Tips on what to buy for the holiday beverage classic
Eggnog, it seems, is a polarizing subject. I’ve never met someone with neutral feelings on it. Either they whisper, “I love eggnog…” with a manic gleam in their eye, or they exclaim, “Eggnog is disgusting!” with Grinch-worthy hatred.
Even among those who love it, there’s debate about its various qualities. Should it be thick or light? Spiced or plain? Mixed with rum or bourbon? In the interest of finding some answers, I did a survey of a few brands of eggnog available at almost any local grocery store.
A word of warning before we get started: While there’s a strong temptation to make your own eggnog, using raw eggs in food can be dangerous. If you decide to go homemade, make sure to use a recipe that has you heat the mix before consumption to get rid of any bacteria. Storing a mixture with at least 20 percent alcohol in a refrigerator for at least a month can also ensure that the bactericide properties of the alcohol have a chance to work. Some even say that aged eggnog tastes better!
I tried four brands that showcased a nice spectrum of eggnog experiences, and then mixed each of them with both rum and bourbon. The ideal ratio of alcohol to eggnog is supposedly 1:5, but feel free to adjust according to your flavor and intoxication preferences. I found that in general bourbon or whiskey works better than rum to cut the thickness of the dairy and blend in with the spice flavors.
Here’s a ranking of my favorite-to-least favorite, along with a few notes.
1. Southern Comfort Original:
This was the thickest one I tried, and it had the strongest spice flavor. It was my personal favorite, but was definitely the richest and the heaviest of the four. It was good without alcohol and with the bourbon but didn’t work well with the rum.
The classic choice to honor local loyalties. It was less thick than the Southern Comfort but still had a creamy texture and flavor. Very little spice flavor, so the bourbon added a nice kick. The rum didn’t add much.
3. International Delight Classic:
This was a much thinner eggnog because it uses a skim-milk base instead of cream. It’s a good way to cut out calories, but if the traditionally thick eggnog texture is important to you, be wary. Not much in the way of flavor, but it played well with both the bourbon and the rum.
4. Food Club:
I got nothing from this eggnog that I couldn’t have gotten from drinking a glass of milk with sugar mixed in. It had the texture of the ID Classic without the excuse of being healthier and no eggnog flavor to speak of. You can mix it with bourbon or rum or whatever you like, but you can’t make me drink it again.
Obviously these aren’t your only options, but if you’re going to try them all, you’ll have to start drinking now if you want to be done by Christmas!