Drambuie Spiked Masala Nog
I have absolutely no idea how my family started drinking eggnog. Always one to try anything new, I suspect my dad picked up a carton in the grocery and brought it home for us to try. Whatever the origins, having a carton of eggnog in the fridge during the holidays was very much a holiday tradition in my home growing up. I suspect one of the reasons we enjoyed it was the combination of the warm flavors of cinnamon and nutmeg, infused into the thick, creamy liquid – flavors that, for my parents, were familiar to the Indian palette, and for me, were a reminder that the holidays were starting.
The origins of eggnog and the variety of ways it is made around the world are quite interesting. Culinary historians believe that eggnog originated in medieval England as a drink called posset, which was made from hot milk that was curdled with wine or ale and flavored with spices. Often used as a cold and flu remedy, it evolved over time and eventually became the drink of choice for the aristocracy for toasts to prosperity and good health.
In time eggs were added to the mix and those who could afford, milk, eggs, spices and expensive liquor often mixed their eggnog with brandy, Madeira wine, or sherry which made something similar to the spiked eggnog we find at modern-day holiday parties. When eggnog arrived in North America with the British, the colonists replaced heavily taxed brandy and wine with rum, which was far more affordable because of trade agreements with the Caribbean. When the supply of rum ran low during the Revolutionary War, Americans turned to domestic whiskey and bourbon and in places where even that was too expensive, local moonshine was added for the kick.
Though popular in America and England, various versions of eggnog can be found around the world. In Puerto Rico eggnog is called coquito and is made with rum and fresh coconut juice or coconut milk. Mexican eggnog, known as rompope is flavored with vanilla and was first made in convents in Puebla, Mexico. In Peru, it’s called biblia con pisco and is made with pisco, a Peruvaian pomace brandy. In Germany, eggnog can be made with either beer – biersuppe – or wine – eierpunsch – and is flavored with cloves, tea, lemon or lime juice and cinnamon.
As I worked on my own recipe I thought about how eggnog is actually a masala based drink. The word masala refers to a mixture of ground spices. When making a spicy Indian dish one may use garam masala – garam meaning hot (spicy) – literally a hot mixture of spices. Different combinations of whole spices are used for various dishes and drinks from masala chai to masala chole. Like these different Indian dishes, eggnog is also made with a mixture of spices – most commonly cinnamon and nutmeg, but often with cloves, anise, vanilla and other spices
Given my love of all things spices, I wanted to create a cocktail recipe that really highlighted the masala aspect of the eggnog. For this reason, I chose Drambuie over traditional bourbon or rum as the base for this cocktail. Drambuie is a scotch that is slightly sweetened with heather honey and flavored with herbs and spices. Though nobody is entirely sure of which spices (it’s a highly-guarded secret), people have speculated over the years that the scotch is infused with flavors of saffron, anise, nutmeg, and cinnamon. The flavors are subtle, but when combined with a good quality eggnog and some star anise, the cocktail is rich, warm and flavorful without being overpowering.
- 3 oz. eggnog (I recommend a good quality eggnog from a local creamery, which is generally available at Whole Foods or other higher end supermarkets, though any eggnog, soynog or almondnog can also be used)
- 1 ½ oz Drambuie
- 2 oz half and half or whole milk
- 1-2 dashes of Angostura bitters
- 1/8 in piece + 1 full star of anise
- freshly grated nutmeg or ground cinnamon
Combine the eggnog, Drambuie, half and half, bitters and the small piece of anise in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake for 30 seconds to fully combine the ingredients and allow the anise to infuse the liquid. Pour into a coupe and dust with nutmeg or ground cinnamon along one side of the glass and add a star of anise on the other side. Serve immediately.
Yields 1 cocktail