I like traditions.

I like the sense of history, continuity and connection that seem inherent in most traditions. That may be partially why I went to UVA, a school chock full of secret societies, tradition, history and community. I know, I talk about UVA a lot, but that’s just how it’s going to be. Wahoowah.

But I want to talk about personal traditions. I find that most of my traditions center around the holidays and even more so around food. Every Thanksgiving, for as long as I can remember, we’ve had pumpkin roll. Every Christmas morning my brother demands his traditional Christmas breakfast called Easy Cheesy. Every November I host a “Friendsgiving” and every December I host my annual “Birthmas” Party.


Birthmas? What’s that? Well, I’m a December baby and so I’ve suffered the same fate that befalls all December babies at some point — the intermingling of Christmas and Birthday. I know, my birthday is easy to confuse with the birth of a baby boy a long time ago in Bethlehem, but that hardly matters to a little kid. However, I really love Christmas have learned to run with the overlap between my birthday and Christmas. So now I host an annual Birthday/Christmas party. Ergo, Birthmas.

As will happen, traditions tend to beget other traditions associated with them and, along with spiral cut ham and games involving solo cups, homemade eggnog has become one of the hallmarks of Birthmas. Now, I’ll drink certain brands of commercial eggnog from the grocery store, but there’s just nothing like the homemade stuff. For those of you who are iffy on raw eggs, the internet is full of ways to pasteurize  eggs without cooking them. I let the eggs sit in a 135ºF water bath for 75 minutes, which should get the job done.


But aside from all that raw egg silliness, the really important and sometimes controversial decision when it comes to eggnog is what kind of booze to use. I’m ignoring my mother’s voice in my head saying, “well, what if someone doesn’t want to drink?” This is eggnog. There will be alcohol. In fact, that’s how the yolk of the eggs are traditionally cooked. I, myself, am a bourbon girl when it comes to eggnog (along with many other aspects of my life). In particular, I’m a big fan of Maker’s Mark. Because the alcohol is so prominent in eggnog, the quality matter greatly. Therefore, whether you are a bourbon, rum or whisky kind of person, make sure you use decent booze. In eggnog and in life.

As a last note, I highly recommend making the eggnog as least 24 hours in advance. It tastes much better after having had sufficient time for the flavors to meld. The alcohol mingles with the rest of the ingredients and you’ll end up with a much more balanced and harmonious nog for yuletide indulgences.

Boozy Bourbon Eggnog
Recipe By:
  • 12 Eggs
  • 1½ C Sugar
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2 Vanilla Beans
  • ¼ tsp Cinnamon
  • 4 tsp freshly grated Nutmeg, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1½ to 2 C Bourbon
  • ¾ to 1 C Brandy
  • 4 C Milk
  • 2 C Cream
  1. Separate the egg whites from the yolks. Set the whites aside for later and add the yolks to a large bowl. Add the sugar and salt to the yolks and whisk by hand or mix with an electric mixer until the yolks are thick and pale yellow and the sugar has completely dissolved.
  2. Slice the vanilla beans lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Stir the seeds into the eggs, along with the cinnamon and nutmeg.
  3. Whisk in the bourbon and brandy. Cover the bowl and let it sit in the refrigerator for about 3 hours.
  4. After the three hours, stir the milk into the boozy egg yolks.
  5. Whip the cream to stiff peaks and fold the cream into the eggnog.
  6. Whip the egg whites to stiff peaks and fold them into the eggnog as well. Return the eggnog to the refrigerator and chill until it's time to serve it up for some holiday cheer.
I use 2 cups of bourbon and 1 cup of brandy, which makes for an assertively boozy eggnog. If you're looking for something a little less aggressive, try using 1½ cups of bourbon and ¾ cups of brandy.