Egg Nog is Kind of Gross, So Drink These 3 Holiday Cocktails Instead

Here's how to make creamy Christmas drinks that are absolutely delicious.
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Egg Nog Alternatives

I really wanted to write something about new and exciting about egg nog, the old holiday staple. When I see those sad cartons of pre-made egg nog making their annual appearance in the supermarket, I’ve got to be honest, I usually have to stifle a gag. But I figured I’d spin one of those lifestyle service journalism yarns where we “reconsider” and “reinvent” the egg nog into something cool and fresh.

And then my editor emailed and reminded me of an infamous comedy bit by Dave Attell, from his Skanks for the Memories album: “You know what egg nog really is? You're not gonna want to hear it, but I'll tell ya. It's elf cum.”

Umm. Yeah, I’m done here. I wrote my editor back and said I wouldn’t be doing anything on egg nog.

In the grand history of the American drinking, the combination of dairy and booze makes for a pretty dubious chapter — Mudslides, White Russians, and Grasshoppers being the best of the bunch. 

In fact, I would guess that the category of drinks mostly likely to be described as “gross” would have to be those that involve milk or cream or eggs or butter. But for some reason — and I cannot tell you why — people seem to want to drink booze and dairy during the holiday season. Who am I to stop them?

But allow me to offer some alternatives to egg nog. First, consider the Alexander – cream and crème de cacao mixed with brandy or any other spirit you want to make it with. Gin? Fruit brandy? Yes and yes. Hell, try it with añejo tequila or mezcal and it might work, too. Just don’t forget the nutmeg.

The other is the infamous Grasshopper cocktail — which is essentially an Alexander using crème de menthe. But in our version here, we replace the crème de menthe (which can often be gross) with Brancamenta, the minty cousin of the famously bracing Fernet Branca.

Finally, if you’re willing to do a little more advance work, why not try serving a Hot Buttered Rum. As dairy products go, isn’t butter is so much more inviting than milk mixed with raw eggs? And when butter is mixed with spices and rum?

Well, put it this way: No one’s going to call it elf cum.

The Alexander

The Alexander is a versatile drink that every home bartender should break out during the holidays. It can be made with brandy, or pretty much any other spirit — experiment. Some go-to Alexander options for me include: the good-value German brandy Asbach Uralt, pear brandies from St. George or Clear Creek, or the malty Bols genever.

The Alexander Cocktail
  • 2 ounces brandy or any spirit of your choice
  • 1 ounce light cream or half-and-half
  • 1 ounce crème de cacao
  • Freshly grated nutmeg

Fill a mixing glass two-thirds full with ice. Add the spirit, then the cream and crème de cacao. Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass or rocks glass. Grate a little of the nutmeg on the surface.

Cavalletta

The traditional, infamous Grasshopper calls for creme de menthe and creme de cacao — essentially an Alexander made with creme de menthe. This Italian version (cavalletta means grasshopper in Italian) calls for Brancamenta. At 80 proof, the Brancamenta brings way more flavor and backbone than crème de menthe.

A number of Fernet or Brancamenta versions of the grasshopper or Alexander exist online, but most call for a liqueur like Godiva or Tia Maria, which is too sweet, or heavy cream, which is too cloying. Instead, use a good-quality creme de cacao, such as Marie Brizard or Drillaud, and always go with light cream or half-and-half.

The Grasshopper Cocktail
  • 1 ounce Brancamenta
  • 1 ounce creme de cacao
  • 1 ounce light cream or half-and-half
  • Freshly grated nutmeg

Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice. Add the Brancamenta, creme de cacao and light cream. Shake well, then strain into an old-fashioned or rocks glass. Grate a little of the nutmeg on the surface.

Hot Buttered Rum

Nearly everyone has heard of this cold-weather classic, but few have tasted it. Perhaps it goes without saying, but this must served steaming hot, not lukewarm.

It is best to make the batter in advance so the spices have an opportunity to mingle. Be sure to remove the batter from the refrigerator several hours before serving to allow it to soften. The recipe for the batter makes enough for 10 to 12 servings; refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 month, or freeze for up to 2 months. For the rum, this works best if you use something with a little bit of age.

Hot Buttered Rum Cocktail

For the batter:

  • 1 pound light brown sugar
  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons allspice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For each drink:

  • 2 ounces rum
  • Boiling water, as needed

For the batter: Beat together the brown sugar, butter, spices and vanilla extract until well combined. Refrigerate in an airtight resealable container until ready to use.

For each drink: Combine 2 heaping tablespoons of the batter and the rum in a warmed coffee mug. Add boiling water to fill to the top, and mix well. Serve with a spoon.