While eggnog, like champagne, may be best enjoyed in moderation, Jason Shurte, a bartender at Henry Public in Brooklyn Heights, says the homemade version is tastier than the viscous store-bought stuff. It’s worth noting, of course, that there’s raw egg in the mix, so if you are making it at home, use caution and the freshest eggs possible.
Shurte said it’s entirely possible to make up a large batch of the drink. It just involves combining dark rum, brandy, sugar, heavy cream and eggs in a shaker, and then shaking “the hell out of it” to get the egg frothy, he explained. Henry Public usually uses one egg per drink, since it’s mixed to order.
“I might, like, make a larger batch of it,” said Shurte. “You know, like put it in a bigger quart container and shake it up or something, or even a larger container and shake it up, just for efficiency sake.” After the initial “dry shake” without ice, he shakes it again with ice and serves it topped with a dash of allspice liqueur and a sprinkle of freshly grated nutmeg (recipe below).
While the drink might separate a little while sitting out, Shurte said it wasn’t anything a little stirring wouldn’t fix. “It’s not a hard thing to make at all,” he said. “Anybody can do it, and it is very tasty.”
Tom Macy at the Clover Club swears by incorporating baking spices into his cocktails. A fan of using ingredients typically found in the kitchen when mixing drinks, he created a menu of pie-inspired cocktails. “None of which, I should mention, is too sweet,” he quickly insisted before listing off pecan, pumpkin, and apple pie flavored cocktails.
But for New Year’s Eve, he suggests combining gin, lemon juice, cranberry preserves and cinnamon syrup in a cocktail named “The Port of Call.” He said cinnamon syrup is one ingredient that’s super easy to make and readily impresses people. Just let cinnamon soak in simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar). The longer it soaks, the stronger the flavor.
“It works so well in cocktails, it’s amazing,” said Macy. “And people haven’t had it, so it’s really something that’s extremely delicious and accessible, but also feels totally new to a lot of people because they’ve never had cinnamon in a cocktail before.”
He admitted that he’s such a fan of cinnamon syrup, he has to be careful that not every cocktail at the Clover Club includes it. Macy often replaces sugar in traditionally summer cocktails with the cinnamon syrup to give the drinks a winter spin.
“If you just switch out the sugar in the French 75 for cinnamon syrup: Do gin, lemon, cinnamon syrup, top it with champagne, you know, people will be wowed and it’s extremely easy to do,” he advised.
Jan Warren, the head bartender at Dutch Kills in Long Island City, Queens, is not always one for moderation (see the first episode of his video series Animals Eating Animals for an example), but he does suggest caution when using spices in cocktails. “I’d say the number one general rule if you’re using spices is don’t over do it,” said Warren.
When it comes to seasonal cocktails, Warren is a fan of using maple syrup and apple brandy or apple jack. He recommended the New Brunswick (scotch, lemon juice, maple syrup, and orange bitters, recipe below) as a cocktail that can be made in large batches for parties.
Krissy Harris, an owner of The Wren, thinks ahead and preserves fruit when it’s in season and uses it now. “It’s hard to get fruit in wintertime, so what I like to do instead of using fresh fruit is I’ll use, like, a compote,” she said. For instance, in her Black and Blue cocktail, she uses gin, unsweetened black mulberry juice, unsweetened blueberry juice, and a blackberry and blueberry compote.
Harris also came across walnut bitters and walnut liqueur at a specialty store and was inspired to concoct a drink called The Great Jones. She based the recipe on the smells and tastes associated with memories of her great-grandfather’s walnut trees in California.
“It’s basically how I would imagine walking through, like, a walnut orchard in late fall, early winter,” she said. “You kind of want a little smoke and imagine there’s like a fire burning, you know, and they’re burning the old wood or something. So it’s this kind of smoky, cool walnut-y, and you get a little sweetness from the maple syrup.”
Whatever cocktail you choose for ringing in the new year, Clover Club’s Macy said to make sure it’s one that won't make it hard for everyone to stay up past midnight.
“You don’t want to serve Manhattans at your party because everyone will be gone by 9:30,” he said with a chuckle. “I’ve been there, I’ve made that mistake before.”
Below, try recipes for homemade eggnog and the New Brunswick. Cheers to a happy new year!
by Henry Public
1 ounce dark rum (Shurte uses Cruzan or Mount Gay)
1 ounce brandy
3 spoonfuls of white sugar
2 ounces heavy cream
1 whole egg
Put all the ingredients into a shaker and then “shake the hell out of it,” says Henry Public bartender Jason Shurte. “With an egg, you want to shake the hell out of it, basically, to get it really frothy. You want it to get as thick and frothy as possible."
You shake it first without ice, which is known as a “dry shake.”
Then add ice, and shake again to chill.
Strain into a glass with no ice. Then top with a splash of allspice liqueur and grated nutmeg. “And there you have it,” says Shurte.
by Jan Warren, Dutch Kills
2 ounces of scotch
½ ounce of lemon juice
½ ounce of maple syrup
Shake or stir with ice, strain, serve over ice.