It’s said that some folks drink non-spiked eggnog. As in no booze. Weird, right? Even with the fun version of the holiday staple, the spirit you choose makes a difference. Chip Steel, head of the beverage program at Houston’s gourmet Le Jardinier restaurant, lends a recipe that elevates eggnog’s appeal with a bit of mixologist technique and more than a bit of—ho! ho! ho!—bourbon. His variation, born of a family recipe, even boasts a fancy-ish name, Garagiste Nog.
“It’s a reference to the ‘garagiste’ winemakers of Bordeaux who brought a new, modern energy to the region by following their own rules and creating their own blends. In this case, Garagiste Nog doesn’t use traditional brandy, instead substituting bourbon and a little dark rum,” Steel says. “Although bourbon has its own kind of sweetness, it also brings dry, smoky, even bitter notes to the cocktail. While that extra bite is smoothed out by the richness of cream, it does add contrasting complexity.”
The result is a holiday tradition for his family. “Our special recipe has gained a cult following. We always make double or triple batches because no matter how much is made, it always disappears too quickly,” he says. “It does require a little upfront effort, as the mixture needs time to settle after the whipping and mixing. But all the cream, milk, and eggs create a very luscious cocktail. It really gets you in the mood for the season.”