Eggnog season is finally here! Let the twinkling and revelry commence. And with this recipe in your back pocket, you'll have good reason to celebrate. Perfected by Jack McGarry, one of the cocktail geniuses behind the bookThe Dead Rabbit Drinks Manual (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), it is an utterly irresistible version of the rich, eggy holiday classic. It's also very easy to make, as McGarry demonstrated on a recent visit to Food Network Kitchen. Here's how he does it.
McGarry's flag is firmly planted in the chilled-eggnog camp. ("It's easy to go from warm eggnog to an alcoholic omelet," he jokes.) An ounce and a half of cold half-and-half bolsters the creaminess that comes from the eggs. Instead of vanilla extract, he opts for the deep, mellow flavor you get from steeping a vanilla bean pod in simple syrup (aka sugar dissolved in an equal amount of water). "It will keep in the refrigerator for two to three weeks," he says. Any leftovers make a great addition to coffee, iced tea and lemonade.
Ho, ho, ho and a bottle of...
Dead Rabbit cocktails are famous for their sophisticated (some would say obsessive) combination of liquors. For his eggnog, McGarry use three varieties of rum. The home mixologist can stick with just one: "Get a nice dark one, like Gosling's or Meyer's," says McGarry. "They give a tremendous, heavy molasses component." He opts for Hidalgo Pedro Ximenez Sherry "because it has lots of raisin notes. But even a regular sweet sherry would still make a nice eggnog."
Shake It Up
To get a cocktail very cold without watering it down, McGarry fills his shaker to the top with ice. "If you use just three or four cubes, they will melt and dilute the drink," he explains. The cover goes on, and then he shakes vigorously and long. How long? "Until your hand sticks to the bottom of the shaker," he instructs. (It gets that icy.) "You want the egg white to get mixed up and to really beat the yolk." When properly done, the eggnog should pour out in a rich, frothy stream.
The Finishing Touch
You can keep your cinnamon and chocolate. For McGarry, no good eggnog is complete without a fragrant shower of nutmeg, which he grinds fresh for each drink. "Pre-ground doesn't have the same feeling," he says. "The texture is chalky."
Ready to Try Your Hand?
Find more classic cocktail recipes adapted for the home bartender in The Dead Rabbit Drinks Manual.