Spirits of Christmas Past – A Drink of the Week Special Report


Christmas is coming whether we like it or not. I’ve got something cool in the pipeline for New Year’s, but below are several of my favorite drinks from past holiday posts to keep you literally fat and happy in the meantime.

Nog! Nog! Nog!

I rediscovered the joy of eggnog with my first Christmas post. I loved the stuff sans-booze as a kid but I found little joy in the rum or brandy nog I’d tried later at holiday parties. I understood making it from scratch would result in a fresher and more full-bodied drink, but I was intimidated by the recipes I saw online. They treated eggnog as a party punch and scared me off with talk of separating multiple yolks from multiple whites. But click here and you’ll see that the drink is simple to make for one or two people at a time. All you need is a shaker, liquor, an egg, a sweetener, the rich dairy product of your choice, and nutmeg or perhaps cinnamon. Having some paper towels on hand might also be good. Just make sure to dry shake to emulsify the egg and cream, and then shake again very vigorously with ice before straining it into a chilled glass.

Such is my love of the nog that I returned to it twice later with tasty variations:

  • My 2014 post for Jack Maple Egg Nogg borrowed a recipe that has since disappeared from the Laird’s Apple Brandy website and seems to exist only on my post. You’re welcome! For your base spirit, 100-proof Laird’s Straight Apple Brandy Bottled-in-Bond may still be the premium cocktailian choice, but less expensive, yet thoroughly authentic, Lairds Straight Applejack 86 should also work extremely well.
  • A few years later, I returned to the scene of the crime with Baltimore Eggnog. Though the drink is often associated with Edgar Allen Poe, then and now, I could find no documentation of an actual connection though Poe was fond of the brandy in the recipe and lived in Baltimore. The poor man – who did not die of alcoholism – had a rough enough life, so I do hope he got to enjoy Balto nog because it’s tremendous.

Agave Accented Christmas Confections

If nog isn’t your thing or you’d like something sweet but just a tad lighter and a little different, I have two more tequila-accented blasts from the past. Tequila has only become a staple since the late 20th century. It’s not often associated with Christmas north of the border but, really, why the hell not?

Dulce de Navidad. This is a tasty, lighter alternative to nog that is a spin on a classic milk punch (another decent Xmas option). It’s a recipe I adapted/stole featuring tequila, milk, Mexican chocolate bitters, and a nutmeg garnish. I don’t remember why I didn’t use cinnamon but that would be a very traditional choice that I’d think would also work. (Or, if you’re feeling lazy, you can just throw a shot of reposado or anejo into a glass of horchata and see what happens. I’ve never tried it but now that I mentioned it, I want to!)

And to All a Good Night. If you’re vegan, you get extra credit for sticking around, and here is your reward. And to All a Good Night is a nifty, animal-cruelty-free combination of bourbon, reposado tequila, and Cherry Herring, one of the most delicious liqueurs out there. It’s typically consumed after dinner and I can think of worse ways to close out the holiday.

Merry Christmas, everyone!


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