I’ve never made eggnog before, not because I’m skittish about eating raw eggs—I’ll eat cookie dough without hesitation, and have added raw egg whites to pisco sours when I’m feeling ambitious—but because it seems like a lot of work. If I made it for a group I’d probably want a version that cooks the eggs (poisoning myself is one thing, but I’d really prefer not to poison my friends), which makes it even more finicky. I could keep coming up with excuses why, but the bottom line is that I’ve always wanted to try making eggnog but never have.

When I came across a blog post about aged eggnog recently, though, I was intrigued. According to Michael Ruhlman, the eggnog should be aged for at least 30 days but you can keep it (refrigerated) for up to three years, and the taste will continue developing over time. The secret, apparently, is an insanely high alcohol content, which kills any salmonella that may be lurking in the raw eggs. Science Friday tested this theory several years ago and found it to be sound. As Flora Lichtman put it, “It’s that perennial holiday question: Can I count on booze to kill the bugs in my homemade eggnog?” Their recipe was different from Ruhlman’s, but contains approximately the same ratio of egg yolks to sugar to milk/cream to alcohol (and it’s kind of fun to watch people use lab equipment to make eggnog and then spike it with salmonella).

I decided to try making it a little over a week ago, which of course means that my eggnog isn’t yet ready—but if I wait until it’s done to write about it, it’ll be too late for anyone reading it to make and age the eggnog before Christmas (most recipes I found recommend aging the eggnog for three weeks rather than 30 days, so there is still time to do this). Results to come later; in the meantime, here are a few photos of the process of making the eggnog.

Ruhlman mentions that he tried a version of the eggnog made with Oban single malt whiskey. Lucky him. I used a combination of Rebel Yell and Old Crow. The only change I made to the original recipe was using DonQ rum instead of Myers’s (the latter wasn’t available in smaller bottles and I didn’t want to buy a full-size bottle just for a half cup of rum).

Ruhlman’s recipe, which makes a full gallon of eggnog, is here (it’s based on this recipe from Chow, which is the same except that the Chow recipe has you freeze the egg whites and, once the eggnog is aged, whip them and fold them in, along with another cup and a half of cream).

  • Santina Croniser
  • Separating the eggs

  • Julia Thiel
  • You can freeze the leftover whites in an ice-cube tray.

  • Julia Thiel
  • It’s probably a good idea to use a funnel to pour the eggnog . . .

  • Julia Thiel
  • . . . and mix the sugar and egg yolks in a little better than I did.

  • Julia Thiel
  • Finished eggnog, pre-aging (we lost some to spillage)

I tasted the eggnog fresh, and it was creamy and sweet, with a distinctly unpleasant alcoholic burn. What aging it is supposed to do, aside from killing bacteria, is allow the flavors to meld and the alcohol to mellow out. We’ll see.

Julia Thiel writes about booze on Wednesdays.