That party drink you see being ladled out in old black and white American films as winter snow falls silently outside is more likely to be eggnog than punch. As David A Embury points out in his classic manual The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks (1948): ‘It is the traditional drink of the holiday season from Christmas Eve to New Year’s Eve.’ The nutritional qualities of this potent beverage rendered it acceptable for Middle America.
On this side of the Atlantic, the drink causes puzzlement and a degree of disdain today. ‘You mean advocaat?’ No, I bloody well do NOT mean advocaat. Dating from the Mad Men days when America still enjoyed a stiff drink, it is a considerably more potent proposition (one recipe from that era calls for a bottle of rye whiskey).
Its Fifties retro charm might work at parties in this country as long as your guests realise you’re being ironic, though it is possibly better reserved for a cosy New year’s Eve a deux. A noggin of nog went down very well with my tasting panel (Mrs Hirst).
‘A bit like Bailey’s,’ she said, utterly missing the irony. ‘You could easily end up very tiddled. Any chance of another?’ The quantities given below are sufficient for five drinks. Christopher Hirst
- Three eggs separated
- 70gm brown castor sugar
- 300ml milk
- 200ml double cream
- 160ml golden rum, bourbon or Scotch
Beat egg yolks with 50 mg sugar until they turn pale. Stir in milk, cream and liquor. Beat egg whites with remaining sugar until stiff. Gently fold whites into yolks. Chill for a day. Ladle into glass beakers, grate fresh nutmeg over and serve to the accompaniment of Sinatra, Crosby, Fitzgerald, Bennett…