hardly taste the alcohol in the mixture.
My father says he often increases the bourbon to 1 cup and the rum to 1/2 cup in the base mixture, producing a more potent (and less thick) end result. He warns that if you do this, the time spent adding the booze to the eggs will be proportionately longer.
Makes about 4 cups, 8 servings.
6 large eggs
3/4 cup bourbon
1/3 cup rum (dark is best)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
With an electric mixer, beat eggs until well mixed.
Combine bourbon and rum, and add very gradually to the egg mixture; this should take about 15 minutes. If the booze is added too quickly, it will curdle the eggs by causing the proteins to denature, so take it slow.
Beat in the sugar — about 5 minutes — and store in a glass or ceramic jar or jug in a cool, dark place, but not a refrigerator. Of course you can drink the same day, but our family recipe calls for a month of mellowing. The container should be covered loosely, but you want some air to get in.
1 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup sugar
Whip the cream until almost stiff. Whip in vanilla and sugar.
Stir the base mixture and thoroughly mix into cream.
This nog will be very thick and you may wish to thin it somewhat with milk.
Serve in punch cups with a sprinkling of finely grated nutmeg.