Of all the grand holiday traditions, it’s the potent richness of eggnog (or egg nog) that’s most guaranteed to keep seasonal revelers in high spirits. And it may be that no one understands this more than Gary Butch, co-owner of James Beard Award-winning restaurant Elizabeth on 37th in Savannah, Georgia. Every year, about a month before the holidays, Butch and his family gather with about 50 staff members and friends to throw a party and whip up a giant batch of homemade eggnog that they bottle and give as gifts throughout the season. The annual tradition has been happening for more than a decade, and the lucky people who receive a bottle of the treasured nog are the envy of anyone in the know. The powdered sugar in Butch’s nog adds to the creamy consistency, while the inclusion of fruit brandies yields even more depth of flavor. And to make holiday entertaining and gift-giving a little less hectic, Butch suggests making a batch ahead of time. “The longer you let it sit, the more time the sugar and the cream have to balance out the flavors of the alcohol,” he explains. “Plus, at around 15-to-20 proof, the nog will keep in the fridge for weeks.”
Carefully separate 12 eggs, placing the yolks in one large mixing bowl and the whites in another.
Mix the egg yolks with a hand mixer on medium speed to combine. Add 2 cups of powdered sugar, 1 tsp. ground cinnamon, 1 tsp. of ground nutmeg and 1/2 tsp. of ground allspice and continue to mix on medium speed until slightly frothy and most of the sugar has dissolved. Stir.
Combine 1 cup of bourbon, 2/3 cup of white rum, 1/3 cup of dark rum, 1/3 cup of apricot brandy and 1/3 cup of peach brandy in the large measuring glass and slowly pour into the sugar-egg yolk mixture while whisking continuously.
Continue whisking the mixture while adding 4 cups of whole milk and 1 cup of heavy cream.
With clean beaters, beat the egg whites in their reserved bowl until soft peaks form.
With a rubber spatula, fold the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture. Whisk to make sure all of the ingredients are fully incorporated. Pour the egg nog into a punch bowl and refrigerate until chilled or bottle the nog in clean bottles and store in the fridge for up to 2 months.
TIP: When working with raw eggs, be sure that they are fresh and free of cracks. Separating them is easy once you get the hang of it: Crack cold eggs firmly along the side of a bowl and gently pull apart the two shell halves, keeping the yolk in one half of the shell. Gently transfer the yolk back and forth from each shell half until all of the white has run into the bowl below.