‘Tis The Season: Eggnog and Coquito

‘Tis The Season: Eggnog and Coquito

Nog Drinks

One day left..

Nothing says holiday cheer better than a cup of eggnog. It was a staple of my childhood, sans alcohol of course. My brother and I knew the holiday season was underway as soon as our milkman (yes, we had a milkman) delivered the first green carton of sweet, sweet holiday bliss. We drank it by the pint, blessedly unaware of the calories we were consuming. I even used it as a milk substitute in my morning tea.

My first taste of ‘real’ eggnog, i.e. eggnog made from scratch and spiked generously with spirit, came when I spent a Christmas with my best friend and her family in rural Vermont. It was tradition in their home for my friend’s stepdad, Joe, to whip up a batch. I had heard about its glory for years and was curious enough to try it, despite my germophobic fear of raw eggs. One sip and my worries flew by the wayside. Fresh eggnog is completely worth it and generally safe as long as you take certain precautions.

This year D and I decided that we would make a large batch of eggnog to be enjoyed throughout the season. Eggnog contains a lot of sugar and enough alcohol to preserve the potion for a month at least. That being said, make sure you buy the freshest eggs you can find and wash them well.

Xmas Nog Drinks

Egg Handling

Salmonella lives on the shell and can be transferred into the egg when you crack it. I clean mine in a bowl of cold water containing a couple of drops (no more) of bleach. Dip the egg in the solution and then rinse it with cold water. Do not soak the eggs in the bleach solution as eggshells are porous. Dry your eggs well before using. Additionally, make sure all your mixing bowls and containers are pristine. I always sterilize my storage vessels in boiling water for 10 minutes.

Big Batch Eggnog

Xmas Nog Drinks

Eggnog

This recipe yields about 4 liters. Feel free to mix up the spices or spirits. We like a mix of rum, brandy, and bourbon but you could use one spirit exclusively. Joe always adds Southern Comfort to his eggnog, which adds a wonderful hint of vanilla.

  • 10 extra large eggs, washed, dried and separated
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 cup bourbon (we used Maker’s Mark)
  • 2/3 cup spiced rum (we used Sailor Jerry’s)
  • 1/3 cup amber rum (we used Appleton)
  • 2/3 cup brandy or cognac (we used Courvoisier VS)
  • 1 liter whole milk
  • 1 cup 35% cream

 

  1. Separate the eggs.

    Xmas Nog Drinks

    Separating eggs

  2. Using a hand or stand mixer break up the yolks by beating them on medium speed for one minute.
  3. Add the sugar and spices and continue to beat for a few minutes until the mixture is fluffy and pale yellow in color.
  4. Over low speed gradually add the spirits to the mix.

    Xmas Nog Drinks

    Secret ingredient

  5. Maintaining low speed, add the milk and cream.
  6. Pour the mixture into a very large bowl and set aside.
  7. Using a clean mixing bowl and clean beaters beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.
  8. Fold the egg whites into the yolk mixture.
  9. Refrigerate for a couple of hours to chill and then serve. Or else bottle the mixture in sterilized containers.
  • To serve shake the eggnog over ice and dump into a rocks glass. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.

Coquito

Xmas Nog Drinks

Coquito

While researching eggnog I came across a recipe for a traditional Puerto Rican beverage called coquito. The recipe immediately piqued my interest and, though we had 4 liters of eggnog on hand, D and I both agreed that it was too intriguing to pass up.

This recipe is not for the calorie conscious, in fact it contains ingredients I consider taboo at all but this most festive time of the year. It is, however, delicious. With both the coquito and eggnog at our disposal we find ourselves reaching for the coquito first. As an added benefit the recipe is egg-free and comes together in less than a minute. We used a jar of Honomu Hawaiian coconut butter in lieu of the Coco Lopez so I suspect you could use any good quality coconut syrup and still achieve great results.

This recipe is very rich. We used full-fat evaporated and coconut milk but next time I might substitute 2% evaporated milk and light coconut milk. Be sure to let the mixture rest before serving, the rum mellows out, the coconut shines through, and the vanilla bean and cinnamon sticks infuse the beverage as it sits.

I believe coquito will become a new holiday tradition in our household!!

  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 can sweetened cream of coconut (Coco Lopez, Goya, or other sweet coconut product)
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 3 cups rum (we used Appleton)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 vanilla bean, split
  1. Add evaporated milk, condensed milk, coconut milk and cream of coconut to a large blender such as a Vitamix and whirl to combine.
    Xmas Nog Drinks

    Xmas Nog Drinks

    (If you are using a smaller blender you will need to do this in batches. Alternately, blend with a hand mixer in a large bowl.)

  2. Scape the seeds from the vanilla pod and add them to the mix as well as the rum, vanilla extract, and ground cinnamon. Blend until combined. Pour the mixture into a 2-liter container. Add the cinnamon sticks and the spent vanilla pod and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.
  3. Once chilled, pour into a small decorative glass and top with a dust of toasted cinnamon.

Sources:

http://www.jeffreymorgenthaler.com/2009/egg-nog/

http://imbibemagazine.com/Homemade-Holiday-Eggnog

http://www.alwaysorderdessert.com/2011/12/coquito-puerto-rican-coconut-eggnog.html

 

Mai Tais

Mai Tais

Gecko Tiki Ku Ali'i Edition

Gecko Tiki Ku Ali’i Edition

Long before The Vintage Cocktail Project and our interest in classic cocktails, D and I were infatuated with tiki drinks and culture. The first cocktail book we ever purchased was Beachbum Berry Remixed and we have an ever-increasing collection of tiki mugs.

Tiki Mug Collection

Tiki Mug Collection

Recently our focus on prohibition-era drinks has relegated tropical cocktails to the back-burner, but thanks to a recent heat wave D and I spent the weekend revisiting the Polynesian pop culture prevalent in 1950s America.

We decided to start with the most iconic drink of the era, the Mai Tai, but which one? Multiple individuals have claimed authorship over the Mai Tai and dozens of recipes exist for the bevvy. The two most likely creators are Victor Jules Bergeron Jr. aka Trader Vic and Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt aka Don the Beachcomber. The question of authorship is highly contested and seems to divide the world of tiki enthusiasts into factions. Not wanting to take a side, D and I figured we’d better test both recipes.

Trader Vic’s Mai Tai calls for orgeat, a sweet and gently floral almond syrup, whilst Don the Beachcomber’s Mai Tai Swizzle calls for falernum, a spicy syrup made with lime, almonds, ginger, and clove. Both syrups are available commercially but most aficionados agree that these products are of mediocre quality, lacking nuance and invariably excessively sweet. With this in mind we took a day to make our own orgeat and falernum with fantastic results.

We invited several guests over to sample the fruits of our labor. We started with Trader Vic’s Mai Tai, which was met with rave reviews.

Trader Vic's Mai Tai

Trader Vic’s Mai Tai

Our friend A declared it “the best cocktail I ever had!” Unlike the Mai Tais found in places like Hawaii this drink is shaken, not built, and is thus uniform in color. When I handed D his bevvy he looked disappointed and requested a 151 floater. In the spirit of fidelity to the recipe he was denied. But once he tasted the drink his faith was restored. The bevy is a delight, sweet but tart with orange undertones and an almost creamy texture from the orgeat.

Next up was Don the Beachcomber’s Mai Tai Swizzle. Despite the names and the fact that both drinks contain rum and lime, the two concoctions are not at all similar. The Mai Tai Swizzle is much spicier, thanks to the delectable falernum, and packs a much stronger punch. D was immediately won over, preferring the assertive flavors of this version.

Don the Beachcomber’s Mai Tai Swizzle

Don the Beachcomber’s Mai Tai Swizzle

Our guests were divided, with half the votes going to Trader Vic and half to Don the Beachcomber. The origins of the Mai Tai remain up there with such mysteries as who killed Kennedy, but by golly, with drinks this good we are simply happy that they exist!

I had one more recipe to try before the night was done, a contemporary spin on the Mai Tai by Brooklyn bartender Jeremy Oertel, using Campari as the predominant spirit. I had been excitedly anticipating this Bitter Mai Tai for several weeks and felt somewhat deflated by the results. The Campari dominates and refuses to marry with the other flavors.

Bitter Mai Tai

Bitter Mai Tai

D was also underwhelmed but suggested that it might have been better when not served directly opposite two stunning versions of the Mai Tai. Only one of our guests was enamored with this drink, preferring it because it is not at all sweet. She also loved the color, equating it to raspberry, whereas all I could conjure was Pepto Bismol. I feel I will need to give this drink a second chance on a fresh palate as it was not at all the masterpiece I had hoped it would be.

Trader Vic’s Mai Tai:

  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • .5 ounce orange Curacao (we used Pierre Ferrand)
  • .25 ounce orgeat
  • .25 ounce simple syrup
  • 1 ounce dark Jamaican Rum (we used Myers’s Plantation Punch)
  • 1 ounce amber Martinique Rum (we had to substitute Angostura 1919)
Angostura 1919

Angostura 1919

Shake over crushed ice. Pour contents, including ice, into a double old-fashioned glass. Garnish with mint.

Don the Beachcomber’s Mai Tai Swizzle:

  • 1 ounce fresh grapefruit juice
  • .75 ounce fresh lime juice
  • .5 ounce Cointreau
  • .25 ounce falernum
  • 1.5 ounce Myers’ Plantation Rum
  • 1 ounce Cuban rum (we used Havana Club 7 year)
  • 6 drops Pernod (we used an eyedropper and measure 1ml)
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
Myers’s Plantation Punch

Myers’s Plantation Punch

Shake over crushed ice. Pour contents, including ice, into a double old-fashioned glass. Garnish with mint.

Bitter Mai Tai:

  • 1.5 ounces Campari
  • .75 ounce Jamaican rum (we used Myers’s Plantation Punch)
  • .5 orange Curacao (we used Pierre Ferrand)
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • .75 ounce orgeat
Oragne Curacao

Orange Curacao

Shake over ice. Strain into a double old-fashioned glass. Fill with crushed ice.

Tiki nights we can't remember with friends we can't forget

Tiki nights we can’t remember with friends we can’t forget

Sources:

Beachbum Berry Remixed: A Gallery of Tiki Drinks

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trader_Vic’s

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mai_Tai

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_the_Beachcomber

http://www.imbibemagazine.com/Bitter-Mai-Tai-Recipe

The Alamagoozlum

The Alamagoozlum

Alamagoozlum Coctail

Even after making this cocktail I still have to look up the spelling. And the pronunciation? That’s anyone’s guess. What I can say with certainty is that despite the seemingly endless list of ingredients this cocktail is worth making.

There was a lot of anticipation surrounding this drink, this being our first of the project, and having spent the better part of two weeks tracking down ingredients. Our provincial liquor stores seem to feel that curacao should be blue. This is perplexing to me – what about fresh tropical oranges suggests a synthetic blue hue? Oragne CuracaoCall me a snob but I have yet to figure out why anyone would imbibe something that looks like, and probably tastes similar to, antifreeze. Luckily our friends at Legacy Liquor were able to help us out, providing us with the very last bottle “for quite some time” of Pierre Ferrard Ancienne Methode Dry Curacao. And wow, what a find! Made from curacao orange peels and a blend of spices the depth of flavor of this liqueur is starling, reminding me at once of Cointreau and Drambuie.

There was some debate over yellow versus green chartreuse. D wanted to start with the yellow, but I was a holdout for the green. Admittedly I had ulterior motives, green chartreuse is a major component of one of my favorite cocktails, The Last Word, and once we had a bottle in the house I’d be just a measure and a shake away from bliss. Green ChartreuseWe settled on the green.

Ironically, after all our careful prep and procurement, our first batch of Almagoozlums contained no chartreuse at all. After photographing all the bottles D read out the ingredients as I measured, then we took turns shaking. We shook until our hands froze to the metal shaker then strained it into two crystal glasses we had gleefully obtained at an estate sale earlier in the week. The libation was a beautiful dark color with a frothy rim and a silky mouthfeel. It looked exactly like the picture in the book and we were very pleased with the taste. Alamagoozlum CoctailWe both agreed it was worth the effort and started to pat ourselves on the back for a job well done. It was only when I commented that the cocktail didn’t seem as boozy as I had imagined that we turned back to the recipe and realized that we had forgotten the chartreuse.

Always ones to correct the errors of our ways we started anew. Bazinga! Our first concoction had been pleasant, with notes of orange and some spice from the bitters, but the true Alamagoozlum is a knockout. It is at once citrusy, spicy, and woody. It’s definitely a sweeter style cocktail but with a boozy bite and sharpness from the spice. It has a luscious, creamy body, thanks to the egg white and the gomme syrup.

I should note here that we made our own gomme syrup. I would have cheated and made a rich simple syrup without the Gomme Arabic, but D was insistent that we do things properly. Gomme Syrup-1He tracked down the Acacia at a restaurant supply shop and put me in charge of the mixture. While we both doubted the recipe I used at times, the resultant syrup was thick and rich and well worth the effort.

 

 

 

 

 

The Alamagoozlum (serves 2-3)

  • ½ egg white
  • 2 ounces genever gin (we used Boomsma)
  • 2 ounces water
  • 1.5 ounces Jamaican rum (we used Appleton)
  • 1.5 ounce Chartreuse (we used green)
  • 1.5 ounces gomme syrup
  • .5 ounce orange curacao (Pierre Ferrand is great)
  • .5 ounce Angostura Bitters

Add the egg white to a large clean dry cocktail shaker. Shake long and hard. Add the remaining ingredients and ice. Shake again until frost coats the outside of the shaker. Strain into chilled cocktail glasses. 

The Alamagoozlum ingredients

The Alamagoozlum ingredients