In a lonely corner of the self-serve bar at every holiday party ever thrown sits a sad punch bowl filled with lugubrious — and untouched — goop. Kyle, the intern from accounting, probably picked up a few cartons from the supermarket refrigerator section on his way in, and I honestly can’t blame all these party-goers for their apprehension. While I’m sure Kyle generously spiked the nog with whatever jug-handle bourbon he could afford, even the promise of boozy goodness can’t trump the ick-factor a congealing bowl of room-temperature liquid custard elicits.
I’ve got to admit that I once wrinkled my nose at the mere mention of the dreaded nog. Like so much generationally held-over holiday cuisine, eggnog has fallen victim to the preservative-filled, prepackaged fate that robs so many seasonal delicacies of their souls, their joy, their specialness (I’m looking at you Stove Top Stuffing). I don’t blame you for steering clear of the creamy sludge Kyle thoughtfully contributed to the party. That stuff is straight up motor oil with sugar and nutmeg.
Here’s news for Kyle: cartoned eggnog is to actual eggnog as Jim Carrey’s Grinch is to Boris Karloff’s. If done right, eggnog should be light, airy, and angelic. It should look fluffy in the cup, dissolve on your palate, and should not sit heavy in your belly. The real secret to achieving transcendent nog is using the freshest ingredients — think fancy, organic, and local. Add to that some time and a little technique, and your party guests will be slurring their glad tidings and making inappropriate advances under the mistletoe before you know it.